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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tollyne Dickerson Makes Playstreets Happen This Summer in the Bronx

Robert M. Morgenthau, then the Manhattan district attorney and president of the Police Athletic League, with children on a Playstreet in July 1981CreditDith Pran/The New York Times
From Betsy:

I know you all thought that the Carmen Farina-Bill de Blasio team would care about kids and the families in the Bronx but you were wrong.

One of my very favorite people on the planet, chapter leader, wholistic health advisor (mine), and a great resource for anything anyone needs at anytime (I LIKE her ALOT), Tollyne Dickerson, is involved in Playstreets, and has told me the story of what happened.

There would be no Playstreets this summer if it weren't for Tollyne. She made it happen.

I love her. The Bronx loves her.

Thanks, Tollyne !!!!

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

Heard on the Stoops: A Nostalgia for Playstreets

For more than 100 years, Playstreets have been part of New York summers. They're being phased out in favor of more curated experiences.
Stoopside in Harlem, a conversation began Monday evening about the loss of a summer institution in neighborhoods across the city.

Frances and Shiasia Harris, mother and daughter, gently debate for how long — before this year — their block, 151st Street between Broadway and Amsterdam, served as an official summer Playstreet, a kids’ kingdom, closed to traffic and open for fun.

“We had it here for over 20 years,” Shiasia said.

“More than 20 years,” Frances corrected.

“I said ‘over’ 20 years,” Shiasia rebutted. “I’ll be 27 next month. Since I was a child, I was coming out to play on Playstreet.”

As of this summer, that’s not a choice for those growing up on 151st Street or dozens of blocks around the city that also used to be transformed in July and August into Playstreets. There will be 15 this year, down from about 40 in 2016 and 150 two decades ago. Those that remain are nearly all in city parks or on the grounds of housing projects.

“I’m sorry, but I grew up in the projects — we had playgrounds right there,” Frances Harris said. “How do you have Playstreet in the projects? It should be ‘Play project.’”
An Idea With Legs
At left, play time on West 123rd Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevards in 1997. At right, Officer Russell Blair of Brooklyn's 73rd Precinct with children at the Sterling Place Playstreet in 1962.
Summer play streets go back to 1914, the brainstorm of a police commissioner who thought they would be a good way to keep young people out of trouble. Over the years, they were run by the Police Athletic League, or P.A.L., which provided counselors.

“At one time, we had over 100, all of them privately financed,” Robert M. Morgenthau, the former Manhattan district attorney who has been a member of the P.A.L. board for more than 50 years and now, a few weeks short of his 98th birthday, serves as its chairman. “During the Lindsay administration, someone called me and said, ‘The city wants to take them over and pay for them.’”

Last year, the P.A.L. received $680,000 from the city to run Playstreets. This year, the amount is $355,000. “More resources in a smaller number of Playstreets,” Frederick J. Watts, the league’s executive director, said. “The funder — the city — wanted to see that we had more active, engaged programs, rather than have a broader, more passive program.”

A Curated Approach to Play
Leonard Sutton of Playstreets taught children how to play miniature golf on 122nd Street in Harlem in July 1966. 
Some Playstreets teemed with children; others were scarcely used. City officials say they are not spending less on recreation but are shifting it to more popular programs like Kids in Motion, which has the announced aim of introducing children to “physical activity in a fun, noncompetitive environment.” In a briefing memo, the city said that Kids in Motion features “trained recreation and sports instructors,” as opposed to Playstreets counselors; the Kids in Motion programs are held at playgrounds with courts and jungle gyms, unlike Playstreets, most of which were on “hot blacktop” with equipment limited to whatever could be stored nearby. Another aim is to expand offerings to older teenagers. The P.A.L. will also run 21 camps with city money.

In curtailing the Playstreets, officials said they had mapped alternatives, citing, for instance, a playground near 151st Street.

Reality has a way of interfering with the best-mapped intentions. “That playground is under construction,” Brandon Morgan, a mason who lives on 151st Street, said.

A Ritual That Beat Cartoons
From left, Alex Didomenico, Sklah Hemphill and London Huggins drew at the Polo Grounds 
“You wake up in the morning, get dressed, and come downstairs instead of sitting on the couch watching cartoons,” Shiasia Harris said, recalling her years on the 151st Street Playstreet. “You learn how to ride a bike, how to roller skate, because there’s free space.”

