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Sunday, October 16, 2016

MS 226 Rushell White is the Worst Principal in New York City and a Liability For the NYC Department of Education

ALERT: On Friday October 14, 2016, at about 9:00AM, MS 226 AP of Special Education James Randall asked a teacher in his office, Room 213,  if she felt unusually warm. He walked to the office window to open it, and fell to the floor, unconscious. The teacher called 911 and  the main office.

AT NO TIME did MS 226 Principal Rushell White call a "CODE BLUE" for AP Randall, who is currently in the hospital. See AED/CPR Program

October 18, 2016: 45-year old James Randall remains at Jamaica Hospital, unresponsive.

Rushell White's actions in this matter are reprehensible and will be reported to the proper authorities.

Our prayers and get well wishes go to Mr. Randall and his family.

See update:

Code Blue And Rushell White's Almost Fatal Mistake

Betsy Combier

Rushell White is also a liability for the Principals' Union CSA, which inexplicably appointed her to their Executive Board in March-April 2015, while being sued and investigated. You will see below that CSA reps never assisted AP David Possner (pictured below) in getting his rights honored by MS 226 Principal Rushell White.

MS 226 AP David Possner
Why oh why, Ernest?

The Principals'/Supervisors'/APs' Union, CSA, Protects Its' Own - If You Play The Game Right

re-posted from

New York City MS 226 Principal Rushell White is the Worst Principal in The City by Betsy Combier 

Rushell White does not support her staff, she targets people for no reason, changes grades of students to make her school look good to the public, accepts money without being held accountable for where it is being spent, and ignores the safety rules to bully her staff into doing what she says no matter what the consequences for the students and employees. For example, Ms. White ordered her AP to do an observation of a teacher, and during this observation, with a full class of students in the classroom, the fire alarm went off. As the AP was afraid of Ms. White and what White would do if the observation was not finished, the AP would not allow anyone, the teacher or the students, to leave the room, saying it was simply a drill. The teacher frantically sent emails out begging someone to come and help her, all in vain. In fact, it was a real fire alarm and there was a real fire.

Rushell White does not support her staff, she targets people for no reason, changes grades of students to make her school look good to the public, accepts money without being held accountable for where it is being spent, and ignores the safety rules to bully her staff into doing what she says no matter what the consequences for the students and employees. For example, Ms. White ordered her AP to do an observation of a teacher, and during this observation, with a full class of students in the classroom, the fire alarm went off. As the AP was afraid of Ms. White and what White would do if the observation was not finished, the AP would not allow anyone, the teacher or the students, to leave the room, saying it was simply a drill. The teacher frantically sent emails out begging someone to come and help her, all in vain. In fact, it was a real fire alarm and there was a real fire.

We know how this process works/does not work. See the article I wrote about the Rubber Room process and Gotcha Squad, based upon a case I helped teacher David Suker appeal and win in the NY State Supreme Court:

The New York City Rubber Room Anti-Teacher Charging Process Shows How Corrupt the Carmen Farina-Bill De Blasio Department of Education Really Is. by Betsy Combier

However Principal White's harassment of AP David Possner is particularly obscene. But, I was lucky to be hired by David to work with stellar Attorney Roger Adler, and Roger won David's Article 78 lawsuit in which he argued for the overturning of his unsatisfactory rating in 2014-2015.

Judge Freed agreed, and her decision is right on the money.

David's AFFIDAVIT (Federal Court Complaint)

When David recommended that I assist a teacher in his school at her 3020-a arbitration hearing, I agreed, and we used David Possner's information about Rushell White, her statements to her staff and students, to win the case.

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Key Words: Making the School Look Good Through Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment

NYC Rubber Room Reporter, 7/17/16, by Betsy Combier, Editor

Thanks to former and present educators at the school, some of whom must remain nameless for the time being, and all those former staff members at MS 226 - Zev Angelou, Paul March, Claudia Bethea, Francine Davis, and to the two teachers who hired me to be the paralegal for their 3020-a cases, thank you.

I was fortunate enough to have been hired as a paralegal by several teachers as well as the Assistant Principal, David Possner, in their search for justice after Rushell White targeted them without justification.

MS 226 AP David Possner (pictured at left)

I am fascinated by this story because I see deliberate and reckless harassment of the staff and employees at her school, MS 226 in Queens, NY; verbal abuse; unfair labor and employment practices; and just plain unethical behavior by New York City's worst principal, Rushell White. Teachers and Assistant Principals at the school currently or in the past are talking about Ms. White in terms of being a "pathological liar", that she "hates jews", is "vindictive", a "bully", and a person unaccountable to anyone for her actions and knows she can get away with it. In 2015 the Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) shocked NYC educators and policy makers - who were and are aware of her antics - by appointing Rushell White to their Executive Board. This was clearly a politically motivated appointment which screamed inappropriateness, especially since Rushell White has been named in three lawsuits: Jane Seidemann, David Possner, and Mary Harris. There are more to come.

Rushell White is a liability for the New York City Department of Education, and they should immediately suspend her and charge her with discrimination, fraud, and endangering the health, safety and welfare of the teaching staff and children at MS 226. The NYC DOE Office of Legal Affairs then would have a precedent setting case where staff members of MS 226 who have been wrongfully attacked by Rushell White would testify against her. I would like to watch that hearing.

The money

Students have reported seeing her coming out of a building early in the morning with Ruben Wills, a District 28 Council Member - who is married to someone else, his wife Marcia.

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Key Words: Checks From Ruben Wills

Money is flowing into MS226 (District 27) from New York City Councilman Ruben Wills. Where is this money coming from and where is it being used? Councilmember Wills was indicted for grand larceny and fraud in 2014, and has given Rushell more than $1 million for her school.

Why is JHS 226 Principal Rushell White Still in Her Position Despite Documented Wrong-Doing? (March 19, 2016)

I am completely shocked by the arrogance of immunity I have seen from Rushell White and her cloned, dedicated-to-her-dominance APs, minus one, David Possner. David has bravely stood up against her abuseand harassment of staff, and welcomed the media who can, and have published, the acts of abuse of students and discrimination which will, I guarantee, will be the undoing of Rushell White:

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Key Words: Making the School Look Good Through Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment

Queens principal greets visitors with checks from disgraced pol

DOE Investigating Claims of Abuse at JHS 226: Report

The harassment by Rushell White of staff and students, ignoring Student Safety and Welfare

Principal White wants to create the most hostile workplace she can, to teach her opponents a lesson: you could be next if you oppose me in any way.

Former chapter leader Zev Angelou was subpoenaed to testify at the 3020-a of teacher Clairesa Clay (who hired me to be the paralegal at her 3020-a hearing), and he blew away everyone with his credible, strong, and truthful testimony about the "real" Rushell White. His description of her included words such as "bully" and "pathological liar"

MS 226 Principal Rushell White Calls Assistant Principal David Possner a "Bad Jew" (Nov. 8, 2015)

DOE Investigating Claims of Abuse at JHS 226: Report

Rushell White called MS 226 Assistant Principal David Possner "a bad jew". Is this not reason to remove her from the school? Or, to allow David a transfer from the school? No and No, according to CSA and the DOE.

EXCLUSIVE: School painting that shows Queens principal as Hindu goddess sparks outrage

EXCLUSIVE: Queens school staff want principal booted for bias toward older teacher, Hindu goddess portrait

Queens school staffers want principal removed over Hindu goddess mural

Ms. White, we know now, orders her subordinates to observe her teachers and rate them "Developing" or "Ineffective" (basically the same thing) no matter what the teacher does in the classroom. The ratings given for the observations - which are 95% of the 60% of the HEDI - determine your end of year APPR, and under Rushell White's control, all ratings are not truthful and not based on the performance or merits of the teaching. Rushell tells her APs to rate her staff according to whether or not she likes the person or not. And, if you dare to challenge Rushell White, you know that you will pay dearly for the insubordination.

Rushell White has, so far, been "getting away with" many actions against staff and students:

Queens school being investigated for alleged abuse against students

Queens school eyed for cheating on state exams

The fire incident on June 6, 2014.

Outside of a classroom on June 6, 2014, AP David Possner put out a real fire (see picture, above). The entire school was evacuated except for one classroom. The fire department showed up, the fire alarms had gone off, but AP Jennifer Shirley had been told by Rushell White to do an observation, so Ms. Shirley ignored the alarm, and refused to allow the teacher or the children to leave the classroom. Shirley told everyone that she was so afraid of what could happen to her later if Ms. White found out she had not finished the observation, that she forced all the students and the teacher to continue, as if there were no alarms going off. Shirley told everyone to sit back down during the fire drill. She finished the observation after she turned off her walkie-talkie. They all found out later that there had been a real fire. The teacher sent text messages to the staff asking why she was not allowed to leave.

 Notes on Jennifer Shirley sent to me from staff:

Forging Data: I have been informed that Ms. Shirley has not legitimately uploaded data all year and that she requested assistance from Mr. Randall and Mr. Possner in January to help her input false data. In the January faculty Monday meeting, Ms. Shirley handed us all data. This was the first diagnostic data that I could not retrieve on my own.

