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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Manhattan Center Principal David Jimenez Gets Away With Sexual Harassment

David Jimenez

When I read Sue Edelman's expose of Principal David Jimenez, I couldn't help but think "what if Harvey Weinstein and/or Bill Cosby worked for the NYC Department of Education? Would there be a #MeToo Movement?"

It's very disturbing that public funds are paying for this man, Principal David Jimenez, to stay in his job, as well as paying for his wrong-doing. Where are the investigators, and justice for the people who have been victimized?

See April 26, 2018, NY POST:
Department of Education stifled sex harassment claims: ex-union rep
and prior posts on this blog:



Wrong-doing of any kind needs to be fully investigated, and wrong-doers must be penalized, and stopped.

Betsy Combier
betsy@advocatz.com
ADVOCATZ.com


Principal accused in sex harassment cases totalling $200K keeps job

By Susan Edelman, NY POST

This principal was spared the #MeToo ax — twice.
While Mayor de Blasio has blamed a “hyper-complaint dynamic” for a spate of sex-harassment complaints at the Department of Education, the city has quietly shelled out $200,000 to two women who accused the same principal of abuse — yet he got to keep his job.
The city last month settled a second sexual-harassment suit in four years charging that Manhattan principal David Jimenez groped, made unwanted advances and retaliated against the women when they complained.
The city has now agreed to pay a total $200,000 to two assistant principals who worked under Jimenez at the Manhattan Center of Science and Mathematics in Harlem.
Yet even in the #MeToo era, Jimenez, who makes $173,707 a year, can’t be punished, officials said.
Felicia Bray
Five years after she filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court, Assistant Principal Felicia Bray reached a deal on April 4. The city agreed to pay her $150,000. She claimed she suffered Jimenez’ abuse from 2008 to 2009.
According to her suit, the harassment started when Jimenez touched her hand and told her he liked her. She replied that it made her uncomfortable, and that she wanted to keep their relationship professional. But he still pursued her aggressively, she alleged.
In his office, Jimenez “grabbed me from behind and tried to feel up my breasts,” she testified in a deposition. “I was wrestling with him and started to cry, ‘What are you doing?’ I was screaming.”
After five minutes, he finally stopped when a janitor knocked on the door, she said. “He told me to hide in the bathroom.”
Another time, according to her publicly filed deposition transcript, he followed her car in his, honking the horn, and demanding he pull over and join him.
In a health office, Jimenez asked Bray to open a desk drawer. It contained a fake penis used in sex-ed classes to demonstrate condom use.
“He laughed hysterically,” she recalled.
In a school hallway, Jimenez “leaned in and tried to smell me,” she said.
Bray confided in another AP, Arleen Milton, who revealed that Jimenez had harassed her, too, Bray testified. The two women agreed to stay together whenever he was with either of them.
Milton settled her own sex-harassment suit in 2014 after complaining that Jimenez tried to kiss her, made lewd comments and asked her on dates, according to court papers. The city paid her $50,000. She works as an assistant principal at another school.
When Bray finally complained to the DOE’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Jimenez began slapping her with disciplinary letters.
She lodged a complaint with the city’s Commission on Human Rights, charging that Jimenez was retaliating against her sex-based complaints.
Instead of investigating Jimenez, the DOE terminated Bray as an AP, citing “professional misconduct” and “insubordination.” She was demoted to teacher, her salary slashed.
A different school later rehired Bray as an AP. She now makes $140,639.
Another former AP under Jimenez called him “mean and vindictive,” saying, “He shouldn’t be a principal.”
In 2013, The Post reported that Jimenez ordered a beloved 89-year-old aide to man the elevator all day in an effort to get her to retire so he could give her $28,000-a-year job to someone else, staffers said.
“It’s scary,” said attorney Gerald Gross, who represented both Milton and Bray. “When you have similar acts alleged against the same principal, it’s incumbent on the city to start seriously investigating whether to keep this guy in the same position.”
DOE spokesman Doug Cohen said the settlement does not confirm wrongdoing. He added, “Cases are often resolved beyond the time-frame when DOE is legally able to impose discipline.”
The DOE also pointed to the Manhattan high school’s 96 percent graduation rate as evidence that Jimenez is “effective.”
“I have not been disciplined,” Jimenez told The Post. “I’ve always denied these accusations and I’m sticking to that. I did not sexually harass anyone.”
The Bray settlement comes after the city admitted it fielded 570 sex-harassment complaints in the DOE between 2013 and 2017, but substantiated just seven cases.
The de Blasio administration said last week it will spend $5 million to beef up enforcement, including hiring eight new investigators.
Harlem Teachers Say Principal Has no Principles

