Paterson Schools Ready to Abolish ‘Rubber Room’ For Teachers Under Investigation
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press, Aug. 3, 2018
PATERSON — The city school district is abolishing its infamous "rubber room" — the place at Board of Education headquarters where teachers and principals facing allegations of wrongdoing were assigned until their cases are resolved.
Going forward, the district plans to put educators accused of any type of misconduct on paid administrative leave, said Assistant Superintendent Luis Rojas. That approach would let the accused stay at home on workdays rather than report to district headquarters, where they would sit around and do nothing, officials said.
Normally, no more than five district employees have been assigned to the rubber room at any one time, Rojas said.
“It’s a place where people go to get paid for not doing a job, so I’m happy they're abolishing it,” said Rosie Grant, head of the Paterson Education Fund advocacy group.
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“I believe this will speed investigations along,” Giglio said of the abolishment of the rubber room. She said the district would not want to give accused employees what would look like paid vacations.
The rubber room practice has been involved in several lawsuits filed by district employees over the years. Principal Paula Santana sued the district more than five years ago complaining that her rubber room assignment came with “no duties or functions.”
Santana, who had cancer, died before that case was resolved.
Former teacher Noreen Sweeney claimed in a lawsuit she filed in 2016 that she was assigned to the rubber room for almost two years.
John McEntee Jr., head of the union that represents Paterson teachers, did not respond to a message seeking his comments for this story.
Rojas said the practice of assigning educators to the rubber room had come “with a stigma that we are trying to avoid, especially when an employee is exonerated from the allegation.”
The Paterson school board took a preliminary vote on the policy Wednesday night. The final vote is scheduled for Aug. 29.