 Negligence: At the end of the 2013/2014 school year, Ms. Shirley stated to Ms. Mele (ELL teacher) that she was running behind on observations so she had to complete hers immediately. During the 8th period on June 6th, she performed the observation. During the period, there was a fire drill. Ms. Shirley told Ms. Mele and the students that it was not a scheduled fire drill and she needed to complete the observation, so everyone should must sit back down. Ms. Mele informed me that Ms. Shirley proceeded to turn off her radio and she kept them in the classroom for the remainder of the period. The fire alarm was not a drill, it was, in fact, the result of an actual fire on the 4th floor. Ms. Mele received a text message from Ms. Skoros asking her whereabouts during the evacuation. Ms. Mele replied that Ms. Shirley turned off her radio and ordered them to stay in the room. She put the students’ and teacher’s lives in danger. As a mandated reporter, I made a formal complaint to Ms. White, when I learned of this situation. Ms. White, who is also a mandated reporter, acknowledged my “formal complaint” and said, “ok, let’s see what happens.” Once again, the administration chose not to investigate. Ms. Mele has a copy of this observation.

Ms. Mele was a fine teacher at MS 226. She received frequent letters of commendation, was invited to celebratory dinners as an acknowledgment of great work, she worked long hours, raised ELL scores and was complimented by the administration, and she was told by Ms. White that her tenure was “not going to be a problem” (2013/2014 was her tenure year).

After the fire drill observation, Ms. Mele’s paperwork was ironically handed in late and she would have to defer her tenure. She sought union help and emailed Ms. White requesting documentation. Her emails were repeatedly ignored and Ms. White called her to the office and expressed that she was disappointed about the tone of the emails. As per Ms. Mele, Ms. White threatened to discontinue her and she eventually excessed her – all after the fire incident. Such unexplained situations, such as the excessing of a previously adored teacher have frightened the newer teachers. They used this and many examples as to why they don’t report anything. They are afraid for their jobs. One new teacher said, “If they can do that to such an amazing teacher, what would they do to me?”

 Abuse:On 2.11.15, ZW (a special ed. student) was in the cafeteria, which I believe was not his scheduled lunch period. I witnessed Ms. Shirley slam her hand into his chest sending him backwards and then pulling him in, she then proceeded to drag him through the exit doors and through the hallway by room 111 and up that adjoining corridor. Z was saying, “let me go, you can’t do this, let me go, I’m leaving, let me go”. Shirley stated, “I am taking what is mine.” Z replied, “let me go, I am walking with you, you can’t do this”. Shirley repeatedly yelled, “what are you going to do about it?!”

Ms. Shirley refused repeated requests to give subgroup growth data from the previous year to the MOSL Committee. She has been late or absent to every meeting that she arranged, without explanation, wasting our valuable time while we sat and waited for her. As the deadline approached and we were unable to complete the analysis of the data (due to her absences), she advised that we needed to stay late and finish, without pay. I repeatedly expressed concerns that we were making an uneducated decision regarding the subgroup without the previous year’s data.

On one of the above mentioned meeting days that Ms. Shirley missed (which she had scheduled), I asked her if she was able to get the data we needed and she defensively yelled at me, “What were you supposed to remember??” and then she walked out. Ms. Gina Posy and Ms. Melissa Priester overheard this interaction.

When Shirley asked us to stay late in order to work on the data analysis, I went to her office and privately requested that she keep to the meeting time that she planned: 2:30-3:30pm. The members of the committee were becoming frustrated about all of the wasted time, therefore, as their union rep I felt obligated to relay that to her. She agreed with me and left her office. Once again, as we sat and waited, Ms. Shirley arrived to the meeting at 3:10. At 3:40, I began to look at my watch, and she commented in front of the members of the committee, “What kind of a man watches the time like that?!”. I was very embarrassed and left the meeting. I informed Ms. White of the verbal abuse who assured me that she spoke with her and that it will not happen again. I was shocked by the unprofessional behavior of my supervisor and I was surprised that she was not formally investigated and substantiated.

Lateness: Ms. Shirley is frequently late and has evidently not been docked for her time (theft of service?). There are a number of dates and times that can be verified by the school cameras.

Ms. Cohen (Assistant Principal hired by Principal White):

1 On a number of occasions, students and teachers have informed me that Ms. Cohen has been threatening students with EDPs (hospitalizations) when students weren’t listening or were late to class, in addition to calling ACS if their parents didn’t come up to school. I reported this to Ms. White and I was told that students should get to class on time and she laughed, “Whatever it takes”. She did not investigate this verbal abuse against the students.

2 In November 2014, I witnessed Ms. Cohen on the second floor hallway grab and pull Zabedee Williams, a special education student. She yelled, “stop stupid. You better listen to me or I’ll EDP you.” Zabedee told her, “I just want to get to class”. He eventually pulled himself loose. (This is probably on camera)

3 A few weeks after the above incident, I witnessed Ms. Cohen grab and pull this same student. When she saw me, she immediately released him. I have never witnessed violent or disrespectful behavior from this student. His teacher, Ms. Thorn, and his dean, Mr. Batista, confirmed this.

4 At the end of 2014, Mr. Leiberman, Ms. Brach, and Mrs. Reid informed me that Ms. Cohen was yelling at a group of students that were congregating by the gym. As she passed them she threatened, “it’s hospital day, its hospital day!!”

Ms. Julia Adams (Special Education Assistant Principal, head of security and discipline)

I have constantly heard Ms. Adams threaten (most recently during a consultation committee) that she will call the medics to take a student out if he misbehaves. Also she has said to the team (SLT) to send him to her and she will “rope him up. "Threats, such as these are used as discipline in our school, and in some cases carried out. One of my students, Anthony Suhkdeo, was believed to be smoking marijuana and the medics were called to take him to the hospital. This method has been used on other students, most recently Austin P.(Special Ed. student). Ms. Adams called EMS on Austin twice this year. The first time, I witnessed the event. Austin was pacing in the corridor, visibly upset, but not acting any differently than I have seen other students act when upset. He was yelling, “don’t touch me”, but was not being aggressive to anyone, nor was he vandalizing property. He posed no physical threat to himself or the security agents around him. He was just pacing. Suddenly, approximately 4 agents grabbed him and dragged him into an office. They called EMS, who came and walked him to the ambulance, where I was told he was released on his own. Ms. Adams called EMS on Austin again on 2.24.15. I was walking by the 313 office where I saw Austin calmly sitting down. Mr. Steele, Mr. Possner, EMS, and at least two police officers were there as well. I have sadly witnessed an abundance of abuse against a number of students by administrators hired by Ms. White. I was concerned to see they were hospitalizing Austin once again. Mr. Steele was once a vendor and is now the head of the SAVE room, but has no teaching credentials. This is clearly against the Chancellors Regulations which states you need a certified teacher in this capacity. After Austin was taken out of the school, I went back to the office to discuss the situation with Ms. Adams as she was having a discussion with two other students who she claimed had been influencing Austin. She told the students that they should be careful, as they know Austin has psychological issues. It was inappropriate that Ms. Adams was discussing another child’s private information. As Special Education teachers, we are taught never to give that kind of information out, especially not to share personal information with other students.

Ms. Adams used this method of discipline on ZW in October of 2015. I was told by Ms. Bethea that Ms. Adams did not like that Z refused to listen to her and so she called EMS to come get him. Ms. Bethea informed me that the Level 3 agent ( I do not know her name, the head security agent), told her that Ms. Adams informed EMS that she had an out of control student who was throwing chairs and desks. The agent said that Ms. Adams was falsely reporting this information. Z was reportedly never in a classroom and was not throwing chairs and desks. EMS came and refused to take him, which angered Ms. Adams. She argued with the EMS agent, declaring that she knows an out of control child when she sees one. As I stated earlier, I asked Z’s Dean, teacher and safety agents if they ever saw him out of control, and they all said that they have not. I have also never seen Z out of control.

Mr. Possner informed me that Ms. Adams called Z "retarded." He told me that he said, “you probably shouldn’t be calling students retarded” to which she then replied, “if they act retarded, I call them retarded." This is a special ed. student. I sincerely doubt, that DASA promotes this method of dealing with a child with Special needs.

During the second week of school, I was in 313, where I witnessed Ms. Adams call two students into the office. She started yelling at them and when they tried to leave the office she smacked one boy in the side of his head and face as he ran out. The second boy (TW) tried to get by quickly, but she smacked him, too. He fell and she punched him in the forearm and chest approx. 5 times. Ms. Rosado (security) was present. She was hitting him quite hard. I was shocked, and I am ashamed that I did not intervene quicker.

Ms. Brach reported to me that when the students gathered in the auditorium for the trip to Club Getaway, she saw Ms. Adams grab TR by the back of the hood and pull him out of his seat. He was just sitting and did not pose a physical threat.

