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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Good Public Policy Means Getting All ATRs Permanent Positions

I think one of the most surprising public policy events of the past 14 years or so in New York City is that there is a total lack of an effective, well-planned strategy for educating children and young adults in the nation's largest public school system. The changing curriculums every other year, the Renewal School Movement, the discipline code which targeted minority special education children, the suspension hearings' scam, even the "no cell phones allowed" racist policy, none of these worked yet all were supported as the next golden rule that would change everything for the better.

How is it possible that a group of highly educated, very intelligent people - the Mike Bloombergs and Joel Kleins of the world - could create such a complete mess as the ATR pool? And, on top of this grave error, take a stand that this was good for anyone, whether it be the kids, their parents, or staff in the schools?

Making kids suffer for teachers no one wants

The ATR boondoggle stinks and everyone who hears about it agrees with that assessment. I urge all readers of this blog to see that the media is full of Fake News on the subject of ATRs, yet no one, not Mike Bloomberg, not Joel Klein, Bill De Blasio, nor Carmen Farina, has apologized or been held accountable for the massive misuse of taxpayer money.

Give every person with the title "ATR" a permanent position and revise the evaluation and rating processes to make them more realistic and fair, then let all employees sink or swim. The "good" (effective) educators and Guidance Counselors will naturally rise to the top. Reward these people for hard work, respect everyone, and lead those who can't handle teaching into another profession. Its called retraining, not draining the swamp.

My bet is that intelligence is not as useful as common sense.

Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Ridding Schools of the Bloomberg/Klein Toxicity: Ending the Absent Teacher Reserve Pool in New York City is Long Overdue

