|Polo Colon at the Panel For Educational Policy 2009 (Norm Scott videographer)|
When I spoke with him briefly late in the evening of January 29 2017, I told him to hang on, and to stay in the fight. But he couldn't. The world lost this warrior early morning January 30, 2017.
His wake will be held at the Borinquen Memorial Funeral Home, 1461 Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn N.Y. 11207, sunday February 5, 2017, 3-9PM. If you want to donate flowers or any financial help to his family, please send to Polo's daughter Lanaette at
75-25 67th Rd.
Middle Village, Queeens, 11379
She told me that Polo asked for purple flowers.
He was the best teacher advocate I have ever met, and showed amazing courage in front of astonishing challenges. He was a gentle, kind man who always stood up to bullies and scam artists wherever they were. He had my back and I had his. I bet most people did not know he was a very talented musician, and sang with the band MALO. He also wrote music.
When Polo was charged with 3020-a he asked for a 3-member panel, as permitted by NYSED at that point -
|Hearing request with 3-member panel option|
See here for information about The Gotcha Squad:
How The New York City "Gotcha Squad" Gets Tenured Teachers Declared "Incompetent", and Placed in a Rubber Room by Betsy Combier (2009)
Despite the huge challenges brought by the Corporation Counsel and the NYC DOE against him, Polo survived, and continued to work as an ATR for the DOE until he retired a few years ago. He was the Treasurer of my Foundation, the E-Accountability Foundation, which is completely independent of this blog and my website Parentadvocates.org. His daughter Lanaette will take his place.
I will never be able to say enough about our friendship and collaboration, so I will let my previous posts on my website and blogs speak for themselves:
NYC Teacher Hipolito Colon Makes History and Sues the NYC BOE, The Panel For Educational Policy, and NYSUT For Violating His Rights (2006)
Polo was extremely distressed over the defamation of me by Francesco Portelos. I cannot and will not forget Polo's outrage.
Below are some memories which I will forever treasure. Rest in Peace Polo!
From Betsy Combier:
I met Polo in 2004 after I met another teacher, David Pakter, at a TV studio on the West Side of Manhattan in 2003. David talked about "the rubber room" and a "3020-a hearing", neither of which I had ever heard about before. I told him I would really like to find out more about 25 Chapel Street and the 3020-a hearing, so David told me he would sneak me in, and that he would tell his attorney, NYSUT's Chris Callagy, that he wanted me to sit in at his arbitration. I found out later that if a charged employee wanted a person to sit in his/her hearing, all they had to do is ask - but NYSUT did not want to tell anyone. I started publicizing the "open and public 3020-a hearing" so that all Respondents could have friends and relatives observe.
|Betsy Combier and Chris Callagy at David Pakter's 3020-a, 49-51 Chambers Street, 2009|
Polo, David Pakter and I worked together to make sure that our voices were heard. When there was a Panel For Educational Policy ("PEP") meeting with a lawless Executive Session, Polo called me or I called him, and we got there in time to sign up as the first speakers. Joel Klein and his Attorney Michael Best tried to cut us off, but their efforts only fueled our flames. As you will see in the videos below, both Polo and I call Joel Klein "Mr." Klein, because neither Polo nor I had a copy of his contract with the DOE. In fact, DOE FOIL attorney Susan Holtzman told me that Joel did not have a contract. So, I wrote an article "The Who Are You Kidding Award Goes To Joel Klein". Both Polo and I did not see how he could be called "Chancellor". We couldn't see how Carmen Farina or Dennis Walcott could be given that title, either.
See Polo's speeches on video, thanks to Norm Scott:
PEP Meeting September 2007
PEP meeting 2009
Polo was the first teacher who I knew about who sued the UFT and the DOE for putting him in the rubber room. I served his papers on the UFT at 52 Broadway, 9th Floor (NYSUT). I remember vividly when the Corporation Counsel scheduled a deposition at their offices at 100 Church Street, and the day before emailed Polo that I would be barred from entering the building. We had a good laugh, then Polo called his girlfriend and told her to arrive at 9:30am the following day dressed professionally. She became the Reporter of the event where I would be thrown out of a public lobby. Matthew Leighton, the Corporation Counsel attorney assigned to the case, was very cordial when he saw us, and escorted us up to the 4th floor, where he said there would be no problem if I wanted to come with Polo to the 2nd floor, but no one else could come. So the girlfriend left and we had the reporter set up to transcribe the hearing with the principal. When she was ready, Mr. Leighton immediately went into a diatribe on the record about how I had to leave immediately. Polo suggested (I wrote him a note) that Mr. Leighton get the judge on the telephone. Mr. Leighton unfortunately had to wire the room for outside calls, so the deposition of Liza Carabello was put off for 45 minutes while electricians put a speaker phone into the room. Then, Mr. Leighton called the judge's chambers and said to the law clerk that he had to get a ruling from the judge. The law clerk said that the Judge, Paul Fineman, was not there, but she could rule. Leighton told her that I wanted to sit in on the deposition, I was not a party, and he wanted her to order me to leave. She hesitated for a minute, then told him to cease and desist, I could sit there, give notes to Polo, and take him outside, the only thing I could not do was speak on the record. Polo tried not to laugh. I dont believe I mentioned that I had called a friend at the Supreme Court and asked him the very same question, before I went into 100 Church street to meet Polo. I already knew the answer. Mr. Leighton thanked the law clerk, but after he hung up was visibly angry. Polo did the deposition of Carabello and I was soooo proud of him. What a guy.
Then, in 2010 when UFT Staff Directors Ellie Engler, Leroy Barr and President Mike Mulgrew told me that I was helping too many members and they wanted me out of my office so they could give it to someone else, who came at 7PM with his SUV to the front door of 52 Broadway to load up all my boxes and bags in the pouring rain? Polo. He put all of the stuff in his apartment until I could figure out what to do with it. I've of course kept all my notes on the rubber rooms for my book, which Polo was going to co-author.
From The A For Accountability Award (trademarked by me 2005)
Hippolito "Polo" Colon was a tenured teacher at PS 120 in Brooklyn NY, when he became aware that the principal of the school was not following federal laws protecting the children in her care at the school. He wrote down what he believed to be illegal actions by the principal and called in the NYC BOE investigators. He believed that he would be protected by local, State, and Federal whistleblower laws, and the investigators would look into his allegations. Instead, the NYC DOE "investigated" him, and removed him suddenly and without warning from the school. He became another statistic of the New York City "rubber rooms", or re-assignment centers, where tenured teachers who are whistleblowers are dumped, and where these potential firecrackers sit, day after day, at long tables. Polo sat in the room for almost 1 year, and, like most of the other 400+ teachers in rubber rooms around New York City, asked for, but never received the charges describing the 'crimes' that he was accused of doing.