Ms. Adams, on 12.09.14 was managing the 4th period cafeteria. As I walked through, I witnessed an interaction between her and a student, TatW , a student with special needs, who seemed to be quite upset. As Adams yelled at her via the microphone, telling her to sit down, the girl quietly muttered, “fuck you”. Ms. Adams repeated it back, “fuck you!”. The girl then replied, “your mother.” Ms. Adams answered, into the microphone, “no, fuck your mother.”

I was recently told by Ms.Bethea (parent coordinator) that students have been complaining to her about the abuse by Ms. Adams. Mss. Bethea told me that she reported these complaints to Ms. White who replied giggling, “you don’t really believe that?” Ms. Bethea then replied, "I am reporting what they told me, it’s not for me to believe or not to believe." The following students are some of the ones who Ms. Bethea informed me about (they have been kicked, hit with keys, or thrown into chairs to be seated): TW, BM, ZB, and A.

Ms. Adams illegally sends students home on suspension where they receive no instruction.

A few weeks ago, as I was in the computer lab doorway, I saw Ms. Adams walking towards the exit with a group of students, including DD. As she walked with them, she yelled, “it's ambulance day, it's ambulance day!" I later asked D why she was saying that. He informed me that if a student acts up they will send you to the hospital.

On 2.5.15, I saw a visibly angry TM by the cafeteria doorway. Ms. Adams pushed open the door and started screaming at him, “you got bad breath, you got bad breath!!!”. I overheard TM tell his classmate, “if she was only a man I would punch her in the face."

Principal Ms. Rushell White:

• Although repeatedly informed of verbal and physical abuse by her administrators, Ms. White, who is a mandated reporter, has consistently failed to report or investigate her handpicked administrators.

• Ms. White hides suspensions either by not doing them or by illegally suspending students. She sends them home without instruction and does not record the suspension into ORS.

• Mr. Possner informed me that during a fight outside the building last year, he was attacked and rendered unconscious. He told me there was no investigation and no report conducted into this assault. He also informed me that he never received one phone call by the Administration to see if he was ok.

• Ms. White is making teachers who chose early morning duty, come in early without compensation. This is not only breaking the contract, this is illegal. Early morning duty is routinely given preference to senior staff who wish to come in early and be compensated with early dismissal. I brought this up to Ms. White at our Consultation Committee and she replied, “we expect more". She wanted to know who was complaining, but I told her I could not tell her. I gave her the option to start paying them or begin giving time compensation. She said if someone comes to her with an emergency she will consider it, but that she wasn’t going to reschedule programs this late into the year.

• Last year, MS 226 was once again in the news during Ms. White’s tenure here. This particular time, it was because she hired Mr. Avron Pierre, a substitute, to monitor the SAVE room in the trailer outside. She had Assistant Principal Adams bring 40-60 students a day to the trailer (all at the same time), despite it only having 12 desks and chairs. This is illegal, as there was no ability to give instruction in that setting, and more frighteningly, it clearly endangered the children, putting them in harm's way. When I returned to the school after an educational sabbatical last year, Mr. Possner and Mr. Randall expressed their distress and concern as to the welfare and safety of those children. Mr. Pierre also told me that they relayed these same feelings previously to him. Sign in sheets are on record showing how many students were brought to the trailer. Mr. Pierre was not given a lunch period nor a prep, although he repeatedly requested them. He was given the answer “we are trying to work it out." When the news came to light on the television, Ms. White charged him with verbal abuse and claimed that he was unable to manage a classroom. As a substitute, he was no longer able to work and earn a living until the charges were cleared, which they eventually were. The victory by Mr. Pierre proves that an inordinate amount of students were placed in an extremely dangerous environment. This situation was only stopped after a student’s father had his son record the chaotic room. Ms. White had knowingly sacrificed the children’s safety and welfare, as she had been to the trailers and witnessed the dangerous conditions. I am curious about the outcome of the findings in the investigation conducted on this matter, assuming that there was one.

• At Mr. Pierre’s hearing, regarding the lack of lunch periods he was given, Mr. Pierre informed me that Ms. White provided a false letter written by Ms. Brach supporting the claim that she took the students to the gym every day, enabling him to have a lunch. He called me after his hearing extremely upset that Ms. Brach would lie for the administration. Ms. Brach informed me she did not write such things, and then gave me the letter she did write. I sent that to Mr. Pierre, he told me that the letter Ms. White had put forward was not the same as the actual letter that Ms. Brach had written.

• Mr. Merganthaler, our last Union Leader suffered under Ms. White, after he reported to the previous Superintendent that Ms. White had attempted to coerce the staff to cheat on the high stakes exams. In addition to the fact that in her first year as Principal, she ran up a large deficit in her budget she owed this money to the different union members in MS 226. Ms. White and Mr. Ruben Wills used their influence to make Mr. Merganthaler the scapegoat using Mr. Wills’ influence on NY1, stating that this was all the making of one “rogue union leader." In fact there were many people calling 311 and making complaints. The “Network” came in and paid the debts, I am wondering if our school had to repay those debts and took additional resources away from our school and our students? She then continued her attack on Mr. Merganthaler by rating him “unsatisfactory” and sending him for a psychological evaluation which was not upheld. She has done this to several staff members, which is another method of putting fear into staff members. This toxic atmosphere has caused our staff, teachers, paras, and administrators to hesitate or to refrain from reporting events that they otherwise knew that needed to be reported. Our children are put in harm’s way and placed in an unsafe environment today Because this was such an obvious act of vengeance and an infraction of the “whistle blower” law, Mr. Merganthaler ended up prevailing and has been placed in another school collecting over a hundred thousand dollars a year for the last three plus years, and all that time being on Ms. White’s budget. I am now becoming a victim of being a “whistleblower” after informing Ms. White of her administrations incorrigible behavior. I have recently been in discussions with several attorneys who have a variety of specialties that I expect to be in need of very shortly.

Hostile Working Environment

Our school is a depressing and scary place to work. Over 90% of the staff would want to transfer if given the chance. This includes almost 100% of the youngest, untenured teachers that Ms. White has personally hired. Over 51 staff members have left in the last five years, with many more failing in their attempts. Some that have been able to obtain employment in the collocated schools in this very building. This has been documented that in a survey that I gave the staff.

• On October 24th, I was on my way to report to a disciplinary hearing for myself with Ms. Jennifer Shirley, in which Mr. Tabeo Decruz was representing me. On my way up, there was a fight that started on the top of the stairwell where I was. I was punched in the back, ribs and head multiple times. One of the boys fled quickly but I saw the other very well. When I arrived to Ms. Shirley’s office I informed her of the incident, explaining that I was hurt. She said she would investigate. I then told her, please get me the names of the boys that did this so I could write a statement. She said she would. After the meeting, since the boy was from the second floor I also informed Ms. Cohen, in addition to Ms. Adams (head of safety and discipline). I also asked them to get me their names so I could write my statement. They both said they would take care of it, which ultimately, they never did. I was never asked for my statement, and never questioned. I found the boy about a month later and he informed me that not only was he not suspended but that a phone call was not even made to his house.

• Ms. Lefkowitz, a first year ICT teacher that has been left on and off without a coteacher, was threatened by Anthony Suhdeo, a student in her class. He threatened her by saying, "if she was ever in her neighborhood she would be shot and that he is going to slap all these white people."

There was never a suspension. Ms. Lefkowitz has informed me she cannot wait to find employment elsewhere.

• Hiding suspensions, not suspending (in order to keep the school appearing to have no disciplinary issues), putting kids in harm’s way when she placed over 40 kids a day into the one room trailer with 12 desks and chairs! Constant fear of reprisal if you are to speak out in defense of the children or yourself. Being forced to work longer hours than contractually obligated without pay or time compensation. Teachers are afraid to report the atrocious behavior by this admin due to the fear and vengeful tactics used against teachers in the past.

Our contract does not include anything on attire, however Ms. White has made it clear that she wants no jeans. Ms. White has also made references to past staff members that they should cover their tattoos. One member who considered this an artistic expression was very offended by this.

On one occasion, Gina Posy and I were standing by the auditorium doors by the building exit and main safety agent desk. Ms. White saw my jeans and stated, "you are in defiance of the administration" and made a motion with her hands that I would be written up.

On another occasion, Ms. White said, "look at you, you're supposed to be a model for the rest of the staff. You're dressed like garbage. Do I have to buy you clothes." This was very insulting and demeaning. I do not have the finances to buy a new wardrobe."

She once bought me a tie, telling me that she has never gone into a mall and purchased something for someone and not for herself. This was a first for her, she said, making me feel even worse. She had asked me to come to her office at the end of the day on a Friday. Unfortunately, by the end of the day I had forgotten. When I returned home I ran into her on the third floor. While Ms.Kellman was present Ms. White leaned from around the 349 complex doors and said, "I am feeling a certain way." At first I didn't understand. She then repeated, "you are making me feel a certain way" while staring at me. It was an extremely uncomfortable moment. The gift was a very nice pink tie.