The 74 is a national online education website co-founded by Campbell Brown, a former news anchor and virulent enemy of teacher unions, supporter of charter schools and Betsy; it is an advocacy website masquerading as a an informational site.
I was not surprised when a post by Dan Weisberg, former Joel Klein soldier popped up on the 74 site.  Weisberg currently leads TNTP, a not-for-profit that has consistently attacked teacher tenure and teacher assessment. The post, “Paying Teachers Not to Teach is Absurd – but Reviving NYC’s Dance of the Lemons Hurts Kids,” sounds like one of the endless press releases from the Bloomberg-Klein machine. Klein, an attorney, surrounded himself with attorneys, and we know what Shakespeare said about lawyers . Klein and Weisberg and company portrayed themselves as “disrupters,” changing the system by breaking down and rebuilding  from scratch, by creating chaos and building a new system from the ground up. After a dozen years of disruptive change the administration succeeded in disruption and failed to ensure positive change. The whirlwind of policy change after policy change alienated principals and teachers and confused the public.
On the eve of the 2013 mayoral election Sol Stern, in a City Journal essay offering advice to the new mayor wrote,
The public, for its part, remains dissatisfied with Gotham’s schools, according to a poll of city voters commissioned by the Manhattan Institute and conducted earlier this year by Zogby Analytics ….  New Yorkers now trust the oft-maligned teachers more than they trust the mayor’s office: almost half of all respondents said that teachers should “play the largest role in determining New York City’s education policy,” compared with 28 percent who thought that the mayor-appointed schools chancellor should.
A little background: for decades a few hundred teachers were excessed at the end of a school year, some schools had reduced registers, other schools had increasing registers. The excess teachers were placed in schools with vacancies, The contract Excessing Rules provided an orderly transition since the first contracts in the early sixties.
Another section of the contract provided for Seniority Transfers, half of all vacancies, vacancies were defined as open positions due to retirement or resignation, not leaves of absence, and posted in the Spring, In the early nineties a school approached the union with a plan, exempt the school from seniority transfers and a school committee made up of a majority of teachers would select new hires. The union agreed and after a few years the process was embedded in the contract. By the Bloomberg ascension 60% of schools had opted for what became known as the School-Based Option Staffing and Transfer Plan.
In the article referenced above Weisberg, with obvious pride, reports that he led the part of the negotiations that eliminated seniority transfers and established the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool.
The union was pushing for the SBO Staffing/Transfer Plan to replace the seniority transfer plan – it was easy to agree to the Open Market employment system – any teacher could move to any school with the approval of the receiving school; basically all teachers became “free agents” at the end of every school year. Thousands upon thousands of teachers change school every year, and, the movement is commonly from high poverty, lower achieving schools to higher achieving schools.
The evidence is clear, teacher mobility damages high poverty, low-achieving schools, In “Teacher Quality and Teacher Mobility, Li Feng and Tim Sass (February, 2011) conclude,
The most effective teachers who transfer tend to go to schools whose faculties are in the top quartile of teacher quality. Teacher mobility exacerbates differences in teacher quality across schools.
Numerous studies come to the same conclusion,
Hamilton Langford and others, “Explaining the Short Career of High-Achieving Teachers in Schools with Low-Performing Students,” (January, 2004),
Low achieving students often are taught by the least qualified teachers, these disparities begin when teachers take their first jobs and in urban areas they are worsened by teacher subsequent decisions to transfer and quit. Such quits and transfers increase disparities …  more qualified teachers are substantially more likely to leave schools having the lowest achieving students 
The long established seniority transfer plan required five years of service before a transfer – now annual “free agency,” the “disrupters” harmed the most vulnerable schools.
Weisberg, et. al., also are proud of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool, actually an attempt to rid the system is “bad teachers,” or maybe senior teachers, or maybe union activists or maybe simply to show the union and teachers who really was in charge.
The number of U-ratings under Klein/Weisberg escalated dramatically, close to 3% of teacher received unsatisfactory ratings. The appeals were a sham, the Department was judge and jury. Accusations of misconduct, defined as any conduct the principal thought was inappropriate, conduct that in prior years might result in a letter of reprimand now resulted in a trip to the infamous “rubber room.”. Eventually the teacher was dumped into the ATR pool; of the small number of teachers who were brought up on charges the vast percentage were exonerated or paid a fine and were returned to the ATR pool. The aim was to convince the legislature to change the law and require the teachers in the ATR pool for more than six months would be laid off. The union successfully defended seniority layoff rules.
Under the new teacher assessment law, based on principal observation and student growth scores, the number of ineffective ratings shrunk to pre-Bloomberg numbers.
The deBlasio-Farina Department has announced that ATRs would fill vacancies occurring after October 15th, and, if they received effective or highly effective ratings under the matrix teacher evaluation law, would be fully absorbed into schools, ending a toxic policy and saving the school system perhaps $100 million a year.
The “March of the Lemons” referenced by Weisberg should not refer to the teachers, it should refer to the “disrupters.” would soured the school system.
Additionally, the Department should consider:
* Creating an inspectorate, a group of principals who can observe ATRs who principals think are moving towards an ineffective rating. In the pre-Bloomberg days it was commonplace for the superintendent to observe teachers in their last year of probation.
* Open Market transfers require five years of service in a school to be eligible for transfer, not the current annual “free agency.”
Renewal and Focus/Priority schools should be given a window prior to all other schools to hire staff – perhaps six or eight weeks before all other schools could commence hiring.
Each and every year the New York City school system has to hire 3-4,000 new teachers due to teacher attrition – about 40% of teachers leave within five years, and, in the neediest schools the percentage is far higher.
Susan Moore Johnson, at the Next Generation of Teachers project at Harvard published research findings, “Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools, (March , 2004), as well as continuing their research into the issue.
Unfortunately little of the research has translated into policies within school districts and schools.
Good riddance to the ATR pool, and, lets help teachers who need assistance and support our new teachers.
Healing and supporting makes a lot more sense than disrupting and angering.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Carmen Farina Speaks at the New York Law School Breakfast August 25, 2017

Once a month, New York Law School holds a free breakfast at the school (185 West Broadway). It is no surprise that the large room the breakfast is held in, on the second floor, is always full. I imagine there are people other than me who go to not so much to hear what the speaker says, as to hear what the speaker does not say, or wont speak to.

I certainly did not get to 185 West Broadway a little past 8:00 AM on August 25 2017 to hear what Carmen Farina, the speaker, had to say. Her prepared remarks are boring and, well, prepared. Fake news. Public relations, supposedly "good" (as in "politically correct") news fit to print. Nothing meaningful.

