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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Principal Salema Dawson Marbury Wins The 2018 "Just 'Cause I Don't Like You" Award

PS 329 Principal Salema Marbury in front of her favorite mural
3020-a hearings are compulsory arbitration supposedly set up to fairly judge Educators' incompetency or misconduct out of a courtroom after probable cause has been determined by the school board in an Executive Session. After the charges are served on the alleged miscreant, then an Arbitrator is appointed to find "Just Cause" for any penalty. The arbitrator hears both sides and decide who is telling the truth, or is credible. Thus, these "teacher trials" do not have Judges, but arbitrators, who are mostly attorneys. Some are not lawyers at all. Many but certainly not all arbitrators can be swayed into believing what the principal says, simply because the Just Cause Standard could be made into "Just 'Cause" I don't like you.

The Winner of the "Just 'Cause I Don't Like You Award" for 2018 is Salema Dawson Marbury, Principal of PS 329, the Surfside School at 2929 West 30th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11224.

Salema Dawson Marbury
The 3020-a hearings in NYC can be driven by whether or not a principal likes or dislikes the employee, and this is where the challenges to smooth sailing through the hearing comes in. It is a rocky road, but entirely winnable if you get into the often ugly backstory.

This post deals with the strange procedure known as "3020-a arbitration" in New York City and not New York State. New York City 3020-a arbitration denies many rights to employees charged with either incompetency or misconduct, or both. In New York City the United Federation of Teachers and the NYC Department of Education set up a process for judging members that goes outside of the law governing these teacher trials. In NYC, both the UFT and the DOE waived all UFT members' rights to an Executive Session and a vote on probable cause before being charged (Education Law 3020-a(2)(a)). This right to an Executive Session of the NYC School Board, the Panel For Educational Policy (PEP) was waived without any approval of the charged Respondent. Secretly.

Salema Marbury is the total package: long fingernails, false eyelashes that just never seem to be glued correctly, expensive-looking earrings, fur coats, lipstick totally within the lines, complaints that she uses her power as a principal to target people she doesn't like or for no reason that can be validated, and so on.

I had the good luck to sit with her across the 3020-a arbitration table several years ago. I wrote about this case:

Lawrence Scott III, Agent of the NYC DOE Office of Special Investigations (OSI), Sexually Assaults Teacher Natalya Sokolson-Gordon at Her School, PS. 329 in Coney Island, Brooklyn

January 2, 2014

Whenever I work on a 3020-a case, I always do my own research into the backstory. I ask certain questions, such as:
"why did the principal target the tenured employee?";
"who else, other than the charged employee, received the same or similar treatment?";
"What, if any, actions did you, the targeted employee see the principal do which looked to you like misconduct, if anything?"
"What did other people tell you about the principal?"

I often write about how we do 3020-a cases differently than all other people, whether they are NYSUT or private, because we believe that there must be an important reason for the teacher/Assistant Principal to be charged, other than the targeted employee's own actions. Usually we are right.
Natalya Sokolson
In Natalya Sokolson's case, I don't believe I had ever had so many people tell me that the principal of their school was as vindictive, mean, unfair, ludicrous, and discriminatory as Salema Dawson Marbury seems to be. I firmly believe that not a single word that Salema says about a teacher in her school at a 3020-a should be believed.

I spoke with a child who told me that Ms. Marbury and Ms. Lafontant took her/him and many of her/his classmates out of class and made them write lies about their teacher. Many of them were frightened by Principal Marbury and AP Lafontant who threatened them and told them they had to write what they were told. The children said that they told the investigator what Ms. Marbury and Ms.Lafontant were doing.

Salema herself started having relations (in the  school) with Parent Coordinator Don Marbury while he was still married (to someone else), and police were called by the wife. Don eventually got divorced and married Salema, so he had to transfer from the  school, but his famous basketball player brother gave T-shirts to Salema anyway, to sell in the school (no accountability for the money coming in).

Most alarming was the information I received from countless sources telling me that the minute Salema thought you were no longer her friend, your career and safety were over.

Recently, the online letter from a teacher posted below is just the latest example of Salema Marbury's vengeance. Chancellor Carranza, are you listening?

Just askin'

Betsy Combier
 from BuzzFeed September 7, 2018
Dear Mrs Marbury,
Earlier this morning you told me I wasn’t a good teacher. Your words were arrows and you were shooting wildly without pause. Words like “tough population” and “ data collection” and other buzz words you rehearsed poured from your lips and rang with persistence. After being told that perhaps the job is not for me, along with the recommendation that I reconsider teaching altogether, I left the office feeling inferior.
Maybe Mrs Marbury was right. Shooting me with information on the toughness of the job hit the target. Bulls eye, I could’ve responded. Congrats, Mrs. Marbury, you called me out on it. I’m not a good teacher and simply can’t do what nyc heroes do 180 days a year.
But when I left her office, a recurring thought came into mind. Mrs. Marbury spends 95 percent of her day inside her brightly lit office. Her brown swivel chair practically has a slightly round permanent imprint. The pictures hanging on her walls have smiling children that awkwardly stand alongside Mrs. Marbury. In nearly every single digitally printed photo, Mrs Marbury has her hand placed atop their shoulder, beaming at the camera. But when the pose is finished, so is her smile, and posture, and had she known the child’s name, that would be finished too.
This made me realize that she can’t be right. Her knowledge would need to be based on her direct observation of me as an educator. Furthermore, her idea of whether or not I can effectively handle a classroom would need to come from listening to how well my students loved reading non fiction books. Her psychic knowledge of my teaching strategy would need to be based on knowing that my students watched my power point slides and listened to fictional stories that I authored— all of which taught them that solving a math problem and reading a fiction story with character conflict can be fun and worth investigating.
I wonder if she knows that before turning on my smart board and giving out assignments, I gave students a microphone and stage. No, there wasn’t literally a mic, and no, their stage was merely an alphabetical rug in the room. But that’s where communication, team building, and most importantly, a willingness to listen took place. When given a ball, students would have two minutes to air out their thoughts. Being upset was ok. Being happy was ok—so was being neutral and simply preferring to be withdrawn for a bit.
Students would learn that the entire class, including teachers and paraprofessionals, want to listen to them. They want to listen to their greeting and whether or not they are happy or upset, they want to actually know why. An environment of empathy and understanding and a willingness to be present was fostered through our morning meeting.
I wonder if Mrs. Marbury, the principal of the school, who prides herself on being the director of P.S 329 knows what it is like to actually know the students she is servicing. What is it like to leave the office, push the swivel chair aside, and admire an all about me biography created by a student? I don’t think Mrs Marbury would know that. And truthfully, I do not think Mrs Marbury would know whether or not I am awful, decent, or a great educator either.
Mrs Marbury knows the game of chess. She moves the pawns with speed and precision, willing to sacrifice most, if it means the large pieces survive. In the words of The Wire, “D” told Bodie that pawns get capped quick—to which Bodie responded: “ not unless they some smart-ass pawns.
Although we teachers, service providers, and paraprofessionals are mere pawns compared to the administration, I hope that we can recognize the effectiveness of our work, shedding light on our effort and success as role models and mentors for children to learn from. Maybe when we raise awareness and continue to strive, not willing to succumb to feelings of inadequacy planted by administration, we can shine and relish on the knowledge that we ARE good teachers. Regardless what some principal tells me, I can calmly say that I am one of many daily superheroes.