Today I along with a few other colleagues had been wearing jeans. Mr. Randall had stated that Ms. White sent out a text. I am paraphrasing, but here is what it basically stated:

“To all AP's,

• Did anyone create a memo that it's dress down Friday? It's against our school policy to wear jeans. Please remind your floor staff.

• Sincerely,

Your Rating Officer”

Mr. Possner later told me that I was not appropriately dressed for work. I was wearing black dress shoes, dark jeans, and a maroon button down shirt. Mr. Randall disrupted a lesson too and asked Mrs. Whyte and Ms. Gutwirth to come to the hallway. He said to them that he was very sorry and that he had never done this before in his career; but that he was going to have to report them to the principal for wearing inappropriate attire for work. We are constantly hounded to use bell to bell instruction, so that nothing should interrupt a lesson and we were given an example of how losing 1 minute of a lesson during a school year could the impact a student's growth. We are not allowed to have students pack up even 30 seconds before the final bell, even though there is only 2 minutes for passing. This makes it almost impossible to pack up and get to class on time; in a controlled fashion. Mrs. Whyte and Ms. Gutwirth both thought Mr. Randall was joking, but he clarified that he indeed was serious. He also went to Porche Stevens' room, where he found her sitting behind her desk. He requested she stand to view her lower attire. He then asked if that denim she was wearing was jeans or a skirt? It was a skirt. Porche told me it was extremely embarrassing and uncomfortable.


*Toder: While Ms. Toder was Dean of MS 226, I was constantly told of how she was doing a great job by Ms. White. Unfortunately, there was an incident that involved another Dean, Ms. Juanita Grayson. Ms. Grayson was buying food for a few of the staff members and asked what they wanted. When Ms. Bonnie Toder stated that she couldn’t eat fried food, Ms. Grayson blew up at her and yelled “what do you want Kosher?!” Ms. Toder expressed to me her humiliation, and that the other dean, Mr. Edward Merganthaler who was there was also extremely upset. I went to Ms. White and told her what happened and said she would investigate. This was a verbal abuse case, which was never investigated, both Ms. Toder and Mr. Merganthaler were never questioned. Subsequently, Ms. Toder lost her job as the dean the following year.

*Assistant Principal, Mr. David Possner: Mr. Possner was upset one day, that he had received texts by Ms. Shirley and Ms. Adams making fun of him being a Jew and being in temple over the weekend. He was also upset by past comments by Ms. Shirley. For example, when she found out he was Jewish, she stated, “you don’t look like a jew." He received texts referring to him being in temple and answering the phone, “you’re a bad Jew" with others texting into a groups message with “LoL." He told me that he felt very uncomfortable and felt like he was the target of ridicule and that the Principal would do nothing about it. I personally have received repeated taunts by Ms. Adams, for example said to me, “you’re on the wrong side of G’d, you better pray if you want to be saved”. Ms. Adams said this to me once in the presence of Mr. Jose Batista, the school dean. She said this right before she started yelling at a child named KA, saying to him, we are calling ACS on your mother!" This was in reference to her not coming up for a meeting. Constant taunts by Adams, “You are on the wrong side of G’d, you better pray, pray for salvation” and another time “Christ will bless you (it was Dec. 23rd), Merry Christmas”. Obviously with me being Jewish, and on top of the past statements made by this admin towards Jews makes me feel very isolated and uncomfortable. This makes me feel like I work in a very hostile environment. During the most recent SLT meetings, Ms. Adams threw a stack of papers into my face when I asked for a copy that I needed to look over. I was completely embarrassed and struggled to put up a front by laughing it off. So many staff members, paras, teachers, assistant principals, think this administration is like nothing they have ever seen and out of control. But, they are afraid to report anything even stand up for themselves. Under this administration, people are so afraid of the ramifications of reporting incidents that everyone has become derelict in their duties in their very important role as a “mandated reporter." For example, most recently in early Feb. a child had a knife that was over 4” long and threw it. A student thankfully blocked it with his book bag. I have been told there was no documentation into OORS or suspension, which can obviously be verified.

Racial discrimination, hiring practices.

• Ms. White arrived to MS 226 with four Assistant Principals, (Ms. Murphy, Mrs. O’dwyer, Mr. Randall, and Mr. Possner. The second year of Ms. White’s tenure, Ms. Murphy retired. Ms. White replaced her with Ms. Jennifer Shirley (African American female, Jamaican), the next AP MS. O’dwyer had received an “unsatisfactory rating." She was very distressed with how the school was being run and how she was being treated. With an “unsatisfactory rating”, she found a position in another school in far Rockaway and has been receiving Satisfactory ratings ever since. Ms. White replaced her with Ms. Julia Adams (African American female, Jamaican), with Ms. Adams had no prior experience, in addition she told me later that she had to vacate the position due to the fact that her certification and paperwork was not completed. Ms. Adams remained in the school under a newly created un-posted position as a “Special Ed. Coach." At least that was what I was told her title was. She was then replaced by Jordan Barnett as the next Assistant Principal. Ms. Barnett (African American female, Jamaican) not only had no prior experience as an AP, she had not one days experience as a teacher. After being upset with how she was being treated and the fact that she did a summer school job for Ms. White and had to grieve the fact that Ms. White would not pay her, she has also left and is now doing well in another school. Ms. Barnett was then replaced by Ms. Cohen (African American female, Jamaican). Ms. Adams has since resumed her career as an AP in our school now that she has her certifications completed. They held her C30 this year. We have more Assistant Principals in this school than any other school in the district that has only 1000 students. Mr. Randall and Mr. Possner have told many people in the building how unhappy they are. That the others get preferential treatment and that they feel they are being targeted by Ms. White so that she can keep her other three Assistant Principals she has hired. To possibly substantiate that claim, Dr. Thomas a long term sub hired by Ms. White and Ms. Claudia Bethea have informed me that Ms. White told them at different times that she will be going after Mr. Possner. Mr. Possner was a possible candidate for the principal position that Ms. White had filled. They both stated to me that they would be willing to testify to that, and write statements to that effect.

• Since Ms. Toder was no longer the Dean, it seems Ms. White needed a new one, and although we have a very diverse group of teachers, who are more than well qualified for the Dean position, Ms. White felt the need to quietly post the position during the summer; thereby excluding the staff from this opportunity. Instead, she elected to go outside our building and hire Ms. Thomas, (African American Female).

• We had a guidance counselor, Ms. Fawn Greenberg, was also unhappy with how she was being treated. She was excessed and later replaced by Ms. _______, (African American female).

• Ms. White has brought in a Science Coach, (un-posted), Ms. _______, (African American female)

• She has since hired last year and this year, an additional para and secretary. Both (African American females)

• The Social Studies Dept. has 7 teachers, 5 African Americans that have been rated anywhere from Effective to Highly Effective. There are two Caucasian teachers, one being myself that have been rated ineffective by Ms. Jennifer Shirley. 5 of the teachers have DoE laptops for their instructional use. All have smart boards, computers, and printers in their classrooms. In addition, all have either a cart of laptops or IPADS for their students. The two Caucasian teachers have no computers/printers for their rooms, no smart boards for their rooms (even though there was a new delivery this year), no DoE laptops for their use, and no IPADS or A cart of LAPTOPS for their students use. In addition, the 5 African American teachers whom I love and respect and are friends of mine, have also been assigned a language arts specialty coach, Ms. Carol Turoff for the last two years. I have just been assigned Ms. Turoff after complaining to Ms. Shirley about the unconscionable disparity in resources she has given out. Mr. March who has two years of “ineffective” ratings has been given nothing and no guidance from Ms. Turoff. He is on the cusp of losing his job, this being his second year of negative ratings, and Ms. Shirley doesn’t see fit to give him the supplies needed to do his job. Some of the teachers in the dept. also have less seniority than Mr. March and I.

Three years ago, Ms. White told us she received three hundred thousand dollars from Mr. Ruben Wills for a new library. The librarian, who was Caucasian, was very excited. This changed after the library was completed, because soon after Ms. White closed the library and placed Mr. Von Hoppe into Ms. Grayson’s class in order to free her up to become a Dean. Mr. Von Hoppe did not have the certification for this class, a class that desperately needed a veteran experienced certified teacher since there were many low functioning children with behavior issues. He was extremely upset and could not control the class. He was now teaching a full schedule. The next year he found a position elsewhere as a librarian, so Ms. White hired MS. Smalls, an African American woman, who only teaches one class a day inside the library. I believe it would be hard to look at the numbers and say there has not been a deliberate effort to choose African Americans, mostly women to fill key positions since Ms. White has taken over.

MS 226 AP Jennifer Shirley-Brown, Principal Rushell White, Paulette

That's how much fear exists at MS226....enough to harm the children and staff.