Teachers and others at an East Harlem high school say their principal is bad for education.
Principal David Jimenez of the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics has been accused of sexually harassing two employees, asking a staffer to lie, unfairly forcing out a teacher and creating a climate of fear and retribution.
"It's just so crazy in school, the tension between mostly the principal and the teachers has gotten out of hand where now it's affecting a lot of students,” said Oscar Valenzuela, the senior class president.
The Department of Education says it is investigating Jimenez, but staffers say the school is sinking as accusations have swirled for more than a year.  Jimenez declined to be interviewed.
Former Assistant Principal Felicia Bray is one of two women who accuse Jimenez of sexual harassment.
“He groped me in his office,” she said.
After filing a formal complaint against Jimenez last year, she says he retaliated against her and others.  She was sent to another school and is fighting her demotion to teacher.
Baseball coach Edgar Leon says the principal wanted him to lie and accuse Bray of okaying an unauthorized purchase for the team. He says that after he refused to lie, the school cut the baseball team's funding.
“I believe that I am a target for standing up for what's right,” said Leon.
To save the season, teachers say they raised $700 for the team. Leon thanked them with a barbecue. English teacher Yves Cloarec says Jimenez forced him to resign last June -- simply because he had attended that barbecue.
“Basically because I participated in that barbecue, I was no longer the right person for the job and as a matter of fact, he said so in those words,” said Cloarec.
Since Jimenez took over the school three years ago, the graduation rate has improved to 89.5%.  However the school's rating has dropped from an A to a low B and staffers say Jimenez has caused talented teachers and administrators to leave.
Student Dabian Canales was in Cloarec's English class and plays baseball for Coach Leon. 
“I just feel like it's unfair,” said Canales.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Students Attack Teachers and Staff - NY POST

The proof that the New York City public school system is in disarray can be seen in the statistics of harm done to the people who work or attend schools in the City. Student assaults are a symptom of bad management, plain and simple.

A culture of "hands off the little flowers" (children) no matter what they do, screams to kids, "You can do whatever you want". This well-known but unwritten "rule" harms everyone.

Especially the victims of bullies. A bully cannot exist in a zero-tolerance environment that is cognizant of the need to have accurate facts about circumstances before making conclusions. The NYC Department of Education does not have this embedded in policy at any District or school level, nor are there any "real" investigators ("real" investigators = people are professionally trained to look into the circumstances of events of bullying). It's a free-for-all in our city's schools where the strongest, most politically connected person wins the approval.

With accountability and consequences missing, bullies succeed. And they get people to follow them. This is "mobbing".

This type of mobbing, in my opinion, is a criminal operation created and pursued irrationally - because these are kids we are discussing.

From Wikipedia:
"In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state ("a public wrong"). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

With the meeting of more than two criminal minds, only malicious harmful consequences can occur. And such a group is almost always successful. No planning or strategies exist to re-direct the extremely malicious focus of a team of criminal minds.

This has to change.

Betsy Combier
ADVOCATZ.com 



Students attacked, threatened thousands of school employees last year

City school kids aren’t just hitting the books, they’re smacking their teachers.
More than 10,000 city school employees, from custodians to principals, and about half of them teachers, were assaulted or threatened by students last school year, The Post has learned.
A total of 10,825 staffers reported incidents in 2016-17, a 4.5 percent increase from the 10,357 ­embattled educators in 2015-16, and 11.8 percent more than the 9,686 in 2014-15, data show.
The number of incidents — including “altercations,” “physically aggressive behavior” and “inflicting serious injury” — also spiked. Schools reported 9,529 cases in 2016-17, up 3.5 percent from 2015-16 (9,211) and 10 percent from 2014-15 (8,677). Some cases involved multiple victims.
And from 2015 to 2017, a staggering 8,253 school employees, including 3,792 teachers, suffered injuries in those incidents.
Gregory Floyd

