This afternoon, May 5, 2020, a wonderful human being died. Here is the post on Eric Chasanoff's blog from his son:
Tuesday, May 05, 2020
I don't remember when Eric and I met, because he was never in the re-assignment center at 25 Chapel Street, Brooklyn, a place I started visiting at least once if not more each week starting in 2003.I had met a teacher named David Pakter who told me to come and speak with the teachers there, so I did. I did not know that the general public, which I was, did not have access to the location but the guards at the door never stopped me. I became friends with the principal of 25 Chapel Street. Every re-assignment room had its own principal to oversee the room and everyone inside.
In 2007 I was hired to be UFT Special Representative for the re-assignment centers in NYC by Randi Weingarten. At that time there were 7 separate locations in every borough nicknamed the "Rubber Rooms". Hence the name of this blog, which I started in 2007.
After being hired, I started visiting a teacher reassignment center (I called these locations "TRC"s for short) every day. I stayed all day, and listened to the stories and charges of the people held in these rooms. Eric Chasanofff was in the TRC in Queens. He was elected liaison to the UFT, kind of like a chapter leader. Every TRC elected a representative.
For three years 2007-2010 Eric and I sat together each and every month, at the UFT - 52 Broadway - on the 14th floor to discuss the re-assignment rooms in each borough. These monthly meetings were important guides to what was happening to the UFT members held inside, most without any information about what they were being charged with. All the Special Representatives of the UFT, Attorney Adam Ross, Staff Director Leroy Barr, and the Borough chiefs from each borough were there.
The Queens location was the largest, so Eric, the Queens liaison, spoke alot. He was always prepared with details of everything going on with his people, and he consistently advocated for change to make the lives of the members better. Then he and I walked to the subway. We met socially many times, with our respective families.
Eric asked me to attend his disciplinary hearing (3020-a), which I did. I was there every day. His attorney was NYSUT attorney Eric Chen. The hearing took place 5 days in June-July 2010, and closing arguments were given on October 27 2010. Eric's charges were absurd, and the arbitrator agreed, giving him a small fine and not terminating him.
Indeed, at his hearing the investigator testified that what Eric was charged with was NOT misconduct. I use this for closing arguments in misconduct cases. Eric's case clearly showed how much of a set up the 3020-a charges were, and I started looking into the so-called "investigations" which led to 3020-a charges in more than 200 cases, all of which I have in my files. Eric and I had long discussions about this subject.
Eric then became an ATR, travelling from school to school. Whenever I asked him how it was going, he always said "fine". He loved teaching and made the best of it. By all accounts, he was a fantastic science teacher and his students adored him. So I've heard. I believe it.
Whenever I got a call from a DOE employee (teacher, Guidance Counselor, Assistant Principal, paraprofessional, or whatever) who asked a question I could not answer, I called Eric. Eric was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge for me and many others. And, he always would have time to chat about the issues at hand.
I will miss him.
So will many other bloggers, teachers, and friends throughout New York City. Norm Scott's post is heartfelt:
I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to Eric's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Eric and I go back many years. He was a longtime Earth Science Teacher at Jamaica High School. Not only was he a successful teacher, Eric was also a strong union activist. He stood up for what he believed in.
We served together for a number of years on Jamaica High School's School Leadership Team. Eric was a supporter of empowering the students and the parents. On the issue of school safety, he was able to help us establish school policies that ensured a safe building while still maintaining student rights. When it came to standing up for teachers, Eric was a staunch defender of the ability of the classroom teacher to have real autonomy in his/her classroom.
That robust defense of teachers sometimes put him in the crosshairs of the Principal who charged him unfairly. Eric was the first teacher to win a probable cause hearing. He defended himself and other falsely accused teachers brilliantly while waiting for his 3020-a hearing to take place. At that time, he became a Queens Liaison with the UFT. When his hearing came around, it was my pleasure to go and testify on his behalf. I was able to tell the arbitrator how after Eric was pulled from Jamaica, the Earth Science Regents scores plummeted drastically. Our friend Francine Kaalund also testified about Eric's abilities in the classroom. He moved on after he won his hearing but we stayed in touch right up through the first part of 2020.
I encouraged him with his blog and he kept pushing me to keep this one going. We would sometimes run ideas passed each other on the phone. One idea was to have a real meeting of Absent Teacher Reserves where we could listen and talk to each other as regular teachers. We wouldn't talk down to ATRs as the UFT is often accused of doing. Eric ran that forum in Manhattan; I mostly sat and watched. The workshop he led for ATR's was nothing like an official UFT ATR meeting. Eric ran it like a good Chapter Meeting. It was really interactive. He never once told an ATR that they were lucky to have a job.
Both the Jamaica High School family and the blogger community have suffered a big loss with Eric's passing. Rest in peace."