She reeled off classic street games: “Hot potato. Steal the bacon. Hopscotch. And Double Dutch — we had Double Dutch tournaments against other blocks that had P.A.L.”

Mr. Morgan added a few others. “Playing basketball, hockey and three big tables with mathematical games, reading comprehension, things like that, for building their minds,” he said.

The block between Broadway and Amsterdam on 151st Street is shoulder to shoulder with apartment houses filled by young families. “Not too many people around here go away for vacation,” Frances Harris said.

Said Mr. Morgan: “Nothing like your own block.”

A Reconsideration?
Daniel Lalin, 13, and Andrew Stapleton, 11, took a break on Tuesday to watch their friends play a basketball game at the Melrose Playground in the Bronx

P.A.L. officials helped pick the 15 sites that will have Playstreets this summer. Mr. Watts said it was not easy, and that 151st Street in Harlem, 196th Street in the Bronx, and 61st Street in Brooklyn were especially “hurting” from the loss of their Playstreets.

Asked about the Playstreet changes, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “City Hall was not made aware of these closures and we can understand why some are upset.” The decision, she said, is under review.

Tollyne Dickerson, News12, Fordham
Fordham Playstreet reopens to children for summer
News 12, July 10, 2017
Hundreds of children in Fordham were able to return to their local Playstreet this summer.
The Playstreet at 196th Street and Briggs Avenue was thought to be closed due to a lack of funding, but a nonprofit organization stepped in to raise the money. The Fordham Housing Corporation donated the $28,000 needed to open the site and buy supplies for the summer. 
Alumni of the program and parents say they are relieved to see the Playstreet back open.
The Police Athletic League's Playstreets program started in 1914 to provide children with a safe place to play within their communities.
The 196th Street Playstreet will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Aug. 17.
Tollyne speaking to News12, June 27, 2017

Posted: Jun 27, 2017 7:39 PM ED

The Police Athletic League's Playstreets program is set to close after more than 20 years of serving children in Bedford Park.
The popular summer program hosts more than 100 children, but its director says it will be gone this year "due to a reduction in departmental funding."
Some Playstreets are being closed and replaced by other summer programs.
PAL Playstreets was started in 1914 to provide children with a safe place to learn, play and interact with their communities.

The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice told News 12 in a statement, "This year, we are making some strategic improvements to serve more people with a richer array of dedicated services for the same amount of money."

From Betsy:
*Are Carmen and Bill listening to the perspective of New Yorkers such as the Chelsea residents in the article below rather than teachers and parents in the Bronx?? 

Just askin':

Chelsea Block Plagued by Student Fights No Place for 'Play Street': Locals
Students in front of Bayard Rustin HS

CHELSEA — A plan to turn a residential Chelsea block into a “play street” for middle schoolers to take P.E. classes would exacerbate problems on a stretch where students regularly get into fights, throw trash on the ground and "frighten" neighbors, locals say. 
The Bayard Rustin Educational Complex wants to close West 18th Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, off to traffic during school hours and use the stretch for supervised physical education classes and possibly recess, the city Department of Education’s head of campus operations, Nick Fiore, told Community Board 4’s Transportation Planning Committee on Wednesday.
But neighbors at the meeting said they feared emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to access the street — which is home to the LGBT Callen-Lorde Community Health Center — and worried that the plan would do nothing to mitigate ongoing problems on the block, where fights between students are a common occurrence, several residents said.
“I’ve witnessed very big fights,” one attendee said. “I couldn’t even leave my apartment — I had to wait until the cops came to break it up.”
Crowds of students block the street in the afternoon, pay no heed to pedestrians trying to pass and throw trash onto the street, a resident of West 18th Street said.
“These are not children — these are young adults. They are taller than I am. I’m frightened by them,” he said.
“They’re bratty young adults, not kids,” another resident added. “And if this goes through, there needs to be security guards out there."
Larissa Gonzalez, a resident of West 19th Street, said students have thrown everything from cue balls and food refuse to “sexual and really other gross” items through the school windows and onto her roof.
“I don’t think it will be safe,” she said of the play street proposal. “The violence is quite dangerous on the street.”
Several rarely used playgrounds and open spaces near the school could be used for P.E. classes instead, residents said.
Moreover, middle school students “do not need a play street,” said Frank Lowe, vice president of the 300 West 18th/19th Street Block Association.
While Fiore said he couldn’t dispute the neighbors’ anecdotes — having “seen them [himself]” — he argued that having a play street would provide the school a reason to have teachers, aides and safety agents out on the street.
The seven-school building at 351 W. 18th St. houses around 2,200 students — up from around 1,600 or 1,700 students four years ago — and a mandatory recess for middle-schoolers often “monopolizes” its two gymnasiums, Fiore said.
Under the play street proposal, the street would be car-free between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, from September to the end of June, he explained.
“If we have a class in the street… we are paying more attention to those students and actively managing those students, as opposed to when they are simply out there,” Fiore said. “The one thing I would not dispute is, yes, P.E. is noisy.”
A security guard would likely be posted at the end of the play street to allow access to emergency vehicles, he noted.
Following the public discussion, committee members asked Fiore to withdraw his application for the time being to explore possible alternatives to the play street, address neighbors’ concerns and nail down a plan to deal with emergency vehicles.
“Once we have those things in place, we should be able to discuss what you want to do next,” committee co-chair Christine Berthet said, noting that the board “usually likes play streets.”
Committee member Dale Corvino, meanwhile, said he was “very discouraged by the fact that there is a community of residents and a community of students who seem to be completely at odds with each other.”
“I would like to implore the residents and the school to step up and change that dynamic,” he said. “It’s not the way we should run our cities, or… [the way] we should look at our students.”

