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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Prohibit The Department of Education Lawyers From Using The Danielson Rubric For Observation Reports and 3020-a Arbitration

ok, enough is enough. We have to get our New York State legislature to put a stop to the use of the Danielson rubric to charge teachers with criminal conduct if, during a 15-minute observation, there isn't a perfect teaching performance and if all the little - or big - student angels are not sitting in their seats glued to the lesson materials, learning everything.

Anyone who has ever read my blog, this one, or posts to my website, know that I firmly believe there is something very wrong with the way teachers are observed, rated, and charged with 3020-a for incompetency (as well as misconduct, but that is another article).

Using the 15-minute informal observation to create a paper trail of incompetent teaching which are solely hearsay and/or opinions, is, in my opinion criminal and opens the DOE to lawsuits. The 15-minute observation is, as a helpful tool, ok, but DONT ALLOW A RATING!!!!!

The strange phenomenon I have followed all these years is the creation of so-called 'factual evidence' from an observation report written by a principal with malice towards the teacher (who is simply too pretty, too good at what they do, too outspoken, knows too much, too expensive, etc. to keep on the school budget) and "sees" incompetency in the 15-minute observation allowed in the Danielson Rubric. I've heard that even Charlotte Danielson herself is pretty upset with the use of the rubric in the manner that the DOE is using it:

Danielson Framework criticized by Charlotte Danielson

Charlotte Danielson
The Department policy is, a teacher must show the gamut of each section perfectly, 100% of the time, no exceptions, in 15 minutes. Absurd.

Who are they kidding?

The 2016 "Who Are You Kidding Award" Goes to Carmen Farina (for the Second time) and Mayor Bill de Blasio

We need to stop the rating of teachers after a 15-minute flyby. A teacher should be observed, and evaluated. But must be done according to fair rules and honorable intentions. I suggested in 2010 that the UFT set up a process of using video twice a year, in September/October and May/June to see exactly what a teacher's skill set is, in order to set up a tailored plan to improve the areas least efficient. We really do not need to criminalize a spanish teacher who does write lesson plans but cannot write in English when given a full year as a science teacher. Do we?

Principals say that if they saw it, it is a fact. And, as I've said and written here before, see below, when an Arbitrator believes that what the principal saw is the fact of the case, that's the problem with these hearings.

Kings County Supreme Court and the Second Department Appellate Division say, an observation has no facts and is simply an opinion. My very good friend Harvey Elentuck's case still controls this "fact": observations are opinions and have no data or statistics:

See Elentuck v Green, Supreme Court, Second Appellate Division, 202 A.D.2d 425; 608 N.Y.S.2d 701; 1994 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1956 (1994))

Thus no one may obtain observation reports under the Freedom of information Act (FOIA) nor are observations business records. So, DOE Attorneys, stop submitting these reports at 3020-a as facts, or as business records when you dont bring in the person who wrote it and want someone else to testify about the content. Yucky, very yucky.

Why Observation Reports Should Not Be Used To Terminate a Tenured Employee by Betsy Combier

The NYC Department of Education Teacher Observation Scam 

Observations are Now Punitive, Replacing Rational Conclusions of Fact


Principals and Student Suspensions

Does the NYC Department of Education really believe that a principal will ask for any suspension, any time?

I have a bridge to sell you.

Principals work in constant fear that they will be cited for having a violent set of students and that they will be placed onto the VADIR list (Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting list). The solution is to not suspend any student, anytime, or place disruptive kids into a SAVE Room for a couple of days. At Rushell White's out of control school JHS 226, I heard that the SAVE room has consistently about 40-70 students in it at one time.

Staff need to be vigilant because students know that they are the powers behind the throne. They aren't going anywhere. You are.

See my post about Eileen Ghastin, where the student who was going to beat her up was given, evidently, a 5-day in house principal's suspension for his threats:

Stellar, Dedicated Teacher Eileen Ghastin Fights the Arbitrator's Decision To Suspend Her For Four Weeks After Almost Being Beaten Up in Her Class

and then there is art teacher D.S. at Bushwick Community High School, who was told by a student
"I have a bullet with your name on it" and he knew that the school administration was not going to do anything, so he called the police at the 83rd precinct and filed a complaint. Then the Department charged him with 3020-a charges, citing his endangering the student's safety and welfare.

Llermi Gonzalez is the principal at Bushwick, and a more meek do-nothing you will never meet.