“The mayor’s narrative is that the schools are safer, crime is down. These stats show crime is not down. Assaults are high, threats are high,” said school-agent union leader Gregory Floyd.
“I’ve said from the beginning of the de Blasio administration, the schools are out of control.”
PS 78 in Queens topped the list with 80 victims of violence or threats in 2014-15; PS 3 on Staten Island held the top spot with 100 victims in 2015-16; and the Island’s PS 60 recorded a leading 179 victims in 2016-17.
The city Department of Education took 18 months to comply with The Post’s Freedom of Information Law request for the disturbing data.
The DOE refused to divulge details on the violence, citing student privacy, but several incidents have made the news:
  • A Bronx special-needs high-school student stabbed his teacher with a No. 2 pencil in October 2015. Devon Smalls, 17, attacked his 44-year-old teacher, Juliet Omenukwa, inside the Jeffrey M. Rapport School for Career Development, police said.Smalls, a special-needs student suspended three days earlier, allegedly punched the shell-shocked instructor and jabbed her multiple times in the ribs with the freshly-sharpened point, according to witnesses and reports. The teen pleaded guilty to harassment, and the charges were dropped on condition he complete community service, the Bronx DA’s office said.
  • In May 2016, a veteran English teacher at troubled Flushing HS landed in hot water for trying to stop a student who threatened to beat her with a heavy cast on his arm. Eileen Ghastin was so terrified when the teen charged at her that she blurted in self-defense, “If you hit me, I’ll kill you.” The May 17 confrontation occurred at a long-troubled school in de Blasio’s $600 million “Renewal” program. But instead of expelling the teen, the DOE suspended Ghastin for four weeks, with a hearing officer saying she should have followed Michelle Obama’s motto, “When they go low, we go high.” Ghastin is appealing.
  • In October 2016, a student at Manhattan Early College School for Advertising pummeled his principal who had asked him to remove his headphones. “He grabbed my Beats and was very aggressive so I lost control,” 18-year-old Luis Penzo confessed, court papers say. Matthew Tossman, 36, suffered two black eyes and a laceration that needed seven stitches. In September, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge granted Penzo youthful-offender status and sentenced him to a conditional discharge: if he stays out of trouble for three years, he’ll avoid prison and a criminal record.
Some teachers believe the number of assaults and threats is much higher, and that many incidents do not get recorded on the DOE’s Online Occurrence Reporting System.
Some administrators don’t want the school to look bad, or they blame the teachers for “poor classroom management.”
“If you complain, you’re a target,” a teacher said.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the union contract mandates a safety plan in every school, and each site should offer counseling, training and conflict resolution.
“One of our frustrations with the Department of Education is that it fails to ensure that this happens in every school,” he said.
The DOE data does not include assaults on school safety agents, who are NYPD employees. The unarmed guards suffer injuries while breaking up fights or trying to restrain kids — some have been punched or stabbed, said union leader Floyd.
“If they assault adults, what would they do to other students?” Floyd asked. “Children are being bullied and threatened too.”
Last September, a bullied teen at Urban Academy School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx whipped out a folding knife and stabbed two classmates, one fatally. There were 18 incidents at the school in recent years, five during 2014-15, two in 2015-16 and 11 in 2016-17. The school is closing this year.
“We take each incident seriously and have detailed protocols in place to ensure they are reported, investigated and addressed,” said a DOE spokesman.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Wade Goria: Please Stop The Grade-Fixing

We are getting many 3020-a cases where a tenured teacher or Guidance Counselor is charged with grade-changing, falsifying grades, not complying with Department policies, and similar such stuff. This theme is the flavor of the 2017-2018 school year, it seems.

If a student genuinely needs extra credit due to circumstances particular to him/her, then, of course, we support the teacher working with the student on credit recovery, extra homework, etc. All kids need a chance to succeed. But few students (there are special circumstances, IEPs, etc.) need to be socially promoted to graduation if there has been no effort or attendance.

