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Saturday, December 16, 2017

NYC Department of Education Admits That More Than 48,000 Students With Disabilities Are Not Getting The Services They Need

As a very successful Parent Advocate, I see kids in the NYC Department of Education pushed out, neglected, and denied a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) all the time, and it is so unfair to these children.

Preet Bharara
I posted former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's letter to NYC DOE General Counsel Courtenaye Jackson-Chase on my website Parentadvocates.org and on this blog.

When I am hired to do an Impartial Hearing to obtain funding from the NYC DOE for private school, the Department usually loses, because they cannot prove that they tried to give the child his/her services, and in many cases cannot account for the missing federal funding, either. These are crimes.

Almost as disturbing is that the NYC DOE does not inform the parents of children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that they have the right to request funding at an Impartial Hearing!

So many children graduate without proper support and without an appropriate education. Shame.

Betsy Combier
betsy@advocatz.com
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48,000 Students With Disabilities Not Getting Help They Need, DOE Admits
By Amy Zimmer | November 2, 2017 2:23pm


MANHATTAN — The Department of Education admitted Wednesday that more than 48,000 of its special needs students did not get the legally required help they were entitled during the past school year.
But at least it was not as bad as it was the year before.
A new DOE report detailing demographic data of students with disabilities showed that approximately 27 percent of the roughly 193,000 students with disabilities were in schools that were not fully meeting their needs — like counseling for behavior disorders, speech therapy for language delays, occupational therapy for motor delays or visual services for vision impairments — mandated by their Individualized Education Program (IEPs.)
That was down from a year ago when 41 percent of students who were only getting partial or none of their services, according to the report.
“The fact remains that over 25 percent of students with disabilities — nearly 50,000 students — are still going without all of the special education services they are entitled to receive under law,” Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, said in a statement. “NYC has a lot of work to do.”
Watchdogs are concerned that without getting their mandated support services, many children with disabilities are unable to meet their academic and developmental goals. Only 10 percent of students with disabilities passed the state English exam given to the city’s third through eighth graders least year, Sweet pointed out.
Under federal law, the city must ensure that students with disabilities are in the "least restrictive" environment possible, which means that neighborhood schools must accommodate these children rather than shunting them off elsewhere. But these schools don't always have the staff and other resources to provide kids what they need.
Roughly 19 percent of the city's 1.1 million students have IEPs.
A middle schooler with an IEP mandating a seat in a mixed math class of disabled and non-disabled students co-taught by a special education teacher and general education teacher, for instance, might instead be placed in a general ed class for the subject.
Staten Island’s District 31 had the most students with IEPs, at more than 15,400, followed Manhattan’s District 2 (which includes TriBeCa, Greenwich Village, Gramercy and the Upper East Side) and the Bronx’s District 10 (which includes Riverdale, Fordham, Belmont and Kingsbridge).
Lori Podvesker, of the advocacy group INCLUDEnyc, was not surprised to see Staten Island’s high number of students with special needs.
“It’s incredibly insular. It’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know,” she said, adding that families in the borough have strong political clout. “They have some fantastic parent advocates out there,” she said.
Certain districts have a tougher time meeting the needs of students, she added, because of such problems as a shortage of bilingual therapists.
“The poorer the district is, the more likely the need for bilingual therapists. And that’s not happening.”
The DOE’s report conceded the dearth of special needs educators.
“One core challenge is a shortage of qualified teachers for certain license areas, notably bilingual special education teachers and secondary special education teachers,” the report said. “The DOE is actively seeking to address this challenge through large scale and targeted efforts to expand our special education pipeline, engagement with union partners, and work with the New York State Education Department to revisit policies and identify new strategies to increase the availability of appropriately trained and certified teachers.”
The DOE also has long had problems tracking IEPs through its custom-made program Special Education Student Education System (SESIS), which led to a lawsuit from the Public Advocate’s office.
The city is now investing $16.2 million to improve the system over the next several years.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Defining the Limits of 3020-a Arbitration and Pursuing Litigation After Arbitration Ends

Lillie Leon
What is a fact about 3020-a arbitration is that anyone charged and going to a full hearing has a period of self-doubt, anger, and emotional distress. In most of the cases I have studied over the past 14 years there are certain recurring events, such as false claims and outrageous lies made against a stellar education professional while the witness is under oath to tell the truth; and, personal angst while a stellar career is shredded for no valid reason. No one finds it easy to sit at a table and look straight into the eyes of a person who you know is lying, and the sad reality is that witnesses for the opponent are prepped with a script that often is not filled with facts or any truth at all.