The NYC Teaching Collaborative: a Quick Way to Become a Full-Time Teacher

Want to be a teacher real bad, but can't spend years on it?

If you have never been certified to teach, then you can apply to the NYC Teaching Collaborative and be an instant teacher.

These newbies can fill all those positions that may be open in October, 2017 so that the principals don't have to hire ATRs.

This quick teaching experience idea is not new, I've written about it in 2014 and 2012:

This ad says "Starts in September 2018". Must be the higher starting salary, up from $49,000.

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


Full Time


Details: • Starting salary of at least $56,711 and full benefits following the residency experience (starting September 2018)




Every student in New York City deserves an excellent teacher. The NYC Teaching Collaborative is an alternative certification program designed to provide training and support to aspiring teachers who dedicate themselves to raising student achievement and effecting change in New York City's highest-need schools.

The Collaborative Experience
The NYC Teaching Collaborative affords aspiring teachers the opportunity to apprentice in a New York City public school for eight months prior to becoming a full-time teacher. During this unique, practical preparation, participants grow into effective teachers through hands-on experiences in a public school classroom and targeted, ongoing coaching from skilled Collaborative Coaches and program staff. In the summer, participants begin Master's degree coursework to complement their second residency experience and lay the groundwork for a successful teaching career.

Following the residency experience, program participants begin teaching full-time in a New York City school with continued feedback and support. Within 2-3 years, participants earn their Master’s degree and apply for initial NYS teaching certification to continue their career as New York City teachers. 

Why Join the NYC Teaching Collaborative?
Build the foundation of your teaching career through a supportive, practice-based training experience. NYC Teaching Collaborative benefits include:
  • Stipend during residency experience
  • Starting salary of at least $56,711 and full benefits following the residency experience (starting September 2018)
  • Partially subsidized Master’s degree in education
  • Ongoing coaching and feedback
  • Opportunities to support future Collaborative cohorts
Who We Are Looking For
We represent a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds. Successful collaborative participants possess:
  • Commitment to raising the academic achievement of students in low-income communities
  • Desire to join a community of educators at a high-need school
  • Ability to respond well to coaching and feedback
  • Success and leadership in past endeavors
  • Perseverance in the face of challenges
  • Ability to think critically and analytically
  • Desire to grow professionally and seek new opportunities to learn
  • Integrity and clarity in all interactions
  • Passion for working with the youth of New York City
To be eligible, candidates must not have been previously certified to teach and cannot have completed more education coursework than a minor’s degree.
Apply by our first priority deadline of Tuesday, August 8:



None specified


No requirement

Job Opportunity as Deputy Director of the Administrative Trials Unit, NYC DOE 3020-a Hearings

My opinion of the employment opportunity for Administrative Trials Unit Deputy Director:

If you are a lawyer and have issues with ethics, meaning that you do not think ethical conduct should get in the way of terminating tenured Department employees who, you have heard, lie, cheat, steal, have sex with minor children in their workplaces, and alter records as well as take money that isn't theirs, and you want to be head of a team of lawyers who violate the rule of law and rules of evidence to fire these wrong-doers, then the current job opportunity is for you!