Then there is a chapter leader, Zev Angelou, who reported Rushell White for causing sixth grade teachers to cheat on the exam.
That was in the newspaper, and Ms. White was very upset about that. So she started giving Mr. Angelou unsatisfactory ratings and writing him up, and it came to a head with the Union and their making a deal where he would be moved to another relocation, because he had three years left before he could retire. The deal was that he could work the rest of his time at the DOE in another school, but he would remain on Ms. White's payroll. He was being harassed by Ms.White too badly for him to stay at MS 226.

In 2013-2014 Rushell White was putting 40-60 students in the SAVE room on a daily basis. Zev testified that as only a substitute teacher was in the room, no one wanted to go in there, it just was not safe. Zev testified about the discipline policy that does not exist:

And she said
"we've had no fights. And I said, Ms. White, I was punched repeatedly in a hallway. How could you say there were no fights? Me personally that you never reported. That was reported to Ms. White, Ms. Cohen, Ms. Shirley, and Ms. Adams. They never reported it.
That was stated at a meeting when I was with my District rep., when I told her I was just punched five times by a student.
Therefore, that student, I found out later on, wasn't in detention. No one ever called home. We had incidents where I had to report to Ms. White. A child just threw a four and a half inch knife at another student. Blocked it with his bag. And that child was never reprimanded. And not only that, the child that almost was killed, they never called his house. All these things are being squashed. All of them. Fights, repeated fights. Violence. Violence against me. Verbal abuse. None of these things are being reported. How can a teacher conduct a classroom confidently and securely if they're feeling like they're not in a hostile environment when there's nothing being done? Again, I have, again, --
[00:01] environment leads to people having problems in the classroom."

In sum, Rushell White is now a liability for the business, the DOE public school system.

She has allowed her personal views to intercede in the work of the business, and the reports on her abusive actions toward her staff are out in the public eye. CSA and the DOE have to wait until all the outrage about the mural subsides, so that they dont have to be embarrassed by their mistake of recently putting Rushell White on the CSA Executive Board. The DOE hates when any event or person makes them look bad. She must go.

David Possner was subpoenaed by the DOE to come in to the 3020-a for my client, a teacher still teaching her regular full schedule, and he was nervous about speaking about Rushell White and her actions. So we gave him a subpoena to come in for us. Thus, he testified twice.
Ian Nikol, center

Then he talked. He also told me about how the DOE attorney in this case, Gotcha Squad member Ian Nikol, one of the most verbally insulting attorneys I have ever heard during my 13 years in 3020-a hearings, arranged for Ms. White and all the APs - including David Possner - to meet together to go over what they would do at the hearing. Ian described me as a blogger, and I should be totally ignored while in the hearing room. He told the group that I knew all about the DOE and everything they do, so watch out. Thanks Ian!!! I am honored by your compliment. 

Ian left the DOE or was fired during the 3020-a hearing, and we were given a new DOE attorney as his replacement. Good luck on your new assignment at the Department of Corrections. We will miss you (I honestly do not mean that).

Zev Angelou, the former chapter leader, came in to testify looking like Harrison Ford in the movie Indiana Jones. He was magnificent, testifying that Rushell White is "a pathological liar" who forces her APs to rate teachers as ineffective for no reason, or their jobs as APs are on the line. Rushell White makes up things as she goes, and is very vindictive. He transferred to another school. His new school is very lucky to have him, in my opinion.

I spoke at length with Francine Davis, a teacher for almost 49 years and who retired in time to save her pristine, stellar record. She told me that Rushell White was desperate to get into the "Principal's Society" at CSA, and told Fran, and several others that Rushell had paid for them to attend an event put on by the CSA for potential nominees. They went, and were stopped at the door where they were told that the $84.00 per person was not paid, and they had to leave. After this, Fran was accused of stealing state tests. AP Jennifer Shirley was in charge of the testing. Fran was found to be not guilty of the charge, but the damage was done. Fran retired.

Claudia Bethea, the parent coordinator, always took her job seriously. She was there for the kids. She paid for prom clothes, and she told the truth. She was fired by Rushell White who knew that Claudia and Fran were friends. Claudia told me that Ms. White said to her:
"You are worthless...Jamaican people [Rushell White is Jamaican] are better than black people...Jamaican people spell better and speak better than black people". [Claudia Bethea is 'black'].

I usually get between 4-9 witnesses to testify for the Respondent, but several people who initially spoke with me backed out from coming to the 3020-a, despite the fact that they were given subpoenas. So, we asked the Arbitrator, Michael Capone, to please stop Rushell White from retaliating against anyone at MS 226 who testified in our case against her.

Then, a few days after David gave his outstanding information about how Rushell treats her staff, he saw that a mural had been painted and placed onto the wall of Ms 226.

MS 226 Assistant Principal David Possner, who has just been awarded the "A For Accountability Award" by my non-profit, E-Accountability Foundation, sued in State Court asking to transfer out after Rushell White Called him a "bad" Jew. Transferring would have been the solution to everyone's problem, hers because she dislikes people who do not do whatever hurtful thing she orders, and his, because he knew that he was doing an excellent job for the school but nothing mattered, as Rushell White could only see her hatred for him.

If a plane suddenly crashed through the roof of the school Rushell White would blame it on David, that's what she does.

As I wrote in a prior post, Rushell White, a member of the CSA Executive Board, has the support of City Council Member Ruben Wills, and believes she is untouchable by anyone who does not like her for any reason. Ruben Wills has his own demons.

Rampaging teens caught on camera AGAIN flooding Queens neighborhood after school

Local business owners say mobs of out of control teens reek havoc everyday after school.

To understand why the Principal's Union (CSA) and the NYC Department of Education (DOE) allow Rushell White and other principals to "get away" with abusive acts you first have to change the definition of what a "good" principal is.

We no longer can call a principal "good" who is warm and fuzzy, treats staff as colleagues, overlooks errors of judgment if no one is harmed, doesn't sweat the small stuff, and values a school environment which is friendly, where life is in balance with the universe. You love going to work in that place.

Those days are over, at least for now.

What the reality is now, is that every employee, no matter how excellent, is a cog in a wheel, a member of the assembly line to get the widgets finished in a timely fashion, any way possible. If an employee misses a day at work, that's not good, but misses a friday and/or monday? Intolerable. While the UFT Collective Bargaining Agreement permits 10 days for absences a year, most principals will find a way to put a letter into your file for taking those 10 days, even if you are in surgery in a hospital. Eleven days? That's "excessive", and 3020-a charges can be filed. The business, they say, has suffered. (A good defense is: "how?" "how much?" "what are the numbers?"-ed)

Harmed on the job? You dont need LODI (line of duty) relief, you need a replacement. You are damaged goods, and possibly a liability for the business, supposedly educating students. You must be terminated. This is why so many people are observed the first day back and given a "U" or "Ineffective". The business of education cannot wait for you or anyone to become well.

Bereavement? Two days. Five if you are good at arguing for them. Nevertheless, while you are grieving a loss of a loved one, a plot will be created to get rid of you. You are damaged goods and possibly a liability for the business.

A parent becomes upset because you said/did something horrible to their little angel? Nothing matters except that a parent has complained, and there is no one at any agency who will investigate anything you say. Any facts you have will have to wait for the arbitrator at the 3020-a to which you will be forced into going. The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) does not investigate students, only employees. (I investigate what the facts are, and present at 3020-a! Promise!) . Nonetheless, you should fill out the form to report the incident, but any assaults should also be immediately reported to the police. Do not ask for permission from the principal. Just do it and tell the principal after it is done.

The principals' job is to get rid of the riffraff - anyone on the staff who messes with the business machine driving the profits, or with graduation for students who never appeared in class. Fudging grades works.

School principals continue to do whatever helps the business, because they know that they are supported by the CSA and the DOE no matter what they do, as long as the business rolls along in a profitable way. For example: when a staff member becomes "old" - anyone over 40 years of age - a plot is created for getting these people removed, because senior teachers' salaries are high, and thus a burden on the school budget. Unfortunately due to the prohibition for senior teachers to transfer, the only way to get a teacher out of the building is to charge them with 3020-a charges. If the teacher charged receives any penalty (he/she is not totally exonerated), this person will become an ATR, and will not go back to the school at which he/she was charged.

This automatic "become an ATR" stuff began relatively recently, I asked Attorneys for the DOE doing 3020-a prosecution why this so-called "policy" was absolute. Because, they told me, "that's the way it is". Don't you hate that answer? what does that mean?

Back at MS 226, all is certainly not ok. Good people are gone, but Rushell White stays. How is this fiscally responsible, Chancellor Farina? Has public policy and the health, safety and welfare of children been ignored?

I certainly believe so.

Stay tuned.

Betsy Combier

President, ADVOCATZ and The E-Accountability Foundation

From the first time that I was invited into the rubber room at 25 Chapel Street in 2003 by David Pakter, I understood that the charging, rubber room placement, and 3020-a hearing process - which I shortened to the "rubber rooms" process - was a massive fraud on the public. The problem stems from the fact that there is no accountability in this process, therefore anyone can charge someone with anything and make him/her guilty without having any repercussions for the charging agent's life or career.