But it must be done, as one of the terrible twists in the rubber room process  (the 'rubber room' is, to me, not a place, but a process ) is that if you resign, settle, or don't testify and go to a full hearing, your future is dim to zero to work for the school district or its vendors ever again.

There is every reason to fight to clear a stellar name but many charged educators only think about an immediate solution, not long-term consequences, and do not file cases to rectify the wrong-doing of the DOE after the 3020-a is over.

Arbitrators who sit as hearing officers in 3020-a arbitration say that they are supposed to examine the charges and the charged period, nothing more. They also may insist, at the demand of the school district, that any racial/age discrimination and/or workplace harassment, disability issues, and anything else that is not mentioned in the charges cannot be brought into the hearing record.

We at Advocatz do not agree, to a certain extent.  We always see the need to prove bad faith and malicious prosecution by administrators who create false charges, so that our clients may file a claim in State or Federal Court for remedies not available to them in the 3020-a process in addition to an Article 75 Appeal. Thus we do bring in facts that may lead to a discrimination or harassment charge, but we do not present the entire evidence we have on any of the issues which may be brought to Court later on.

In the case of Lillie Leon, an 80-year old kindergarten teacher who sued the Department of Education in Federal Court for age discrimination after being terminated at 3020-a, the Second Circuit vacated the dismissal of plaintiff’s age/disability discrimination, retaliation, and accommodation claims, and held that a finding pursuant to NY Education § 3020-a that a teacher was fired for “cause” does not necessarily preclude a viable claim for discriminatory termination under principles of collateral estoppel. The Second Circuit overturned the dismissal of Leon's case in the district court effectively stopping Leon for suing the Department after she was terminated for insubordination and neglect of her duties.

Betsy Combier
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Employment Discrimination Claims Not Collaterally Estopped By Finding That Teacher Was Fired For “Cause” Under New York Education Law § 3020-a

by MJPOSPIS on MAY 25, 2015

in AGE DISCRIMINATION, EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION, EMPLOYMENT LAW

In Leon v. NYC Dept. of Education, a Summary Order dated May 22, 2015, the Second Circuit vacated the dismissal of plaintiff’s age/disability discrimination, retaliation, and accommodation claims, and held that a finding pursuant to NY Education § 3020-a that a teacher was fired for “cause” does not necessarily preclude a viable claim for (e.g.) discriminatory termination under principles of collateral estoppel.

In this case, the district court held that since the state proceedings “concluded that Plaintiff was dismissed for insubordination and neglect of her duties, not because of unlawful discrimination[,] Plaintiff’s claims, as they relate to her 2011 termination, are collaterally estopped from relitigation in this Court.”

The Second Circuit disagreed.

Here’s the law:

Under New York law, the doctrine of collateral estoppel bars re-litigation of an issue when: (1) the identical issue necessarily was decided in the prior action and is decisive of the present action, and (2) the party to be precluded from relitigating the issue had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior action. The bar can apply even if the tribunals or causes of action differ. Section 3020–a findings are entitled to preclusive effect.

Applying the law, the court explained why the district court’s dismissal was improper:

The District Court erroneously concluded that the Section 3020–a hearing’s “determination that there was cause for [Leon’s] termination precludes [Leon] from making a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation[.]” There is no indication that the Section 3020–a hearing addressed, much less “actually decided,” whether the charges leading to Leon’s termination were driven, even in part, by discriminatory or retaliatory intent. The court’s error thus stems from the faulty assumption that termination for cause necessarily precludes the possibility of termination motivated by unlawful animus. “[T]he hearing officer’s determination that [the plaintiff] had engaged in the charged conduct, and that these violations called for h[er] termination, does not preclude a jury from later finding that [the plaintiff] was also terminated at least in part because of [discriminatory reasons]. The plaintiff could be successful on the [discrimination or retaliation] claims even if the jury were to accept that there were legitimate reasons for terminating h[er], too.”