Although Carmen did make one good point, and that is that the Department of Education is now using therapy dogs in elementary schools and the program is being expanded this year due to it's success last year. This IS news, because when I was a parent at PS 6 and Carmen was principal, I got her approval to set up a lunchclub every monday for 4th and 5th graders who wanted to find out about charitable organizations in the New York City area who helped people improve their lives. One of the groups I wanted to bring in was a pet therapy program with dogs. Carmen told me "Absolutely NOT...some child will be allergic, and then we will be in trouble".

I'm glad that Carmen changed her mind because I have done pet therapy, and it really works.

But the really interesting part of the breakfast occurred during the question and answer period, when an orthodox education advocate, Naftuli Moster, asked Carmen why she never responded to the request to review the lack of core subjects in yeshiva curriculum, Carmen said "no comment." Ross Sandler, standing next to her, advised the young man that she was not going any further. He took the next question, signaling the end to the young man's participation in the event. Of Course I, like many, wanted to know what was going on.  The NY POST published an article, see below, followed by an update on the issue.

A few questions later, an African American man stood up and said he was having problems with his twins. Carmen directed him to speak with an assistant of hers in the audience. Quite a different approach than what she did with the orthodox young man.

Carmen, you can - no you MUST - do better.

Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

De Blasio, Fariña still won’t force yeshivas to obey the law and teach
NYC Chancellor Carmen farina
Post Editorial Board

It’s now been fully two years since the city Department of Education said it was launching an investigation into allegations that students in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas aren’t being taught even basic classes in English, math and science.

Yet there’s no sign that the promised report into these disturbing charges is anywhere close to done — or even that the city is undertaking a serious investigation.
But don’t ask Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña: She doesn’t want to talk about it.
At a New York Law School breakfast Friday, an Orthodox education activist asked her about the matter.
Her response: “No comment.”
Pressed to answer, she replied, “This is a very complicated issue,” before her host cut off the questioner with a terse, “Thank you for your comment. Let’s move on.”
As it happens, there are complicated issues involved, like religious freedom. But we doubt that’s what Fariña meant.
No, the real complication here is that we’re in the middle of an election year.
It’s been five months since Fariña and Mayor de Blasio flatly denied The Post’s report that they were dragging out the investigation for political reasons. But they refused to say when it would be completed.
The activists, many of whom themselves received a yeshiva education, contend that ultra-Orthodox schools in Brooklyn and Queens provide only six hours a week of English and math instruction to boys ages 7 to 13, and no science or history at all.
After 13, even the English and math classes stop completely, leaving students lacking basic skills and unprepared for the workforce.
State law is perfectly clear on this: Parochial schools must provide instruction “at least substantially equivalent” to that in public schools. And de Blasio has said he has “zero tolerance” for any violations.
It’s time he and Fariña proved it — before the election. That’s not too complicated.

The city has blown its deadline for completing a politically explosive investigation into whether yeshivas are breaking the law by cutting out secular studies in favor of religious instruction. And NY1 Education Report Lindsey Christ reports, the city still cannot say when it will be finished.

It's been two years since the de Blasio administration said it was investigating religious schools serving tens of thousands of ultra-orthodox Jewish children.

The probe began after activist Naftuli Moster filed a complaint alleging that his yeshiva education left him wholly uneducated and unequipped to make a living.

"Boys ages 13 and up receive no secular education at all. So they attend yeshiva for as many as 14 hours a day, from 6:30 AM to 8:30 PM often, and they get zero secular studies," said Moster of Young Advocates for a Fair Education. "No English, no math, forget about science or social studies, which they don't even get in elementary school."

State law requires private schools to provide an education substantially equal to a public education, but the city and state have long taken a hands-off approach toward the yeshivas, despite providing them tens of millions of dollars in aid.

15 months ago, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told the City Council that it could expect a report on the investigation in a month.