Email from Theresa Europe violating NYC DOE Chancellor's Regulations,
rules for 3020-a arbitration, and the rights of David Suker

David Suker
From the first time that I was invited into the rubber room at 25 Chapel Street in 2003 by David Pakter, I understood that the charging, rubber room placement, and 3020-a hearing process - which I shortened to the "rubber room" process - was a massive fraud on the public. The problem stems from the fact that there is no accountability in this process, therefore anyone can charge someone with anything and make him/her guilty without having any repercussions for the charging agent's life or career (I call these agents "The Gotcha Squad"). See here and here.

The Arbitration for tenured teachers, called "3020-a disciplinary hearings" are not what they seem to be either. See the emails sent from the DOE and UFT to the Arbitrators, to see the chumminess going on.

Speed is all that counts. Rights of the educator, charged with either incompetence or misconduct, are less important or not protected at all. UFT Attorney Carol Gerstl prohibited the 3-member arbitration panel in 2008, for the reason given, this would make the hearing process "faster".

In New York City, an administrator who reassigns a teacher after claiming he/she is guilty of either valid or false charges is given the same rewards: financial, because the person is taken off of the school budget; personal, because the person is no longer in the same building and the "problems" this person supposedly caused are stopped; professional, because there may be some concerns about the principal's actions which the charged teacher could reveal, and now is out of the way, gone from the premises, and far from parents and other staff at the school.

In sum, there are many rewards to putting a tenured teacher in a rubber room, and no consequences for making false charges against him/her. Truth be damned. Did you read Lord of the Flies and don't you see similarities?

When you are not held accountable for your acts, and you dislike someone, then using public funds to hurt that person causes you no sweat.

UNLESS the public or media care enough and post a story about the principal falsely accusing a tenured teacher of doing something wrong when nothing wrong was actually done. This is what happened in David Suker's case.

I have written in several articles posted on this website and on my blog, saying that I was lucky to have been involved in holding the New York City Department of Education accountable for the outrageous attack on tenured teacher David Suker. Since 2003 I have been involved in hundreds of cases where tenured teachers were not allowed, by the Department OR BY THEIR OWN REPRESENTATIVE from the UFT or NYSUT, to defend him or herself. This is a terrible system and the NY State legislature should have stepped in years ago, and made accountability part of each step along the way.

None exist.

I cant help but think about the hundreds of thousands of public dollars which have been thrown away on lawyers' fees (1) to the NYC DOE preparing the case against David; (2) to all the lawyers who worked with the Gotcha Squad attorneys Nancy Ryan, Eleanor Glanstein and Theresa Europe, just to name the main players; (3) to all the people who work at the New York City Law Department and participated in opposing David's Article 75 Appeal to the New York State Supreme Court, (4) to all the lawyers who worked on the Appeal by the City to the First Department Appellate Division; (5) for the salary of the second Arbitrator. David won more than $250,000 for his pain in going through this vortex of injustice.

David Suker has conquered New York City's bizarre Department of Education Rubber room process and is now laughing all the way to the bank. I am overjoyed at his outcome, but disgusted that we, the public have to pay for the rubber room process while children go without books, extra-curricular programs, music, and art, etc., etc.

There is a better way.

Betsy Combier

City pays exiled teachers to snooze as ‘rubber rooms’ return
By Susan Edelman NY POST, January 17, 2016

The city’s infamous rubber rooms have rebounded.

In one of the “reassignment centers,” 16 exiled educators sit in a city Department of Education building in Long Island City, Queens, including a dozen packed into one room — where they do virtually no work.

They listen to music, do crossword puzzles, chat — and as this exclusive Post photo reveals, doze on the taxpayer’s dime.

The rules forbid beach chairs and air mattresses, but not nap time. The teacher sprawled on the floor, pulled a wool hat over his eyes to shut out the fluorescent lights and slept.

Others prop up two chairs to recline or just lay their heads on the table. “It’s gone right back to the way it was in the old days, an old-fashioned rubber room,” one banished teacher said.

Despite the photographic evidence and teacher testimony to the contrary, the city denies the existence of the derided holding pens. “There are no more rubber rooms,” DOE officials told The Post last week, saying reassigned staffers are given “administrative duties.”

In 2010, the DOE and the teachers union trumpeted a major agreement to close the centers holding more than 700 idled educators accused of misconduct or incompetence.

Many teachers settled charges by paying fines and finally returned to classrooms, while those still expelled were scattered across the five boroughs. But the rubber room deal is routinely violated. “No one pays any attention to the agreement,” said Betsy Combier, a veteran paralegal who helps defend teachers.

The DOE refused to say how many removed teachers and other tenured staffers remain in limbo, but sources estimate 200 to 400 get paid while awaiting disciplinary hearings. Their salaries total $15 million to $20 million a year.

The Long Island City castoffs begin their day by reading newspapers, then turn on the radio. They get 45 minutes to leave for lunch. They chat and sometimes exercise to “relieve the stress.”

While the city promised to keep removed educators busy, the Queens exiles say they only occasionally oblige requests to do menial tasks like stuffing folders or making copies. Others refuse to do such work, calling it “demeaning.”

They mainly just kill time to get through a six-hour, 20-minute day.

“I’m so exhausted from being in this place doing nothing,” one said.

Several teachers on the payroll have been benched for up to five years due to a stunning bureaucratic breakdown. The 2010 deal required the independent arbitrators who conduct termination trials to issue a decision 30 days after a hearing, so that vindicated teachers could return to work and bad ones could be axed.

But decisions still come months — or even years — late. The DOE says it can’t enforce the rule.

“They’re just letting me sit here,” said a teacher removed from the classroom nearly five years ago on charges of physically abusing children, which he denies. His trial ended four years ago. He makes about $70,000 a year.

Social Studies teacher David Suker has sat in the rubber room since September 2015, even though a state Supreme Court judge overturned his termination. Suker, an Army vet who taught at-risk kids in The Bronx, was found guilty of failing to immediately report his arrest in the Occupy Wall Street protests but was finally fined just $7,000.

After The Post asked why the DOE had not put Suker back to work, officials on Friday assigned him to a school as a substitute.

Rubber-room bosses thought napping on the job was hilarious: teacher
By Susan Edelman, Priscilla DeGregory and Beckie Strum, NY POST, January 18, 2016

Rubber-room supervisors find it hilarious that teachers are dozing on the taxpayer dime, says social-studies teacher David Suker — and he should know, he’s the instructor shown sleeping “on the job” on the front page of Sunday’s Post.

“They would walk in and would laugh or joke about it,” Suker told The Post.

He sat at one of these so-called Department of Education “reassignment centers” from September until last Friday after a state Supreme Court judge overturned his termination for not immediately reporting to higher-ups his arrest in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“They clearly knew I was sleeping, and they never told me not to do it,” said Suker, 47, who provided The Post with a picture of himself napping, he said, in order to expose the do-nothing rooms, which the city insists no longer exist.

“People were sleeping every day,” said Suker, who said nap time is a daily routine for most of the city educators hauled up into rubber rooms, meant for teachers accused of incompetence or misconduct. The Department of Education said rubber rooms were discontinued over five years ago.

Most choose to snooze in their chairs or with their heads on the desks, he explained.

“There was also one person that would go to the bathroom and fall asleep on the toilet,” Suker said. “He needed his privacy.”

Suker, an Army vet who taught at-risk kids in The Bronx, says he was one of three who would practice their A-B-Z’s on the grubby carpet.

“I was in the infantry, and that was just how we dealt with the stresses of that lifestyle. You grab some sleep whenever you can get it,” said Suker, who said his preferred nap time was after lunch.

“It’s mentally grueling to be in a room and have nothing to do. You look for any escape you can get. Some of the only ones you can get are going to the bathroom or going to sleep,” said Suker, who likened the rubber room to being in prison.

“But at least in prison you only have one or two roommates,” he said.

He said more than a dozen others are crammed into a tiny room, two or three to a desk, being punished for minor infractions, such as showing up a minute past 8 a.m.

MS 226 Assistant Principal David Possner Wins His Article 78 Lawsuit in Supreme Court, Overturns His U-Rating Given In 2014-2015

David Possner has been under attack by MS 226 Principal Rushell White. Here are my previous articles about his horrible harassment and abuse:

David Possner

I was brought on board by David to assist Lawyer Roger Adler on vacating the U-rating given to him by MS 226 Principal Rushell White..

NY State Supreme Court Judge Kathryn Freed overturned David's U-rating for the 
2014-2015 school year, and thus stopped Rushell White's rush to get him terminated at a 3020-a.

David won because Judge Freed saw how Rushell White made up the misconduct because she despised him, and threw truth,  rules and procedures out the window, as people fueled by hate tend to do. But for Rushell White's malice, David would not have received the U-rating on his APPR 2014-2015.

Congratulations David!

Matter of Possner v New York City Dept. of Educ.