Likewise the District Court erroneously concluded that the Section 3020–a hearing’s determination “that Plaintiff did not apply for an accommodation for air conditioning from [DOE’s] Medical Bureau” precludes Leon “from alleging a necessary element of her failure to accommodate claim.” While Leon is estopped from challenging the Hearing Officer’s factual finding that she failed to apply to the Medical Bureau for an air conditioning accommodation, Leon also alleges that she informed Defendants of her air conditioning-related health concerns and had filed medical documentation to that effect with the school. The overall adequacy of Leon’s accommodation requests cannot be determined based on the Amended Complaint or documents reasonably viewed as incorporated in it.

Therefore, the court vacated the dismissals of plaintiff’s discrimination, retaliation, and accommodation claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York State State Human Rights Law, since those dismissals could not be justified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

In George v. Professional Disposables Int’l, Inc., 2017 WL 4574806 (S.D.N.Y., 2017), an employment discrimination case, the court denied defendant’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff alleged that he was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment based on his race, color, and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law.

In its decision denying summary judgment to defendant, the court held (with respect to plaintiff’s discrimination claim) “that a reasonable juror could find both that Plaintiff had established a prima facie case of discrimination and that Defendant’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for his termination were pretext for discrimination” and (with respect to plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim) “that a reasonable juror could, on the basis of Plaintiff’s testimony that his direct supervisor made offensive remarks regarding his race and national origin at least five times per day, find that Plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment.”

In seeking reconsideration, defendant argued that the court incorrectly applied the law when it determined that plaintiff’s direct supervisor’s (Joseph Zocalli’s) alleged remarks regarding plaintiff’s race, color, and national origin give rise to an inference of discrimination.

The court cited the rule that “in determining whether a statement regarding an employee’s protected characteristics is probative of discrimination, courts often consider whether the speaker played a ‘meaningful role’ in the adverse employment action.” Applying the law, the court held that “the record contains sufficient evidence for a reasonable juror to conclude that Zocalli did, in fact, play a meaningful role in Defendant’s decision to terminate Plaintiff’s employment.” It noted, for example, evidence that this person was plaintiff’s direct supervisor, had a significant role in the investigation that ended in plaintiff’s termination, and initiated that investigation.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another Principal is Busted in a Grade-Inflation Probe: Sara Belcher-Barnes

Are there any principals in New York City who can say he/she did not change a grade on students' transcripts? See the story of former DeWitt Clinton Principal Santiago Taveras. He was guilty of changing grades and student transcripts to reflect a higher graduation rate, then he was removed from DeWitt Clinton and made an Administrator for the NYC Department of Education, leaving teachers charged with 3020-a and put onto the Problem Code, simply to try to deflect attention away from Taveras' own misconduct, behind. His punishment? A $5,000 fine and then a new job paying him only $149,826.00 as an Educational Administrator Level IV. Go figure.

And then there is the Welton Sawyer story. He, like Santiago Taveras, is assured a job in education administration somewhere in the USA, because he is one of the re-usable-to-keep-silent administrators who the System cannot set free:

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Welton L. "Tony" Sawyer is In Trouble Again

Oh my goodness. I am so totally shocked over the ouster of Welton L "Tony" Sawyer from the position of Superintendent in Mount Vernon over a sexual relationship with a teacher and then giving her a position she was not qualified to have....

Not.

When Welton "Tony" L. Sawyer was Superintendent of District 3 in Manhattan, a group of parents - including me - went to him in protest of the removal of one of the most popular teachers ever at La Guardia HS For The Performing Arts (one of my daughters was there, graduated in 2005). His name is "John Doe", brother of Dan, the principal of PS 6 who was appointed after Carmen Farinawas removed and upgraded to Superintendent of District 15 in Brooklyn (where she covered up her placement of Brooklyn Tech's Principal Lee MacCaskill's daughter in an elementary school although both Lee and his wife lived in New Jersey - see the story of Steve OstrinBad administrators simply are transferred, continuously, until they retire. To what do we owe this disdain for law and rules, as well as for public money misspent? I think it is the arrogance of immunity, the "you cant do anything to me so I dont care what you think" attitude that in New York City public schools is the way things are run.