The position at the NYC DOE assures you immunity for any mishandling of any case of misconduct where the tenured employee is not terminated, which is always somebody's fault at the ATU  or the error of the arbitrator who, of course you can fire at the end of the school year when the arbitrators' contracts are up for renewal. I'm sure that if you keep in mind that "all Respondents accused of misconduct are guilty when charged" is the prevailing policy, that you can always schedule the miscreant for a probable cause hearing where the rights to cross-examine by the Respondent's representative of any DOE witness is prohibited, and that you must make sure that your legal team spends as much time as possible altering facts and making scripts for witnesses to study and learn before they testify, you will be fine.

Go to the link and apply. Good luck. Oh - you may end up on this blog, as well!!!

This is my opinion.

See my  post about what I think about DOE Attorney Michael Francis
Michael Francis

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

Tracking Code
Job Description

Position Summary: The Deputy Director – Administrative Trials Unit serves as the representative of the Chancellor performing sophisticated legal work in disciplinary proceedings and provides support to the Deputy Counsel. The Deputy Director will be accountable for the success and performance of team members in assigned practice areas in meeting performance goals and identified objectives; will be designated as the Administrative Trials Unit Assistant Deputy Counsel; and will perform high-level legal work. Performs related work.

Reports to: Deputy Counsel, Administrative Trials Unit

Direct Reports: Administrative Trials Unit Attorneys and administrative support staff.

Key Relationships: Represents the Department of Education (DOE) in 3020-A proceedings and hearings pursuant to Section 75. Provides legal counsel and training to Community Superintendents and Principals on disciplinary procedures. Confers with subject matter experts, technical specialists, and other attorneys, including counsel for litigants. Acts as a liaison to executives within the DOE and to other City agencies.


Case Management

·        Manages the case load of the Administrative Trials Unit by assigning cases to staff attorneys and monitoring the conduct of Technical Assistance Conferences (TAC), review of charging instruments and potential stipulations of settlements.
·        Reviews Office of Personnel Investigation (OPI) arrest cases to determine if there is appropriate substantiation and evidence for charges.
·        Manages monthly case reviews with office attorneys. Assumes direct responsibility for all phases of complex high profile legal cases. This includes preparing for and/or litigating complex cases involving large amounts of money, significant precedents, novel and complicated determinations of law and fact, or cases having significant legal, policy or financial implications for the DOE.
·        Determines the advisability of presenting witnesses, admissibility of types of evidence and matters of legal strategy.
·        Prepares and argues difficult cases and appeals in administrative tribunals and in the courts.
·        Reviews, revises and approves agreements prepared by other attorneys.
·        Coordinates and assists with professional development for Community Superintendents and Principals concerning the 3020-A disciplinary charges process.

Trial Strategy

·        Handles legal issues and cases including recommendations concerning the soundness of charges, preparing specification of charges, coordinating the gathering of evidence, and briefing witnesses.
·        Develops plans and objectives for the conduct of various Administrative Trials Unit functions; devises methods and procedures for the implementation of approved policies.
·        Recommends settlements pursuant to DOE administrative tribunals.
·        Leads trial issues discussions and determination of appropriate charges.
·        Administers trial calendar in conjunction with the Chief Research Attorney.
·        Manages intra-office trial seminars and Center for Law and Education (CLE) training for staff attorneys.
·        Coordinates and assists with professional development for superintendents and principals concerning the 3020-A disciplinary charges process.
·        Manages legal summary informational database for recurring case issues which will be utilized by staff attorneys to complete closing briefs and arguments.

Legal Research

·        Conducts legal investigations, holds informal hearings, and examines prospective witnesses.
·        Conducts research and prepares legal briefs and memoranda on labor and employment law issues.
·        Reviews complex, highly technical laws, rules, and regulations.
·        Serves as the chief research contact on cases and issues “first impressions,” particularly on contract interpretation as it relates to 3020-A issues.
·        Manages and maintains the "Case Decision Bank" used by staff attorneys when completing answers to motions, closing arguments, and related documentation.
·        Plays a lead role in coordinating and/or providing professional development for Community Superintendents and Principals concerning the 3020-A disciplinary charges process.
·        Manages the distribution of decisions of interest and advises staff on any changes of law and controlling authority.