If you are told to change the grades of your failing students, and you feel that the request is improper, then read further.

The department is trying its' best to shove great teachers under the bus, and we understand that game: put the blame on the teacher/Assistant Principal before someone blames the principal or goes to the media. Principals are always immune to prosecution, so the best thing that a teacher/AP can do when a Principal calls him/her into the main office and tells the person to change the grade on a Transcript Update Form or on something else, say "let me take this and I will get it back to you".  Go to your computer immediately, and write up the meeting, send the transcript update form to your UFT rep and the Superintendent with your reasons why this is improper. Ask for assistance in what to do. Stop the principal from cleaning his/her wheels with your career.

If you are charged with 3020-a specifications which charge you with any of the above, contact us. We got this.

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

Wade Goria is a former teacher and whistleblower at John Dewey HS in Brooklyn -- and he's still
pushing for the scandalized city school system to clean up its act.


Dear Mr. Chancellor, please stop the grade-fixing in NYC schools
NY POST, April 14, 2018

Five years ago, teacher WADE R. GORIA exposed a massive grade-fixing scheme at John Dewey HS in Gravesend, Brooklyn, along with his colleague Michael P. Klimetz. Their revelations led to a state audit, released last month, that confirmed the shocking truth: School leaders had committed wholesale fraud — and cheated students out of the education the city was required, by law, to provide. Here, in an open letter, Goria says how grade-fixing fraud is still widespread throughout the system and asks the new schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, to stop the rot . . .
A cancer has metastasized in NYC’s school system. It was deliberately planted by your predecessor, Carmen Fariña, with the sanction of the mayor, the State Education Department and the United Federation of Teachers.
In the face of Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious demands for dramatic increases in graduation rates, Fariña and her superintendents found a reliable means of achieving success: grade-fixing. John Dewey HS students sardonically called it “Easy Pass” amid a nightmarish flurry of corrupt practices that I witnessed as a social-studies teacher during the tenure of Principal Kathleen Elvin from 2012 to 2015. She came to Dewey as part of the mayor’s Renewal program for struggling schools.
Elvin’s creation of “Project Graduation” involved many schemes. Elvin created bogus titles such as “College Explorations” to give students a way to accumulate credits for courses they had failed or lacked. Many sham “credit recovery” courses covered a dozen or more academic subjects — math, science, English, Spanish, you name it — supposedly taught concurrently by a lone teacher who had no certification in most of the subjects. One rookie teacher was listed as having taught a total of 52 classes in all academic disciplines in a single semester. Little or no actual teaching went on. Most students didn’t even attend. Elvin’s assistant principals strong-armed teachers into giving passing grades. If they refused, the assistant principals and guidance counselors entered the data system and passed the kids anyway.
Elvin retaliated against unwilling teachers with endless disciplinary hearings. She and her assistant principals stormed into classrooms to do teacher observations guaranteed to slap them with the lowest rating: “ineffective.” After Michael P. Klimetz, a revered science teacher, refused to grade students in subjects he didn’t teach, he was moved to another room without lab equipment.
Our union failed us. The UFT chapter chair in all NYC public schools is required to review each teacher’s program to ensure compliance with the contract. Had this been done, the rug would have been pulled out from Elvin’s scam. The UFT’s Brooklyn representative was fully aware of the violations but failed to address our pleas for protection.