Gotta change this.

 

BETSY COMBIER


Carmen - change this! Hold your people accountable.

Betsy Combier
betsy@advocatz.com
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Sara Belcher-Barnes

DOE probe shows Brooklyn principal altered student transcripts


The Department of Education finally revealed this week that it had substantiated charges against a Brooklyn principal for fudging the transcripts of high school students by giving them credits for health and gym classes they never took.
PS 27 principal Sara Belcher-Barnes, who has worked in the city’s public schools system since 1982, agreed to retire from the kindergarten-through-12th grade Red Hook school last month when faced with charges that included assigning instructors to teach out of license.
She could not be reached for comment but denied tampering with at least 19 student transcripts, according to the Office of Special Investigations report.
However, one teacher told investigators that Belcher-Barnes had instructed her to “enter passing grades for all of the students who were missing grades for health and physical education” toward the end of the 2007-08 school year.
The unearned credits wouldn’t just help kids graduate on time but would also boost the ratings of the school and principal.
The lengthy probe by the DOE’s internal investigative arm also continues a trend where some cheating probes involving principals inexplicably drag on for years.
Allegations of impropriety were made against Belcher-Barnes in February 2009, and the OSI report indicates that interviews of witnesses were conducted the following month.
Yet a report detailing the findings wasn’t issued until a year-and-a-half later, on Aug. 30, 2010.
In addition, repeated inquiries made by The Post about the status of the case in December 2010 and January, March and May 2011 went unanswered by the DOE’s press office.
A spokeswoman did not reveal that the charges had been substantiated until June 10, 2011 — nearly 10 months after the case had actually concluded.
She did not respond to questions yesterday seeking an explanation for the slowness of the probe and for her delay in confirming its status.
“I’ve long been concerned about the length of time cheating investigations are held open,” said Panel for Educational Policy Manhattan-appointee Patrick Sullivan. “There appears to be no rational explanation except that the DOE seeks to avoid the embarrassing news that a closed case would potentially bring.”
In other drawn-out cases, Lehman HS principal Janet Saraceno has been under investigation for transcript-tampering since October 2009 and Theatre Arts Production Company HS principal Lynn Passarella has been probed for grade-fixing since January.
OSI also took three years to clear two others principals of cheating — in one case attributing a six-month delay to a misplaced file.
Additional reporting by Lachlan Cartwright

Brooklyn principal Sara Belcher-Barnes busted in grade-inflate probe

JOE KEMP, ELIZABETH LAZAROWITZ, JONATHAN LEMIRE MAR 10, 2009 9:41 AM


The principal of a Brooklyn school set to close due to poor performance was busted for fudging the grades on students' transcripts, the Daily News has learned.
Principal Sara Belcher-Barnes was led from Public School 27 Thursday afternoon after Education Department investigators charged that she was boosting students' grades in a bid to make the school look better, according to sources.
Carrying her personal belongings, Belcher-Barnes was led from the Red Hook building by school investigators, and an assistant principal was put in charge, according to a source familiar with the probe.
The Education Department's only comment yesterday was to confirm Belcher-Barnes was being reassigned.
But sources said the embattled principal was at the center of two investigations being conducted by the DOE's internal Office of Special Investigations and a third being carried out by the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity. "We are aware of the issue," said a spokeswoman for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. "She was removed from the school pending the investigation, and we are looking into the matter."
The Huntington St. school, which houses classes from kindergarten to 12th grade, will never graduate a full class from its high school, which was opened two years ago. PS 27's elementary and middle schools received a D on their report card for 2007-2008 and received an F for "student performance." The middle school will be phased out, and the elementary school will be replaced by a new school.
In December, Belcher-Barnes had said in a note to parents that nearly 75% of all PS 27 students didn't meet reading standards, nearly 67% weren't on grade level in math and only a smattering of high school students were going to be permitted to graduate, according to school sources.

jlemire@nydailynews.com

Friday, November 10, 2017

Burying The Evidence: StudentsFirstNY Says Data From 2015-2016 on Teacher Evaluations Are Hidden

What is the real story? I think it is that no one is accurately reporting on why NY State does not get it right on evaluating teachers.

