In 2010, the eight warehouses that had the nickname "rubber rooms" were closed due to news reports of hundreds of education personnel sitting in remote places getting paid their full salary to do nothing. When I started working at the UFT in 2007, I simultaneously started talking and writing about the rubber rooms in order for the plight of the enclosed tenured teachers to become visible to the paying public.
I found everything about the NYC rubber rooms to be fascinating. Each location was unique because of the number and character of the people placed there while they waited for their hearing, a 3020-a arbitration mandated by Education Law and their tenured status. Tenured educators cannot be fired for any reason without a due process hearing on the allegations of incompetency or misconduct. All employees in these rooms stayed at the location for the regular school day with 30-45 minutes for lunch. These times were monitored by the principal placed in each room. I know one teacher in a rubber room in the Bronx who studied for the LSAT while sitting in her reassignment, and now is a practicing attorney. To pass the time, classes in everything from cooking to the law were given every day, depending on the license or interest of the people in each location.
An important fact is that people in the rubber rooms were organizing. Demands were made by the displaced employees, starting in 2008, to form chapters for “rubber roomers”, and to elect unofficial chapter leaders in each location. Neither the Department nor the UFT wanted to legitimize the rubber rooms in this way.
Then there is the shocking case of Alan Herz. he was charged with two so-called "inappropriate" comments to his students, neither of which, in my opinion, warranted anything more than maybe a slap on the wrist. However, some DOE employee somewhere wanted Alan fired, and he was served 3020-a charges, thus highlighting what I believe is the main problem with the entire disciplinary procedure: the charging, pre-3020-a hearing process. His Attorney informed the arbitrator that the school investigator did not file his report until two years after a student accused the teacher of 'insulting' her. This is a blatant violation of procedure, which requires that any report written by an investigator must be completed within six to 12 months. The arbitrator did the correct thing, as all arbitrators should, and dismissed the case at the pre-hearing, citing the procedural error. Within 10 days the NYC DOE sued the arbitrator in the NY State Supreme Court for dismissing the case so quickly. The Judge dismissed the City’s lawsuit.
I think you can see my point, which is that all decisions made before a 3020-a case begins are random and arbitrary. The NYC DOE honors no rules, regulations, or law when an employee does something that a 'higher up' is embarrassed by, or doesn't like for any reason. The procedures for disciplinary action against tenured employees beg for accountability and mediation of the proposed charges before an arbitrator is appointed and paid to hear the case to decide the penalty. Under these conditions, false charges are justified and unlawfully validated. All an arbitrator has to do is find the DOE witnesses 'credible' and the witnesses and charged employee, or "Respondent", 'not credible'. The penalty of termination is then the 'only' outcome.
The political ‘solution’ was, and still is, to spread out the accused or allegedly guilty employees here and there -- in school offices, basements, storage or copy rooms -- anywhere hidden from view. The rubber rooms have gone underground. No one knows who these new rubber roomers are, because school and central budgets do not have a category for “reassigned” or “suspended” personnel.
The hiding of the reassignment rooms and process is very clear in the 3020-a hearings. Here is one example: in a 2019 case, whenever a witness or the NYSUT attorney mentioned anything about the accused teacher being "reassigned", the Department attorney Seyi Collins-Jemmott prosecuting the case told the transcriber/reporter,
"MS. JEMMOTT: [Interposing] I am--the
By the way, the picture below used by the POST is a great hero of mine, for resilience and his fighting spirit. His name is David Suker. He was charged with putting a false home address for himself when he registered his daughter for a school on the Upper West Side. He did not do what he was accused of, but in addition, by the time he was charged 10 years had passed. I know that any investigation into a student's real address must be completed within 30 days, and no one can be charged 10 years later. But in the random and arbitrary procedures used in NYC to discipline and/or terminate tenured educators, the laws of NY State have no relevance.
David Suker's NYSUT Attorney Steve Friedman did not know or care to know that the residence requirement charge was bogus, and David was terminated. David called me up after receiving his penalty of termination and asked for my help in his Article 75 Appeal, which I agreed to do with Attorney Maria Chickedanz. We won $250,000.00 for him as well as his job back. Love this guy.
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials
|A teacher sleeps at the city Department of Education's North Borough Support Center |
rubber room in 2016. New York was supposed to have done away with these tax-dollar wasters,
but the practice has merely been hidden from view.