Qualification Requirements:


Admission to the New York State Bar; and four (4) years of recent full-time satisfactory, relevant legal experience subsequent to admission to any bar, eighteen months of which must have been in the supervision of other attorneys, in an administrative, managerial or executive capacity, or performing highly complex and significant legal work.

NOTE: Selected candidates must remain members of the New York State Bar in good standing for the duration of their employment.

Applicants who have a client with a legal or business matter pending against, before or with the DOE must obtain such client’s consent to apply for employment with the DOE.  If invited to interview for this position, such applicants are required to disclose the nature of such matters at the interview.  


·        Ability to coordinate and supervise complex legal and labor relations activities.
·        Overall knowledge of the school system and ability to advise and render legal opinions on educational policies and practices.
·        Ability to initiate effective litigation strategies.
·        Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
·        Ability to interact effectively with others.
·        Highly organized and excellent problem-solving skills.

Salary: $102,788+

Please include a resume and cover letter with your application. 
Applications will be accepted until position is filled.
NOTE: The filling of all positions is subject to budget availability and/or grant funding. 

It is the policy of the Department of Education of the City of New York to provide educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, age, marital status, partnership status, disability, sexual orientation, gender (sex), military status, prior record of arrest or conviction (except as permitted by law), predisposing genetic characteristics, or status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking, and to maintain an environment free of harassment on any of the above-noted grounds, including sexual harassment or retaliation.  Inquiries regarding compliance with this equal opportunity policy may be directed to: Office of Equal Opportunity, 65 Court Street, Room 1102, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or visit the OEO website at
Job Location
NEW YORK, New York, United States
Position Type
New Posting

Office of the General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel's investigative office is comprised of the following units: 
§  The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) investigates allegations of improper and unlawful behavior, including corporal punishment and verbal abuse against students, to help ensure a safe and secure learning environment for New York City’s students, staff members, and parents. All other allegations of misconduct should be reported to the Special Commissioner of Investigation at (212) 510-1500.
§  The Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) investigates allegations of discrimination or harassment. In addition to investigating internal agency complaints, OEO advises schools on matters relating to equal employment opportunity, and provides training on acceptable workplace practices under equal opportunity employment law.

The Office of the General Counsel's disciplinary office is comprised of the following units:
§  The Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) is responsible for the prosecution of tenured teacher disciplinary cases, trainings and advice on how to discipline a tenured employee or permanent civil servant, and also to review documentation as it relates to the discipline process.

§  The Teacher Performance Unit (TPU) is a new unit comprised of experienced attorneys who will litigate incompetence cases against ineffective tenured pedagogues.

Administrative Trials Unit

The Administrative Trials Unit is responsible for the prosecution of disciplinary cases.
ATU is available for trainings and advice on how to discipline a tenured employee or permanent civil servant and also to review documentation as it relates to the discipline process. If appropriate, ATU may draft charges under Education Law, Section 3020-a or Section 75 of the Civil Service Law against the subject employee. This process entails a joint effort by the principal and/or supervisor along with the ATU attorney to litigate a case against the employee either for the purposes of progressive discipline or to seek the employee's termination. Should you seek charges, you must schedule a Technical Assistance Conference (TAC) with ATU for a complete review of the employee's personnel file and any related discussions.
From Betsy Combier:
This information is not correct. Laura Brantley is no longer the Director of the ATU, Attorney Karen Antoine is currently in that position (

According to The Green Book online, this is Laura Brantley's new number:
Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity Management  –  Laura Brantley 
(718) 935-2427

Teacher Performance Unit

The Teacher Performance Unit (“TPU”) is a new unit comprised of experienced attorneys who will litigate incompetence cases against ineffective tenured pedagogues. TPU’s goal is to help improve teacher quality in schools by bringing and litigating these cases in a thorough, expeditious and effective manner.
In partnership with the consultants of the Labor Support Unit (“LSU”), TPU will offer high quality and responsive support to principals, and other school officials in connection with cases involving previously identified tenured teachers in need of support and remediation. This support will include, among other things, providing these ineffective tenured teachers with quality professional development.
Additionally, TPU in consultation with the principal will make a determination, on a case by case basis whether to commence the 3020-a process. Thereafter, TPU and LSU will continue to provide counsel to the principal and other school officials in connection with the preparation and litigation of 3020-a disciplinary charges.