The evaluation process is way out of sync with a teacher's actual performance, with 60% of the end of year rating based on observation reports. That is crazy, since there is no data in observation reports, according to Elentuck v Green202 A.D.2d 425; 608 N.Y.S.2d 701; 1994 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1956. Observations are opinions, not facts: 

 "The lesson observation reports consist solely of advice, criticisms, evaluations, and recommendations prepared by the school assistant principal regarding lesson preparation and classroom performance.  As such, these reports fall squarely within the protection of Public Officers Law § 87 (2) (g) (see, Matter of Town of Oyster Bay v Williams, 134 A.D.2d 267, 268)."

Betsy Combier
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Doug Band, President of StudentsFirstNYand Teneo Holdings













StudentsFirstNY Analyzes Buried Data on Teacher Evaluations

Leading education reform organization StudentsFirstNY issued a new report called Burying the Evidence that analyzes previously unreported findings from the 2015-2016 teacher evaluation ratings. In past years this data was widely released to the public, but this year, the State Education Department (SED) posted the ratings with little to no public engagement. 
“No wonder education officials avoided a public discussion on evaluations when they show all teachers are great despite low student performance," said StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis. "The State Education Department must follow the law and hold adults accountable for student learning."
StudentsFirstNY analysis shows:
  • 99% of NY teachers outside NYC are rated Effective/Highly Effective and a shocking 71% are rated Highly Effective.
  • More than half of NY's school districts rated 100% of teachers Effective or above on observations.
  • NYC has made a mockery out of a system that was previously on track to be a model:
    • 9.5 out of 10 NYC teachers were rated Effective/Highly Effective when only 4 out of 10 students are proficient on grades 3-8 reading and math.
    • 18 out of 19 NYC schools with less than 10% student proficiency on the 2016 NYS ELA exams have ZERO Ineffective teachers.
    • There's a school with 1% of students passing state math exams but 100% of teachers are rated Effective.
  • SED is not monitoring districts in the way the law requires. 
To read the full report: "BURYING THE EVIDENCE: StudentsFirstNY Analyzes Hidden 2015-16 Teacher Evaluation Ratings," click here (PDF).

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The NYC DOE Gives Money Bonuses To Schools Which Need It The Least

The swimming pool at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan:


and the well-funded library of PS 6 on the Upper East Side:



When I asked the School Leadership Team, Parents Association, and Principal Stanley Teitel where the money was being allocated at Stuyvesant High School, the AP for Special Education Jay Biegelson, the AP for Guidance Gene Blaufarb (now at CUNY), and AP Eleanor Archie put Jay Biegelson's name on the parent line of my oldest daughter's Individualized Education Plan which decertified her, all without telling me anything.

These administrators told the NYC DOE Committee on Special Education that I would not respond to their requests to meet with them, even though I was the Editor of the PA Bulletin and on the Executive Board of the school.

The Stuyvesant PA turned on me and attacked me (Paola De Kock led the attacks on the Chinese parents at Stuy and now is, ironically, the Senior Director of NYC DOE Parent Engagement) and the chinese coalition I  was helping, who uncovered the missing money.

Stuy parent Paola De Kock who became the ally of Leonie Haimson
When I cited the missing $13,000 missing from the PTA at Booker T. Washington MS 54, I was attacked by the white parents who saw their precious entitlement being threatened.

When I asked where the money was that Carmen Farina was, as Principal, in control of at PS 6 as the grant from the Annenberg Challenge For The Arts, Carmen called me up on May 23, 2000 and screamed that I was a bitch, a witch, a thief, a liar and much worse. I listened to her screaming for 20 minutes then hung up on her, and a few weeks later reported her for violation of SLT rules  (the NYC DOE reprimanded her, then removed her as principal in February, 2001) by having only 4 hand-picked people on the School Leadership Team.

So if anyone finds out about theft in their school I suggest going immediately to the police. Dont stop at the principal's office on the way there, but on the way back after you file a complaint.