Annotate this Case
[*1] Matter of Possner v New York City Dept. of Educ. 2016 NY Slip Op 51401(U) Decided on September 1, 2016 Supreme Court, New York County Freed, J. Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431. This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on September 1, 2016
Supreme Court, New York County

Application of David Possner, Petitioner, For a Judgment Pursuant to CPLR Article 78

against New York City Department of Education, Respondent.


Kathryn E. Freed, J.

In this Article 78 proceeding, petitioner David Possner seeks a judgment annulling the unsatisfactory performance rating that he received for the 2014-2015 school year from his employer, the New York City Department of Education (DOE).[FN1] The DOE answers and opposes the petition.


Since 2006, petitioner has been working for the DOE as an Assistant Principal at Virgil Grissom Junior High School (JHS 226) in Queens, New York. According to the DOE, for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, JHS 226 did not demonstrate yearly progress in mathematics. As it was found to be in need of improvement, JHS 226 was identified as a "focus school" by the New York State Education Department.

During the 2014-2015 school year, petitioner was assigned to the math and science departments of the school. Petitioner's specific assignments included the following:
"The Visionaries Academy for Science and Technology, Math, Science, Math Intervention, 3rd Floor Supervision, Observations, Frequent Cycles of Observations, Graduation, Senior Activities, COSA, Town Hall Academy Assemblies, Yearbook, OSHA, Blood borne pathogens, Chemical Inventory, Staff Development, Book Inventory, Bulletin Boards, Immunization, Trips, Liaison, Busing/Transportation Coordinator, A-501 Promotion, Recycling Coordinator, Data Management, Compliance Deadlines, Coverages, Technology."

Petitioner's exhibit A at 1.
Assistant principals are evaluated based on four goals that they identify, in conjunction with principal Rushell White (White), at the beginning of the school year. White states that, in evaluating these assistant principals, she considers "whether there have been letters documenting issues including poor performance and/or insubordination." White aff, ¶ 4. At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, petitioner and White set four goals for petitioner to achieve by the end of the year.
In Goal A, improving instructional and school programs, in pertinent part, petitioner stated that his expectations are for the students to make an "overall performance increase on the New York State Mathematics Assessment by 3 to 5%, and to capitalize on the 3% gains we made in mathematics from the previous school year according to the data results from NYSED. We are at 16% for our level 3 and level 4s." Petitioner's exhibit A at 1. In Goal B, achieving effectiveness in administration functioning, 40% of the ineffective and developing science and math teachers would "move up 1 HEDI rating." Id.
Goal C, initiating and strengthening activities, included completing observational data and using the "feedback to provide appropriate professional development to teachers in need of development in Danielson's 8 competencies." Id. In Goal D, improving relationships with staff, students, parents and community, the objectives were that, "85% of our parents and guardians agree, or strongly agree that the school communicates how to prepare their children for being career and college ready, according to the school environment survey. By June 2015, I expect that number to be 88 to 90%." Id. at 2.
Petitioner states that he was also responsible for creating all of the PowerPoint presentations for the school video screens and posters for the school hallways.
On February 9, 2015, petitioner received a letter to file summarizing his mid-year evaluation. The letter advised petitioner that he had not been meeting his Goal A, as the "information supplied is inaccurate." DOE's exhibit 2 at 1. The letter continued that petitioner, for his next step, should "[a]nalyze the data to get true numbers[,] devise an action plan that you will implement to help attain your goal for A." Id. The letter continued that petitioner had not been meeting Goal B and instructed him to provide professional learning opportunities for the teachers.
The mid-year evaluation further informed petitioner that he had been meeting the standards for Goal C. For Goal D, the letter states that petitioner had not been meeting the standard. Goal D was reiterated as "increas[ing] parent response to Learning Environmental Survey questions that school communicated with children." Id. at 2. It further stated that the goal "is not being monitored." Id. Petitioner was told that he should "review and monitor [*2]attendance and PTA meetings to determine whether they are receiving communication from the school. Assistant principal will create a survey and survey parents." Id.
The letter concluded by stating the following:
"Please ensure that you monitor the progress of your goals. It is imperative that you implement next steps and modify action plans to meet and exceed your goals. Please note that not meeting standards in any goal may lead to an unsatisfactory rating at the end of the school year and or [sic] charges leading to the termination of your services."

On June 26, 2015, Petitioner received a U rating for his performance during the 2014-2015 school year. Prior to this year, petitioner states that he received eight satisfactory ratings. The U rating advises petitioner that he failed to provide evidence that he met "several" of his goals. Specifically, although petitioner had now met expectations for Goals B and C, White did not believe that Goals A and D were met. She stated that, for Goal A, "you provided the number of students who met or did not meet promotional criteria, which is different from your goal to increase the number of students earning level 3s and 4s." DOE's exhibit 1 at 2.
With respect to Goal D, White noted that there was a "huge decline" in parent attendance at PTA meetings, which "was one of your goals." White stated that petitioner did not provide any evidence that he developed an action plan to address this decline. White continued that petitioner had not met Goal D "which is dependent on Learning Environment Surveys . . . you did not implement my recommendation." Id.
In addition, the U rating stated that petitioner had missed deadlines and that he did not provide leadership or monitor the staff and students under his domain. White continued that she would be closely monitoring petitioner the following year to gauge his progress.
Several letters were attached to the U rating, including letters reporting missed deadlines. For instance, on December 9, 2014, petitioner received a notice that he still owed outstanding observation reports and other assessments. There was one "walk-through" conducted on January 21, 2015, where the teachers in petitioner's academy were assessed by White. The walk-through noted some issues with the teachers and White indicated that she would return to do another assessment in two weeks.

Petitioner appealed this U rating to the DOE's Office of Appeals and Review (OAR) and his appeal was heard before a designated hearing officer on October 1, 2015.

Petitioner's Testimony
Petitioner advised the hearing officer that he received his U rating on the last day of school and the hearing officer agreed that the rating was not given within the required time period.
Petitioner believed that the U rating was pretextual, and noted that "95% of those things that I do every day, they're never recognized. The 5% that I don't do are, and those things were put in the letter." Petitioner's exhibit B at 15. He further claimed that White would criticize him for litter on the floor or a torn bulletin board while he was moving 450 students from class to class, rather than assist him.
Petitioner refuted the contentions of unsatisfactory performance. With respect to Goal A, for example, he stated that, while citywide, math scores went up by only 1%, his students' test scores reflected a score increase of 2%. He acknowledged that, even though he did fall short in Goal A, he was above the citywide average. With respect to Goal D, petitioner testified that he maintained the school website, which listed the dates and times of PTA meetings and that he set up the phone messages notifying parents of events. Counsel further noted that improving parent attendance at the PTA meetings was not specified as one of the categories in Goal D.

Petitioner's counsel noted that White is required to provide a minimum of two follow-up conferences, including the initial goal setting conference, but there is no record that petitioner received two conferences. During the hearing it was noted that, during her walk-through, White observed four teachers in 30 minutes. And, although White wrote that she would return in two [*3]weeks, this did not occur. In addition, the end-of-the-year review should have included some of petitioner's strongest assets, of which none were noted.

White's Testimony:
During the hearing, White testified that she did not originally intend for the letters regarding missed deadlines to be a part of the file, as she wanted to give the assistant principals the opportunity to correct the behavior.
During the hearing, White testified that petitioner had met Goals B and C, but had not met Goals A and D. In reference to Goal D, White testified that petitioner's goal was to have 85% of the parents state that they were satisfied with the level of communication from the school. White responded that petitioner did not provide her with the information on how he would meet Goal D.
White conceded that, with respect to any requests for outstanding documents, petitioner did submit the documents to her. White explained that she still believes that this is considered a dereliction of duties, even though petitioner did comply and it was not a willful refusal to follow through on an assignment.
White concluded by stating that she stands by the U rating. "[Petitioner] contributed in no way to the progress of this school, and therefore, he should be rated unsatisfactorily, he was, and this rating should be sustained." Petitioner's exhibit B at 17.