But it still hasn't been issued, and she would not answer Moster's questions Friday about when it might be completed:

Moster: You've been informed about this more than two years ago, you said you were investigating. Last year, you said you were going to produce a report, and it has yet to come out.

Fariña: OK.

Moster: I think it's important to get a response. I think it's been long enough.

Fariña: The response is: No comment.

Moster: It's been way too long and it's not fair for tens of thousands of Hasidic children.

Fariña: This is a very complicated problem.

Moster: It's not complicated. You've solved so many other problems during this time. It's not fair for these tens of thousands of Hasidic children.

Official: Thank you for the comment. Let's move on.

On August 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio largely sidestepped a similar question. "We have a legal requirement to make sure that the proper education happens in every kind of school, so we are perusing that vigorously, I assure you," he said.

The ultra-orthodox community is close to de Blasio. The administration has been accused of waiting until after the mayoral election to act. Officials denied that, and earlier this summer, promised an interim report by Sept. 22.

But Friday, an education department spokeswoman said she could no longer provide a date for its release.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

ATRs Speak Out About Their Temporary Teaching Positions and Getting Permanent Status

Deborah Williams
Teachers who have senior status and are ATRs will have a difficult time getting permanent positions, say principals willing to go around any rule saying otherwise.  All the administrator from hell needs to do is make up something terrible or rate the ATR ineffective, and zoom, the person is re-assigned so that Department of Education attorneys can create the charges necessary to terminate (they hope) the employee at a 3020-a arbitration. There are, of course, principals in the system who will, after two years, make room in the school budget for an ATR senior teacher, but the fact remains that this hole in the school funding mix will be used by some administrators.

This hole can be fixed if the salaries of ATR tenured employees are automatically paid by the Department of Education, for an unlimited time. In the long run, this will save the City of New York millions of dollars in litigation fees and maybe assist administrators in crafting charges that are rational and true, not lies to keep their budget in the black or satisfy the whim or malicious prosecution of an administrator without morals and/or the needs of the students to have excellent teachers in the classroom.

See "NYC Teacher Wins More Than $250,000 From New York City and the NYC Department of Education Gotcha Squad by Betsy Combier"

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

‘They talk about you like you’re furniture.’ Three teachers on what it’s like to be in the Absent Teacher Reserve.
The education department recently released figures that shed some light on who is in the ATR, and the numbers could fuel critics who say it’s full of undesirable teachers. About a third of educators entered the pool because of disciplinary or legal reasons, and they are more likely to be poorly rated than teachers citywide, according to city data.

But those figures don’t speak to the day-to-day experience of educators who travel between schools without a permanent position.

Chalkbeat spoke with three teachers to learn what it’s like to be in the much-maligned pool. Here are their stories.

“I do think it’s hopeless.”

Deborah Williams was a literacy coach working with teachers at two schools — one in the Bronx and one in Manhattan. But Williams felt she lacked the support and cooperation she needed from the principals she worked with. She wanted to go back into the classroom as a reading teacher.
Instead, she was unable to find another position and wound up in the ATR pool. That was in 2006. Now, with 25 years of experience and a $110,000 salary, Williams said her relatively high pay makes it impossible to get hired permanently.

“The principals don’t even respond. It’s moot,” she said.

While she feels most qualified to work in early grades, Williams has taught high school English, bilingual students and even trigonometry. Williams said she spent five years at one elementary school teaching reading as an ATR. She pulled students out of class to work one-on-one and coached other teachers.

“I loved it there,” she said. The principal “treated me no differently than any other teacher.”

But Williams said the principal didn’t want to take on her salary, so she was never permanently hired. She still applies for jobs regularly, she said.

“I do think it’s hopeless,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be hired because of my salary.”

Principals have balked at the cost of teachers in the ATR pool, who tend to be more senior and therefore earn more. Department figures show that teachers in the pool earn an average salary of $94,000 and have 18 years of experience with the city.

The education department recently announced it would help subsidize the salaries of teachers hired from the ATR, but only for the first two years.
‘It’s not fair to the kids and it’s not fair to the teacher.’

Leonard Robertson is a music teacher with a dozen years of experience in New York City classrooms, and multiple masters degrees in his field. None of those qualifications came in handy when he was placed in a Italian classroom last school year.