FYI: my 4 daughters attended Stuyvesant High School (2), the "FAME" HS La Guardia, and the G&T school NEST+M

Betsy Combier
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Mysterious Bonus Makes Rich NYC Schools Richer, Critics Say
· by Mike Elsen-Rooney

When New York City officials revamped the way public schools were funded more than a decade ago, they emphasized one goal above the others: Making school spending more equitable in the nation’s largest system.
They also included a provision that critics say is doing just the opposite: an annual bonus of almost $1,000 per student at 13 of the city’s elite high schools, where students are wealthier than the city average and alumni foundations can raise millions of dollars for extras.
That means that students at these schools — where only 15 percent of students are black or Hispanic, compared to almost 70 percent citywide — are getting almost $18 million more this year than they would have without the bonus, according to Department of Education data. Since 2012, when the department began publishing complete information on how schools are funded, the group of 13 schools has received more than $100 million from the bonus.
That group includes the city’s eight exam-based specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School, where admission is based on a single, three-hour multiple-choice test known as the SHSAT.
It also includes two highly competitive early college high schools, Bard Manhattan and Bard Queens, and two newer schools, Millennium Brooklyn and the NYC iSchool, both of which screen students based on middle school grades and test scores. Townsend Harris in Queens, which has its own competitive screening process, also gets the targeted bonus.
Critics worry that the bonus exacerbates inequality by giving the city’s most exclusive high schools a financial boost unavailable to most schools in the city.
“Students that have made their way into the specialized high schools have largely done so as a result of advantages their families have been able to give to them already,” said Lazar Treschan, director of youth policy at the Community Service Society of New York, a nonprofit advocacy group that joined a legal complaint filed by the NAACP in 2012 challenging the SHSAT as discriminatory (the complaint is still pending with the U.S.Department of Education).
“They don’t need even more additional resources from the DOE at this point,” he said.
But many educators and parents defended the additional money for the schools, saying they are vastly underfunded and have trouble meeting higher academic demands.
“Too often in this country, we’re sticking to the middle and mediocrity,” said Elissa Stein, a former PTA co-president at Brooklyn Tech. “But I also believe there are kids who are high achievers who deserve the opportunity to achieve. And sometimes they need extra funds to go above and beyond.”
The Department of Education defends allocating the funds to the 13 schools, saying that they incur more costs by exceeding the academic requirements of traditional high schools. But department spokesman Will Mantell could not explain specific criteria for which schools receive the bonus.
The bonus, like the bulk of funds for school budgets, is distributed through a formula that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein rolled out in 2007, called “Fair Student Funding.” The funding guide stipulates only that the money go to “academically challenging high schools.” But Mantell could not say why, for example, Millennium Brooklyn receives the bonus, but its sister school, Millennium Manhattan, which has a similar curriculum and admissions criteria, does not, or why the iSchool was added to the list. 
Before the formula was instituted, the department’s central office gave most schools a fixed number of teachers per student, rather than dollars. But schools with more veteran teachers, who earn more, ended up getting more money to cover those larger salaries.
The net effect, according to Klein, was that schools with similar populations of students ended up with vastly different amounts of city money. The new formula gave all schools a fixed number of dollars per student, allowing principals the freedom to spend the money as they chose.
Currently, city schools are supposed to get about $4,000 of city money for every student on their register. They get additional dollars based on the number of students who need extra academic support. Students who are learning English, for example, bring an extra 12 to 55 cents on the dollar. Special education students and students who are struggling academically bring extra money as well.
Separately, schools get state and federal funds, and money for special city initiatives, such as the drive to offer Advanced Placement classes in all high schools.
But critics of the formula say it has never achieved the equity it promised. And they point to the bonus for specialized academic schools as one reason why.
“The idea behind Fair Student Funding was that the driver for school budgets was student characteristics, rather than the type of school,” said David Bloomfield, a professor of Education Leadership at Brooklyn College. “By creating, or re-creating, a system based on favored school labels, the DOE is somehow saying that all schools are equal but some are more equal than others.”
