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Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Partnership of Bully Power and Media Can Convict a Teacher at 3020-a

Bullies have the right of way in New York City, it seems to me after looking into and working on more than 60 3020-a cases of corporal punishment or verbal abuse.

Eileen Ghastin
The case of Eileen Ghastin comes to mind. I've written about her in a previous post (I and Attorney Jonathan Behrins are working on her Article 75 Appeal) after a student threatened Eileen in her classroom with beating her up with the cast on his arm, and he knew how to box, he told her. She was terrified, so she believed that there was only one way to stop him, and that was to say something that would make him re-consider. here is part of the record testimony:

"The teen then “went berserk,” Ghastin said. “He jumped out of his chair, rushed toward me and raised his arm,” encased in a hard cast from elbow to hand.
“I’m going to beat the s–t out of you,” Ghastin quoted him as yelling. “I’m a boxer, so I can ­really f–k you up. "I am really going to do a lot of damage."

Eileen was frozen with fear that she was really going to be hurt. And then, she said, " I thought to myself, I have to say something quickly or else I am going to die. --you know. So, I realized, you know, that he is in a very--a blind rage. If I say something strong enough to him, he will stop.
I said, "If you beat me, I will kill you." 

This statement stopped him."

However the Arbitrator, Richard Williams concluded that Eileen's words embarrassed the student and created a sense of terror in the student and all the other students in the class, and gave her 4 weeks suspension without pay. The lawyer on this case defending Ms. Ghastin was NYSUT Attorney Jennifer Hogan.

But in the record there is testimony that the Student, Student A, had read the article published in the New York Post on May 29, 2016:

My student threatened to beat me — and I’m the one in trouble

and Arbitrator Williams was convinced that reading the article on May 29 2016 was enough for him to conclude he must punish Ms. Ghastin for embarrassing the student.

Huh? Read the Williams' support for entering the POST article at the hearing (Kereen Evans-McKay was the Department attorney making the argument):

"21 MS. HOGAN: …I think
22 there's a distinction between the question of
23 how did you feel as a result of statements being
24 made to you in the classroom versus how did you
25 feel about reading about an allegation contained

in a newspaper. And so I understand your point
3 about the Chancellor's Regulations deriving from
4 the allegations, but here it appears to me that
5 the Department's trying to argue that uncharged
6 conduct, which is notoriety, can be used in
7 making a determination as to whether or not
8 there was a Chancellor's Regulation violation.

MS. HOGAN: ...Here
21 counsel is taking it a step further and asking
22 that question about how the witness felt as a
23 result of reading the newspaper article.

24 THE HEARING OFFICER: But that's a
25 consequence
THE HEARING OFFICER: That question is
6 being answered because in my mind, should I find
7 a violation of the Chancellor's Reg., the impact
8 of the incident and the natural flowing
9 consequences that the student experienced and
10 the impact on that student's future really going
11 forward and interacting with teachers, is
12 relevant in the determination.


MS. EVANS-MCKAY: Okay. So at the end
5 of the day, the Department has to prove for
6 verbal abuse which includes how the verbal abuse
7 by the teacher made the student/students feel.
8 If there is, if there was a follow up to the
9 incident, an incident, there's a continuation of
10 the incident that was now publicized that also
11 bleeds into how the student may have felt by the
12 incident, both the incident that happened inside
13 the classroom and now something that's now been
14 publicized about the incident. So I'd like to

15 be able to ask the student about his feelings
16 about what happened in the classroom and
17 obviously we can only get how this affects him
18 educationally if we get his feelings about what
19 happened and what he read. I think it,
20 everything has to be considered in its totality"


(Transcript, pp. 469-471, 2-3-17)

and then shockingly, Williams tried to get some emotional damages to penalize the Respondent, Eileen Ghastin:

"THE HEARING OFFICER: What ways have 5 you been affected?
6 WITNESS: Well I haven't been affected
7 at all physically. Honestly, I just thought it
8 was a stupid thing to still bring up. I'm not
9 holding a grudge. What was said was said, and
10 it was last year. I think it should have been
11 dropped last year. 

19 A. By the time I saw The Post, I was confused
20 on how she said the story had gone or what had
21 happened. But then just a week after that, I was
22 done. I just let it go." (transcript, pp. 472-473)

"THE HEARING OFFICER: She can--did
4 your friends saying stuff about it change your
5 mind about how it impacted you?
6 WITNESS: No. Every time they brought
7 it up, I said, "Yeah. That was me that got the
8 teacher fired." But I just leave it as that."  (transcript, p. 475)

The arbitrator agreed with the Department that the incident and the write-up in the POST must have embarrassed the Student, and gave Ms. Ghastin the penalty of 4-weeks’ suspension without pay, altering her unblemished career forever.

That Williams used the NY POST to give a penalty of 4-weeks' suspension is absurd, in my opinion. Ms. Ghastin has appealed this decision.

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
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



Bullying on the rise in NYC schools, reports jump 10% compared to 2016: survey
Ben Chapman, NY DAILY NEWS

More city students experienced bullying at their schools this year compared to last year, a Daily News analysis of data shows.

Responses by students to four bullying-related questions on the public schools’ 2017 school survey reveal that more kids are encountering the dangerous phenomenon in their schools.

This year, 81% of 433,715 kids in grades 6-12 who responded to the Education Department’s annual NYC School Survey reported that students harass, bully and intimidate their peers.

That’s a jump from the 71% of 434,693 students who filled out the surveys in 2016.

Critics of the city’s handling of school safety said the figures show bullying is on the rise and public school students are at risk.


“Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, our schools continue to get less and less safe,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of the pro-charter school lobbying group Families for Excellent Schools.


“The mayor must face facts, and act immediately to keep children safe from violence and bullying,” he added.


The city conducts its annual school survey to gather feedback from students, teachers and parents. Education Department officials published the 2017 survey results online on Aug. 8.


Students’ responses to multiple-choice questions on the survey showed increased harassment in public schools, although there were slight changes to the questions from 2016 to 2017.


Education Department spokesman Will Mantell said the city made the changes to more accurately capture schools’ quality, but argued the changes made it impossible to compare results.


“It’s simply not valid to compare multiple-choice survey questions that have different choices,” he said.


“Over the 11 years of the school survey, on questions that have remained the same, the percentage of students feeling safe in school hallways and teachers feeling that order and discipline are maintained have both increased,” Mantell noted.


In 2016, 51% of students said kid bullied each other at school “because of their race or ethnicity.”


On a similar question in 2017, 65% of students said kids bullied each other at school over “race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or citizenship/immigration status.”


Likewise, in 2016, 55% of students said kids bullied each other at school because of differences “like national origin, citizenship/immigration status, religion, disability, or weight.”


On a similar question in 2017, 73% of students said kids bullied each other at school because of differences “like disability, or weight.”


And in 2016, 46% of students said that kids at their school “harass, bully, or intimidate each other because of their gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”


That question was unchanged for 2016, when 59% of students reported gender-based bullying at their schools.