I worked on D.S.'s 3020-a, and the Attorney working with me served the Sargeant at the 83rd precinct a subpoena to come in to testify. But Sargeant Ramattur would not come in. I was told he was "on a vacation" or "unavailable".

Something is wrong with this picture.

My suggestion is for any teacher: keep secretly recording everything that happens during the school day, transfer the recordings at night to your computer at home, keep a file.

New York State is a one-party state.

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

How often does New York City tell its principals they can’t suspend a student?

Before 2015, principals only had to seek approval from the city for the most serious suspensions. But starting in April of that year, the city added an oversight mechanism: Requiring principals to get permission from the education department before suspending students in grades K-3, or a student in any grade for insubordination.

Some school leaders and union officials complained, saying the policy makes it harder to maintain order.

But how often does the city overrule a principal’s judgment?

In all, the education department rejected about 22 percent of suspension requests under those categories during the 2015-16 school year, the first full year under the new code. Officials rejected 453 of the 2,008 requests to suspend students for insubordination, or 23 percent. And they rejected about 20 percent of the 1,039 attempts to suspend students in grades K-3, or 31 percent if you include the more serious suspensions that already required approval.

“It is promising to see that there are rejections and that suspensions are not rubber-stamped by the Department of Education,” said Dawn Yuster, the school justice project director at Advocates for Children. “They’re using this as a way of showing schools they’re serious about the policy changes.”

The requirement that principals earn approval for certain suspensions came as part of a series of edits to the discipline code — championed by Mayor Bill de Blasio — designed to discourage their use and move schools toward less punitive approaches.

The number of total rejections (659) is tiny compared to the total number of principal suspensions issued last year (27,122). (Principals have long been required to clear more serious superintendent suspensions with the department; last year, schools issued 10,525 of them and were rejected 2,171 times.)

Still, in concert with the city’s shift away from suspensions more generally, the decision to require an extra layer of approval in certain cases may be having an effect. Overall, suspensions have fallen by roughly 30 percent under de Blasio’s watch, continuing a downward trend that began under his predecessor.

“There’s kind of an unwritten rule where schools know these suspensions aren’t going to be approved, so schools don’t put a whole lot of them through,” said Damon McCord, co-principal at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Queens.

Officials have taken particular aim at suspensions for insubordination, one of the offenses that now requires approval. Advocates charge that its inclusion in the discipline code contributes to the disproportionate removal of students of color and those with disabilities from their classrooms — and its use has plummeted 75 percent over the past two school years. The city has also pledged to virtually eliminate suspensions for the city’s youngest students (that policy is expected to take effect later this month).

But the dramatic drop in suspensions has earned mixed reviews from some educators who say there has been a parallel dip in discipline. Ernest Logan, head of the city’s principals union, argues school leaders should be trusted with suspension decisions, as long as they’re following the discipline code.

“When the chancellor selects a principal, then you should give that principal the authority to run their schools,” Logan said in response to the rejection numbers. “Why do you have a principal there if you don’t accept their judgment?”

Lois Herrera, CEO of the education department’s Office of Safety and Youth Development, which oversees the suspension approval process, said the extra layer of oversight ensures students are only suspended if they are actually interfering with their peers’ educations. “We saw it as an opportunity to add that extra quality control and make sure if we had to suspend, it was appropriately used.”

Suspensions are more likely to approved if the misbehavior constitutes a pattern, interferes with instruction, or other alternatives have been exhausted, Herrera said, noting that forthcoming updates to the discipline code will “strengthen” the requirement that schools try other options first.

“If we say no [to a principal], it doesn’t mean we’re turning a blind eye to misbehavior,” Herrera said, because her office often helps schools find alternative approaches. Asked if principals could simply suspend students for similar infractions that don’t require approval, she said she there was no evidence of that in the data.

McCord, the Queens principal, said the education department rejected his attempt to suspend a student who repeatedly tried to skip afternoon classes. “We probably didn’t do a good enough job articulating the prior interventions we’d already done,” he said.

Still, he supports the city’s review policy.

“We just found other ways to address [misbehavior],” he noted. “If you’re working that hard to suspend a kid, you probably need to rethink your approach.”

Stellar, Dedicated Teacher Eileen Ghastin Fights the Arbitrator's Decision To Suspend Her For Four Weeks After Almost Being Beaten Up in Her Class