The specialized schools are part of a larger group of schools that get extra money from the formula because they offer alternative models of education that cost more to operate, according to the Fair Student Funding guide. These include performing arts high schools that require auditions for admission, career and technical schools and transfer schools for students who have dropped out of traditional public schools.
Critics say that extra funding for certain schools, and especially already-thriving ones, undermines the logic of Fair Student Funding.
“What needs to be ‘specialized’ about academics?” said Jill Bloomberg, principal of Park Slope Collegiate High School in Brooklyn, which shares a building with Millennium, but does not get the bonus. “What does an English class at Millennium need that one at Park Slope Collegiate doesn’t?”
Even with the bonus, the specialized high schools often get far less money per pupil than most schools. That’s because they serve few students learning English, special education students or low achievers. And like almost all city schools, they don’t receive 100 percent of the funding the formula calls for. That is a legacy of years of state budget shortfalls that routinely leave the city with less from the state than promised.
For example, Brooklyn Tech gets about 88 percent of the amount it is supposed to based on the Fair Student Funding formula (or $5,328 per pupil this year). Adam Stevens, a history teacher there, has seen both sides, having taught in schools that receive the academic bonus as well as those that do not. When Stevens compares Brooklyn Tech with Paul Robeson High School, the almost entirely black and Hispanic high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he taught before it was closed in 2014 for poor performance, he comes to this conclusion: “The kids at the regular, segregated schools need [the additional money] more.” 
At Brooklyn Tech, there’s both a genetics lab and a robotics program that are rewarding for students and teachers; Robeson High had neither. “The entire city should have these courses,” Stevens said.
Principals whose schools don’t get the bonus money say they have less ability to provide the kind of intellectual enrichment offered at the specialized academic schools – and that makes it harder to attract students at the annual open houses and high school fairs.
Each fall, some 80,000 New York City eighth-graders select from a dizzying array of more than 400 high schools, and rank their top choices. Choices can include schools required to accept anyone in their geographic zone and those that screen applicants based on grades, attendance and standardized test scores.
In such a competitive high school choice system, less established and less selective schools face constant pressure to attract more students, and say that even a little bit of extra money could help.
Harvest Collegiate, a small high school near Union Square that doesn’t screen applicants, gets $7,644 per student from the formula. Kate Burch, the principal and founder of Harvest Collegiate, points out that almost a third of the school’s students are in special education, and another third have serious academic needs. The money, she said, pays for bilingual teachers for English-language learners, case managers for special education students and extra tutoring for struggling students. 
That leaves little for after-school clubs, additional teacher training, advanced electives or the full-time guidance counselor Burch would love to hire. “To do all those things just takes extra money, period,” she said.
The differential funding has perhaps the biggest effect on schools that aren’t considered elite enough to qualify for the bonus, but don’t have the deficits that bring in extra money.
They are places like Forest Hills High School in Queens which does not get federal Title I funding, provided to schools with concentrated amounts of poverty. The Title I cutoff is around 60 percent; at Forest Hills, 53 percent are eligible, according to the principal, Ben Sherman. 
“We are in deep financial pain right now,” said Sherman. The school received $5,446 per student through the formula this year.
Townsend Harris High School, gets the specialized academic bonus – and gets almost $600 more per student from the formula than Forest Hills does, even though it had only four students below grade level and two students learning English this school year, according to the department’s data.
Critics say the specialized academic schools have a financial advantage even without the city bonus: well-resourced and well-connected parents and alumni. In addition, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science and Stuyvesant maintain endowments of $13 million, $6 million and $2.4 million, respectively, to help fund extracurricular activities.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Chicago Teachers Forced Out of Their Public School Positions Get Placed on the Do Not Hire List Just Like Here in NYC