Leonard Robertson
Robertson doesn’t speak Italian. So facing a month-long assignment to teach high school students the language, Robertson turned to opera.

“How do you break it down to show children they can do this?” he asked himself. “Language has the same thing music has: Meter, it goes over time. You can do things with words.”

Robertson entered the ATR in 2013, after the music program at the Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment high school was cut. Since then, he has bounced from school to school, often substituting for teachers in subjects he has no experience teaching.

“It’s not fair to the kids and it’s not fair to the teacher,” he said.

Figures released by the education department show that only 74 percent of teachers were rated effective, highly effective or satisfactory in 2015-16, compared to 93 percent of all city teachers overall. But Robertson said the evaluation system is stacked against teachers in the ATR, who are often teaching subjects outside of their expertise and given short-term assignments.

Professional development is almost nonexistent for ATR members, Robertson added. In fact, he said, teachers in the ATR are often subbing so that other teachers can go attend training sessions.

“I can’t compete if I don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

Randy Asher, the former Brooklyn Technical High School principal now tasked with helping the education department shrink the ATR, said teachers in the pool have access to trainings, often referred to as professional development or PD. But he conceded that it’s often not sustained or targeted to the teacher’s needs, since they are bounced from school to school.

“I don’t think it’s hard to get PD,” Asher said. “I think it’s hard to get constant PD on a regular basis.”

Robertson said he has received multiple “unsatisfactory” evaluations and been the subject of disciplinary complaints. But he largely attributes those to the difficulties of being in the ATR and feels he’s been unfairly targeted.

Under a new city policy, members of the ATR will be placed in year-long positions in schools that still have openings as of Oct. 15. The change will allow ATR members to engage in professional development and be evaluated by their principals, just like any other teacher in the building, Asher said.
‘They talk about you like you’re furniture.’

Kathy Perez has been teaching for more than two decades. But when she steps into New York City schools, that experience doesn’t seem to matter.

“When I go to work now, I don’t have a name. My name is ‘ATR,’” she said. “They talk about you like you’re furniture. I’ve heard conversations where I’m sitting there and they say, ‘Well, I’ve got the ATR here.’

“It’s like, ‘I’ve been in your building for a month. You can use my name.’”

Before Perez was first relegated to the ATR in 2009, she was a reading specialist in Queens. With a masters degree and certification in reading, she worked with struggling students, many of whom were still learning English. Her position was eliminated.

Perez found a new position at M.S. 72 Catherine and Count Basie in Jamaica, Queens. But Perez said she was pushed and trampled by students there, requiring surgery for her back and knee. She sued the education department and the city settled the case.

Then, Perez said, she was placed right back in the same school. She refused, and ended up back in the ATR. The stigma of being in the pool weighs on many teachers, she said, and makes it difficult to find another position.

“You’re not treated with any sense of dignity or professionalism,” Perez said. “You hear everywhere that you need to get fired and you need to just find a job. I’ll tell you something: I have a job. I go to work every day.”

Perez wants to find another position under her reading license. Otherwise, she would lose her tenure and seniority.

“I teach kids how to read, and I’m darn good at it and Iove it,” she said. “That’s where I want to be.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

NY State Supreme Court Judge Arlene Bluth Refuses to Grant Donald Vanterpool's Petition To Vacate His Termination at 3020-a

Don Vanterpool's Appeal Attorney was Bryan Glass.

Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

2017 NY Slip Op 31669(U)

CARMEN FARINA, Respondents.
Docket No. 655701/2016, Mot. Seq. 1.

Supreme Court, New York County.

August 7, 2017.



The cross-motion to dismiss the petition to vacate a hearing officer's determination to fire petitioner, a tenured teacher, is granted and this proceeding is dismissed.


This proceeding arises out of petitioner's employment as a tenured math teacher for respondents. Since the 2011-2012 school year, petitioner has worked at Bushwick Community High School—a transfer high school for students aged 18 to 21. The school functions as a "second chance" for students to graduate from high school. The principal at the high school during petitioner's employment was Mr. Llerami Gonzalez and Ms. Tutti Touray served as an assistant principal. Ms. Touray conducted all the observations, sometimes with Mr. Gonzalez, of petitioner's work.

Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, the City implemented a new rating system for teacher evaluations, which included four domains and four ratings (highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective). Teachers are given one of these four ratings for each of the domains (and the various. components within each domain) and for an overall rating.

As part of petitioner's application for a leadership program, Mr. Gonzalez provided petitioner with a letter of recommendation, dated November 1, 2013, in which he stated that petitioner has a "reputation as an extraordinary teacher" and he recommended petitioner "without reservation." However, for that same school year (2013-2014) petitioner received a Measure of Teaching Practice (MOTP) rating of developing and an overall rating of developing. Petitioner received the same ratings the next school year (2014-2015). For the 2015-2016 school year, petitioner received ratings of ineffective for both his MOTP and for his overall rating.

Respondents brought charges against petitioner under Education Law § 3020-a and sought a penalty of termination. At the hearing, respondents argued that petitioner was incompetent— for instance, they claimed he was not able to articulate strategies to help his students solve math problems. Respondents stressed inter alia that petitioner would put a problem up on the board and simply solve it without teaching his students.

Before the Hearing Officer, petitioner sought to characterize Ms. Touray and Mr. Gonzalez as not credible— he claimed that his observations were performed in bad faith. Petitioner noted that because of the transient nature of his students, it was difficult to engage them in the lesson.

The Hearing Officer concluded that respondents had met their burden to support every specification (Specifications 1a-o, 2, and 3b, c, g-k) except for Specification 3(a), (d), (e) and (f). The Hearing Officer found that Ms. Touray's testimony was credible and that petitioner admitted that Ms. Touray's notes were accurate (Hearing tr at 33). At the hearing, Mr. Gonzalez admitted that his letter of recommendation was not truthful but the Hearing Officer found his testimony credible as well (id. at 33-34). The Hearing Officer concluded that the testimony of various teachers at the school (who testified in support of petitioner) did not support petitioner's assertion that the administration was involved in a conspiracy to remove tenured teachers (id. at 34).

The Hearing Officer found that petitioner "was provided with extensive individualized professional development during each of the school years charged" but that he "was unable to implement recommendations or otherwise improve his pedagogy" (id. at 49, 51) The Hearing Officer added that "there is no likelihood that further remediation efforts would improve the [petitioner's] competency. Based on the entire record, there is just cause to terminate the [petitioner]" (id. at 51).


"Education Law § 3020-a(5) provides that judicial review of a hearing officer's findings must be conducted pursuant to CPLR 7511. Under such review an award may only be vacated on a showing of misconduct bias, excess of power or procedural defects" (Lackow v Dept. of Educ. [or Board] of City of New York, 51 AD3d 563, 567, 859 NYS2d 52 [1st Dept 2008]) [internal quotations and citation omitted]. "[W]here the parties have submitted to compulsory arbitration, judicial scrutiny is stricter than that for a determination rendered where the parties have submitted to voluntary arbitration" (id. at 567). The hearing officer's "determination must be in accord with due process and supported by adequate evidence, and must also be rational and satisfy the arbitrary and capricious standards of CPLR article
78. The party challenging an arbitration determination has the burden of showing its invalidity" (id. at 567-68). To overturn a penalty of termination the punishment must shock's one sense of fairness (Matter of Davies v New York City Dept. of Educ., 117 AD3d 446, 447, 985 NYS2d 76 [1st Dept 2014]).

A Hearing Officer's decision is not arbitrary or capricious where the "Hearing Officer engaged in a [thorough] analysis of the facts and circumstances, evaluated witnesses' credibility, and arrived at a reasoned conclusion" (Matter of Davis v New York City Bd./Dept. of Educ., 137 AD3d 716, 717, 30 NYS3d 2 [1st Dept 2016]).

In support of the cross-motion to dismiss, respondents maintain that there was more than enough evidence in the form of testimony and the 15 observations of petitioner's pedagogy to show that petitioner was incompetent. Respondents stress that the Hearing Officer issued a reasoned decision and made credibility determinations of the witnesses.