Pursuant to a letter dated March 15, 2016, petitioner was notified by the Chancellor's designee that the appeal of his U rating was denied and "the said rating is sustained as a consequence of poor performance." DOE's exhibit 11.
Petitioner then commenced this article 78 proceeding.[FN2]
Petitioner argues that basing a U rating on Goal A, which was improving standardized math test scores, is arbitrary and capricious. First, the results of the scores were not known until six weeks after White gave the U rating, so it would be impossible for White to find out whether petitioner had or had not been meeting his goals for improving test scores. Second, according to petitioner, in December 2015, the State Board of Regents adopted a four-year moratorium barring the use of common core test results in teachers' performance ratings. Petitioner's exhibit I. Petitioner claims that his U rating, "which penalized him for Common Core test results, is contrary to the Regents' ban, and violates Petitioner's rights." Adler amended affirmation, ¶ 15.Petitioner contends that his U rating was arbitrary, as White "cherry picked" a number of criteria to form her opinion and that petitioner's performance of multiple daily tasks was not mentioned in the evaluation. Moreover, according to petitioner, performance reviews should list both positive and negative assets. White's evaluation contained no positive feedback, leading petitioner to believe that it was pretextual and subjective. Petitioner claims that he had received eight satisfactory ratings prior to this U rating and that he should have also received a satisfactory rating for 2014-2015.
Petitioner further argues that the U rating should be annulled because there were procedural deficiencies with the rating process. For example, contrary to the rules set forth in petitioner's handbook, petitioner was given the U rating on the last day of the school year. In addition, the letters to file, allegedly demonstrating petitioner's failure to comply with deadlines, did not meet the criteria for letters to file. As a result, according to petitioner, these letters should not have been included in his personnel file or been provided at the hearing.
Petitioner alleges that, between the mid-year review and the final U rating, he was not informed of any continued deficiencies or provided with any appropriate professional [*4]development to remedy these deficiencies. According to petitioner, White did not provide him with any negative or positive feedback during this time.
The DOE does not address many of petitioner's contentions.[FN3] In support of its answer, the DOE provides an affidavit from White. White states that, "[i]n addition to not meeting two of his four goals, Petitioner failed to meet several key deadlines that he was responsible for, was at times insubordinate, had to constantly be reminded to perform job duties, and in general repeatedly performed tasks hastily and displayed an apathetic attitude as to whether my directives were carried out." White aff, ¶ 16.
White then provides examples of petitioner's deficiencies, including, among others, failing to properly monitor hallways between class periods and ensure that they were clean and failing to make sure bulletin boards had student work posted. She states, "[w]hile I only drafted a few disciplinary letters, I kept copious contemporaneous notes on which this affidavit is based." Id.
White further claims that she met with petitioner 18 times and, during these meetings, provided him with professional development.
The DOE alleges that, in sum, petitioner met Goals B and C, but failed to meet Goals A and D. In addition, petitioner repeatedly failed to meet deadlines and follow through on directives.
The DOE contends that the petition fails to state a cause of action because petitioner "concedes that he failed to follow directives and meet deadlines, but purports that they were unreasonable." DOE's memo of law at 1. For instance, the DOE argues that, even assuming Goal A was impossible to meet because it was based on test scores that came out after the evaluation period was over, it was petitioner who created that goal at the beginning of the year. Therefore, according to the DOE, "if petitioner created a goal which was incapable of being completed, such failure is self-inflicted." Id. at 5.


Consistent with judicial reviews of administrative agency determinations, judicial review of the U rating questions whether the U rating was "arbitrary and capricious or made in bad faith." Matter of Gutman v City of New York, 134 AD3d 547, 547 (1st Dept 2015); see also Matter of Rieser v New York City Dept. of Educ., 133 AD3d 465, 466 (1st Dept 2015) (Petitioner failed to show his U rating was arbitrary and capricious); CPLR 7803 (3). An agency's decision is considered arbitrary if it is "without sound basis in reason and is generally taken without regard to the facts." Matter of Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale & Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222, 231 (1974). Once a court finds a rational basis for the agency's determination, its review ends. Matter of Hughes v Doherty, 5 NY3d 100, 107 (2005).
According to the DOE, the U rating is rational because petitioner failed to meet two of his four goals, he failed to complete tasks in a timely manner and he had other documented failures. In Goal A, improving test performance, petitioner was rated as not meeting the standard, even though the test results were not available until after the rating was given. The DOE blames petitioner for setting goals that could not be attained during the year. Nonetheless, the court finds that there is no rational basis for White to issue a U rating based on data that was not yet available.
Goal D, as explained in the facts, related to communications between parents and the school. Petitioner claims that he was supposed to increase communication with the parents and also monitor attendance at the PTA meetings. The parties disagree on petitioner's responsibilities with respect to Goal D and creating an actual survey for the parents. In any event, petitioner was faulted in his end-of-the-year evaluation for the decline in attendance at PTA meetings.
As parental compliance in attending PTA meetings was outside the scope of petitioner's goals, it was not rational for White to include this in the evaluation. Moreover, it is unreasonable to fault petitioner for something that is out of his control.
In addition to not meeting two of his goals, the DOE maintains that petitioner's U rating is supported by documented failures. White states that, for example, petitioner did not ensure that the hallways were properly monitored between class periods. White claims that, although she did not draft any disciplinary letters, she took copious notes, on which she based her affidavit. These incidents, as well as the others provided, are not a part of the record in support of the U rating that was presented to petitioner or the hearing officer. It is well settled that "[j]udicial review of administrative determinations is confined to the facts and record adduced before the agency [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]." Matter of Rizzo v New York State Div. of Hous. & Community Renewal, 6 NY3d 104, 110 (2005). As a result, the court will not consider any allegations by White or the DOE that were not a part of the U rating and record in front of the OAR hearing officer.
As set forth below, inconsistencies in the way petitioner was rated also contribute to the arbitrariness and capriciousness of the rating. At the beginning of the school year, during performance planning, petitioner created four goals to achieve during the year. During the mid-year review, these goals were addressed in relation to petitioner's performance and possible U rating with respect to not meeting these goals. However, at the end of the year, in support of the U rating, among other things, White presented four letters regarding missed deadlines or not following directives. Then, during the hearing, she added an additional criterion that, as petitioner in no way contributed to the progress of the school, he should be rated unsatisfactorily. Finally, in support of the answer, the DOE attempts to justify the U rating based on events not in the record. See e.g. Matter of Beriguete v New York Dept. of Educ., 2016 WL 3963259, *6-*7, 2016 NY Misc LEXIS 2708, *20-21, 2016 NY Slip Op 26229 (Sup Ct, NY County 2016) ("All told, [White's] conduct brings into question the objectivity of [her] ratings and evaluations of petitioner and whether [she] attempted in good faith to put petitioner on notice of his deficiencies and give him a chance to address them").
"It is well settled that a court may not substitute its judgment for that of the board or body it reviews unless the decision under review is arbitrary and unreasonable and constitutes an abuse of discretion [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]." Matter of Arrocha v Board of Educ. of City of NY, 93 NY2d 361, 363 (1999). Applying the law to the facts of this case, as explained above, the DOE's decision to sustain a U rating based on the record as presented lacks a rational basis and should be annulled.
Although the U rating can be annulled for lacking a rational basis, there are actually additional procedural deficiencies, as explained below. Petitioner claims that he was not provided with any positive or negative feedback between his mid-year and final evaluation. White testified that she gave petitioner regular feedback during meetings throughout the school year. The DOE argues that these alleged meetings provided petitioner with strategies on how to improve his performance, yet petitioner did not implement these strategies.
The record does not support the DOE's contentions. There is no indication that petitioner received formal meetings with White, professional development to address deficiencies, or that she provided written evaluations discussing petitioner's performance. For instance, although petitioner was advised that White would be returning in two weeks from the date of her walk- through to complete another assessment, there is no indication that this was ever done or that he received professional support.
Accordingly, the U rating can also be annulled on the basis that petitioner was not aware that he was in danger of receiving a U rating and that he was not given adequate professional development. As in Matter of Taylor v City of New York (139 AD3d 430, 433 [1st Dept 2016]), "[t]he record demonstrates deficiencies in the performance review process resulting in petitioner's unsatisfactory rating (U-rating) for the [2014-2015] school year that were not merely technical but undermined the integrity and fairness of the process." The Court in Matter of Taylor found that the U rating should be annulled because there was a lack of remediation after February and a long delay in providing feedback. The Court held, among other things, that the petitioner was "not given an opportunity to remedy the alleged defects and implement the multiple recommendations." Id. at 434; see also Matter of Murray v Board of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of the City of NY, 131 AD3d 861, 865 (1st Dept 2015) (U rating annulled when, among other things, there was "no evidence that petitioner was notified before the end of the school year in June 2011 that her work was considered unsatisfactory").
Petitioner alleges that the letters regarding missed deadlines were incorrectly placed in his file, contrary to DOE policy. In addition, petitioner received the U rating outside the time-frame provided in his handbook. A procedural deficiency is not trivial and may render a U rating arbitrary and capricious. Despite this, the DOE fails to address these claimed irregularities. See e.g. Matter of Applewhite v Board of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of the City of NY, 115 AD3d 427, 427 (1st Dept 2014) (Court annulled a U rating when respondents violated their own rules, procedures and guidelines by placing certain disciplinary letters in petitioner's file).

Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the petition is granted and David Possner's 2014-2015 end-of-year U rating is vacated and annulled; and it is further
ORDERED that the matter is remitted to the New York City Department of Education for further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision.

Dated: September 1, 2016




Footnote 1: Formally, the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York.

Footnote 2: Petitioner originally filed this article 78 after the appeal hearing had been held, but prior to the outcome. The DOE cross-moved to dismiss, based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies. After the outcome of the administrative appeal, the parties stipulated that petitioner had exhausted his administrative remedies and he then filed an amended petition, which is the subject of these proceedings.

Footnote 3: For example, the DOE does not dispute that petitioner received his U rating on June 26, 2015 nor does it address whether or not the letters complied with the criteria set forth in the collective bargaining agreement.