The inspector general for Chicago Public Schools found that dozens of employees who were barred from the district found working in new jobs at city charter and contract schools last year. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)
New York City is not the only place that teachers are thrown out of their jobs, tarred and feathered, and placed on the "Do Not Hire" ("problem code") list.

Anyone charged with 3020-a, and anyone discontinued or terminated, whether tenured or not, is immediately placed onto a "problem code" - unless you are a VIP like Santiago Taveras, Carmen Farina or other people at their 'untouchable' level.

The UFT is not willing to end this blacklist. Some representatives say it does not exist. But it does, and it is, in my non-lawyer opinion, a libelous label used to back up false or unproven charges.

Indeed, when I worked for the UFT from 2007-2010, and my office was right next to Amy Arundel's office, I used to get calls all the time from members who wanted to know whether or not they were on this list, and I would walk next door and ask Amy, who would look up their file, and then she would tell me yes or no.

The problem code is a red flag put onto your file number to alert anyone that your fingerprints have been tagged as not cleared to work for the DOE or any vendors.

When a potential employer calls up the Department, and they ask about you and say that they are thinking of hiring you, all the DOE is permitted to say is how many years you worked for them. But seldom do they stop there. They go on to say that your file has a "Problem code".

Try it. Have a friend call DOE Human Resources and ask if you can be hired.

Joe McCarthy, where are you?

Anyway, if you are on the problem code, you must try to get off of it. What you need to do is, contact the Office of Personnel Investigations (OPI) at 65 Court Street, and ask for an appointment to discuss clearing your fingerprints. Bring someone with you who can support what you are saying - a teacher or educator who knows your skills and character is best.

At this meeting make an argument as to why you must have this red flag removed from your employee profile. Get the person's name and email address with whom you spoke, and email them what your argument was, after the meeting. Then wait for the decision. When you get the OPI decision, than you may file an Article 78 to overturn it, and then you can also sue the DOE if you have filed a Notice of Claim.

Read Chancellor's Regulations C-105.

OPI is here:


NYC Department of Education/DHRT
Office of Personnel Investigation
65 Court Street, Room 200
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Fax: 718-935-4366

Betsy Combier
betsy@advocatz.com
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

By Juan Perez Jr.
Chicago Tribune, October 24, 2017
More than 160 Chicago Public Schools employees who were barred from the district because of alleged abuse, misconduct or poor performance were found working in new jobs at city charter and contract schools last year, according to a report from the district’s inspector general.
The list included three workers who were fired or resigned and blocked from being re-hired at CPS because of sexual abuse accusations, according to the report, which was released Tuesday. Twenty-two were put on a “Do Not Hire” list “due to improper corporal punishment or physical abuse of students,” according to the report.
Nearly 80 others were blocked from returning to the district due to incompetence or violating school rules. That included a list of probationary teachers who were blocked from future employment at CPS because of poor performance.
The 163 unidentified employees — 98 of them teachers — represented a small fraction of the workforce at the city’s publicly funded but independently operated charter and contract schools, the reported noted.
But Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office also found that CPS had no system for those schools to determine if their potential employees had been blacklisted by CPS with the “Do Not Hire” designation. Despite preliminary steps taken to fix the problem, the IG’s office said CPS has not finalized a policy on how to handle such situations.
The report did not name schools that hired the former district employees. Officials from three of the city’s largest charter school operators either declined to comment on Schuler’s report or said their schools conduct criminal background checks but don’t have access to CPS’ list of prohibited employees.
Kelley Quinn, spokeswoman for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said in a statement that “charter schools have not had access to the Do Not Hire list, but are required to run independent background checks for all staff, which they have done.”
“We also look forward to working with the district to ensure charter public schools have timely access to the Do Not Hire list in the future.” Quinn said.
A district spokesman said CPS conducts background checks for more than half of all charter and contract operators. In those cases, job candidates agree to share whether they’re blocked from working at CPS.
Schuler’s office said CPS is “developing a protocol” for alerting independently run schools of job candidates who are prohibited from working in the district. The IG said CPS also hopes to cover current charter and contract school employees as well.
It’s not clear how many employees on the Do Not Hire list are still on the job at charters or contract schools. The IG’s office reached its conclusions after reviewing a list of charter and contract school employees from last winter.
The three school workers accused of sex abuse are no longer working at the charters that hired them, the IG said.
“The charter data that we asked for was effective in December of last year,” Schuler said in an interview. “It’s a snapshot date in December of last year. Therefore, we’re unable to say exactly how many of these people in the (group of) 163 are still at the charters today.”
One challenge, Schuler noted, is that the law allows charter schools “considerable latitude” on their hiring decisions.
State law prohibits schools from hiring candidates who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses. CPS also elects to bar a range of other offenders from being hired, though charter schools are not required to follow suit.

“Although the Board decides not to hire those individuals, it does not have a statutory basis to require charter schools to defer to the Board’s conclusions about the risks presented by those individuals,” Schuler’s office said.
jjperez@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @PerezJr