In opposition to the cross-motion, petitioner argues that the Hearing Officer did not properly evaluate petitioner's pedagogy and relied almost exclusively on the subjective evaluations of his administrators. Petitioner stresses that there were delays in receiving his observation reports and that this prevented him from implementing the changes contained in the reports.

The problem with petitioner's arguments are that his own admissions support the Hearing Officer's conclusion. Petitioner admitted at the hearing that he did not implement recommendations regarding differentiation (offering instruction to meet the individual needs of each student), noting that "because of the different levels that the kids are at, if I did that for every student I would be writing the lesson plan — it would take two to three hours to write the lesson plan and move forward (Hearing tr at 46 [sustaining Specification 3g]).

On November 19, 2015, a letter was placed in petitioner's file detailing his failure to have a lesson plan for class on November 12, 2015 (id. at 23). The letter noted that petitioner admitted that he did not have a lesson plan for that class (id.).

The Court also reviewed the observation reports and finds that although there were some delays in petitioner receiving his observation reports, these delays were not egregious nor did they prevent petitioner from implementing the recommendations over the course of three years. In many instances, petitioner acknowledged receiving the reports within a few weeks. For example, petitioner signed an acknowledgment that he received observations reports for November 13, 2013 and January 9, 2014 on January 29, 2014 (respondents' affirmation in support of the cross-motion, exh 2). Petitioner even added a response disagreeing with the conclusions of the January 9, 2014 report (id.). Further, despite the fact that petitioner acknowledged receiving the report for the March 20, 2014 observation on June 1, 2014, the form includes reference to a post-observation conference on March 25, 2014 and a detailed explanation of the numerous issues discussed at this conference (id.).

Another observation included immediate feedback — the December 22, 2014 informal observation includes petitioner's signature on that same day and specific notes about a feedback session on December 22, 2014 (id.). The Court notes that the instant facts are distinguishable from those in other cases where courts have found that delays in providing feedback justified vacating a penalty of termination (see Beriguete v New York City Dept. of Educ., 53 Misc3d 347, 36 NYS3d 556 [Sup Ct, NY County 2016]; see also Taylor v City of New York, 139 AD3d 430, 30 NYS3d 104[1st Dept 2016]).

The Court finds that the Hearing Officer made a rational and logical decision after hearing 12 days of testimony from both sides and the Hearing Officer's decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. The penalty of termination does not shock one's sense of fairness because petitioner had 15 observation reports over the course of three years to make improvements and failed to make the appropriate adjustments. While petitioner disagrees with the findings of his administrators, the Court cannot discredit these witnesses simply because petitioner disputes their conclusions. Of course, observations reports prepared by

Ms. Touray and Mr. Gonzalez (or any administrator) will always contain some aspect of subjectivity because they reflect the observer's thoughts of the lesson. But that does not mean they must be ignored — that is how the current system for teacher evaluations operates.

While the Court is bewildered at the existence and substance of the recommendation letter from the principal, that does not compel the Court to reach a different conclusion because Ms. Touray, rather than Mr. Gonzalez, was responsible for performing the vast majority of petitioner's evaluations. Clearly, Mr. Gonzalez should have been more careful before writing such an effusive letter praising petitioner — his admission at the hearing that the statements in the letter were untruthful is a shocking revelation, but it only reflects Mr. Gonzalez's poor judgment. It does not require this Court to usurp the Hearing Officer's credibility determinations regarding the testimony of Ms. Touray or other witnesses.


When reviewing Article 75 petitions to vacate teacher terminations, the Court can only determine whether the Hearing Officer's decision was arbitrary or capricious and whether the penalty shocks a sense of fairness. The Court cannot conduct a fact-finding hearing to evaluate witness credibility or to assess, as raised before the Hearing Officer here, whether administrators are simply firing experienced teachers in order to replace them with younger (and cheaper) instructors. Those are determinations to be made by the Hearing Officer.
Petitioner was provided with an opportunity to contest his evaluations and to offer theories regarding why his administrators should not be viewed as credible. The Hearing Officer rejected those claims.

Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED and ADJUDGED that respondents' cross-motion to dismiss the petition is granted and this proceeding is dismissed, and the clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

This is the Decision, Order and Judgment of the Court.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

FAKE NEWS ALERT: Capital Research Center's Hayden Ludwig's Article About ATRs

Below you will see one of the most disturbing articles on the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool that has appeared recently in the blitzkrieg to get public opinion around firing all of the people in NYC with this title.

Mr. Ludwig obviously knows absolutely nothing about the ATRs who are, according to him, currently re-assigned to offices to do nothing. Wrong. ATRs are currently in classrooms, not re-assignment centers. he writes, 
"napping, reading newspapers, doing crossword puzzles, or conducting menial tasks" this is not true, for many of the  ATRs, who have been given weekly or monthly assignments.

I had to laugh at Luwig's ignorance and lack of due diligence when he used the pictures of David Suker to prove his point, see below!

David Suker was brought to a 3020-a under false charges, that DOE Attorney Theresa Europe grabbed from David's past, about 10 years earlier, when his daughter was accepted into Columbia Prep on the upper west side of Manhattan, although David did not have an address in the District. I posted Ms. Europe's email in the article I wrote, showing her misconduct. When a parent gives an address for his/her child, the Department of Education has 30 days to check it out and to claim the address as false. But 10 years?

David asked me to help him in the Appeal of his termination at the 3020-a (his attorney was Stephen Friedman, NYSUT), and also asked Attorney Maria Chickedanz to work with me on the Appeal. Judge Alice Schlesinger and the Appellate Division agreed with us, that David's termination for the Department's misconduct was wrong, and David was given $250,000.

David Suker
NYC Teacher Wins More Than $250,000 From New York City and the NYC Department of Education Gotcha Squad by Betsy Combier

City loses $1M bid to fire teacher arrested in Occupy Wall Street

Why did Ludwig choose to use David Suker's picture? Bad reporting. Mr. Ludwig, thank you for exposing your lack of due diligence to uncover any real facts about ATRs. And by the way, many of the current ATRs are the best in the business, senior teachers who really know how to teach.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Below is Mr. Ludwig's error-filled article:

New Yorkers Pay $150 Million to Prop Up Bad Teachers, Then Send Them Back Into the Classroom

Once again, students are the victims of the misguided teachers' unions efforts to protect their members
by Hayden Ludwig
August 22, 2017
New York’s so-called “rubber rooms”—reassignment centers where hundreds of teachers in need of academic discipline are sent to do virtually no work—are a running joke in the city. Teachers in limbo are left to finish out each six hour day by napping, reading newspapers, doing crossword puzzles, or conducting menial tasks – stuffing envelopes and making paper copies.

It’s a time-out the New York Department of Education has long denied even exists, yet it costs taxpayers $150 million each year in teachers’ salaries and benefits. The average rubber room idler earns $94,000 a year, or $10,000 more than the average teacher salary in the school system. Unsurprisingly, the rigors of the rubber room aren’t enough to improve discipline. Many idlers are repeat offenders. Even the New York Times recognizes the problem:

Of the 822 teachers in the reserve at the end of the last school year, 25 percent had also been in it five years earlier. Nearly half had been in it at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Close to a third of the teachers in the pool were there because they had faced legal or disciplinary charges.

Faced with ballooning costs and unable to fire many tenured educators, the Department of Education’s solution is to flood local classrooms with some 400 of the worst teachers in the education system. The consequences are predictably dire. In underperforming schools (particularly in poor areas) bad teachers could take the place of potential new hires, blocking the influx of qualified, motivated educators to a system that badly needs them. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help these schools; without good teachers to guide students, however, it’s a wasted investment.

It’s a classic case of entrenched Big Labor, and it’s ruining a generation of young students. Thanks to sweetheart deals with pro-union lawmakers, teachers in New York state are virtually fire-proof. With the rubber rooms gone, they’re virtually discipline-proof.

But through it all, the victim remains the same: students.