[Editor’s note: The UFT said Friday it gave “full support” to teachers who exposed the “principal’s destructive practices.”]
Michael and I reported Elvin’s massive fraud to Brooklyn Superintendent Michael Prayor, the Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations, the Special Commissioner of Investigation and members of the state Board of Regents. We naïvely assumed the system would intervene and halt these unconscionable practices.
More than 1¹/₂ years later, on June 30, 2015, the OSI finally issued a scathing report. But it detailed just some of the fraud and named only Elvin and two assistant principals, though most of the assistant principals and guidance counselors took part. A week later, Elvin was removed from Dewey amid intense media coverage. Yet, as we would learn a year later, it was all a charade. We believe Fariña never intended to hold Elvin accountable.
It took the state Education Department five years from the time they were first alerted about this outrageous scandal to issue an audit on March 25, finding that thousands of improper credits were awarded to Dewey students. But the audit gave no explanation of how the scam was carried out. It was like confirming a murder without describing how the victim was killed or who committed the crime.
The Board of Regents has yet to hold any guilty parties accountable by revoking their licenses or certifications, or by levying fines. This stands in stark contrast to the handling of a major cheating scandal in Atlanta 10 years ago, when prison sentences were meted out to corrupt educators. More recently, the Washington, DC, school system issued a swift and far more thorough report following media reports that Ballou HS had fixed grades and graduated students whose low attendance failed to meet requirements.
A once vaunted and proud institution, Dewey now boasts an 80 percent graduation rate, but last year 48 percent of the grads didn’t have test scores high enough to enroll in CUNY without remediation. Several assistant principals and other staffers who conspired with Elvin still work at the school. Elvin was awarded a post at the DOE’s Tweed headquarters and now collects $170,000 a year in the Office of Safety and Youth Development.
Chancellor Carranza, at the outset of your tenure, you are faced with a choice: You can stop the spread of the grade-fixing contagion by finally applying consequences for criminal fraud, or you can let the DOE further descend into self-serving degeneracy.
Wade R. Goria taught social studies for 20 years at John Dewey HS, retiring in 2015 after Principal Kathleen Elvin’s ouster. He also taught international relations at NYU for 18 years. He earned a master’s degree at Oxford University and authored the book“Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon, 1943-1976.”
Kathleen Elvin (picture by Gregory Mango)

Grade-fixing ex-principal lands $157K job as DOE administrator
by Sue Edelman, May 14, 2016 

The city will not appeal a decision to dismiss cheating charges against former Dewey HS Principal Kathleen Elvin, and will keep her on as a six-figure administrator, officials told The Post.
An internal probe had found that Elvin and her assistant principals at the Gravesend, Brooklyn, high school ran a grade-fixing scheme called “Project Graduation.” Hundreds of students — who dubbed it “Easy Pass” — got credits for sham classes with no instruction.
But Jay Nadelbach, a hearing officer assigned to conduct Elvin’s administrative trial, last month dismissed misconduct charges after the Department of Education failed to turn over records revealing it later approved all the credits. Nadelbach ordered Elvin, ousted in July 2015, “reinstated” and awarded back pay.
The city had 10 days to appeal the dismissal in court. “We did not appeal,” a city Law Department spokesman said.
Instead, Elvin “will be assigned to a position as a DOE administrator in a central office,” officials said. Her salary: $157,040.
“Ms. Elvin will not be placed in a school,” said DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye.
Officials would not explain why they didn’t fight to uphold the charges against Elvin, but a court appeal would have cast light on a major cheating scandal at a time when Mayor de Blasio is seeking extension of mayoral control of schools.
Dewey teachers who exposed the fraud aren’t surprised at Elvin’s victory.
“It completely substantiates the lack of sincerity in their ostensible effort to terminate her,” said retired social-studies teacher Wade Goria. “They never had any intention to fire her in the first place.”
The DOE probe found Elvin led a scheme in which students lacking credits in all subjects were listed on class rosters and given “packets” of work but got no instruction by certified teachers, as required by state law.
Whistleblowers believe Elvin planned to contend at trial that her actions were sanctioned by higher-ups, including Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
“Elvin would spill the beans on a system-wide policy,” another Dewey teacher said.
When the charges were tossed, Elvin said she was a victim of “character assassination” and the case was based on “misrepresentations, half-truths and misinformation.”
“It completely substantiates the lack of sincerity in their ostensible effort to terminate her,” said retired social-studies teacher Wade Goria. “They never had any intention to fire her in the first place.”
The DOE probe found Elvin led a scheme in which students lacking credits in all subjects were listed on class rosters and given “packets” of work but got no instruction by certified teachers, as required by state law.
Whistleblowers believe Elvin planned to contend at trial that her actions were sanctioned by higher-ups, including Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
“Elvin would spill the beans on a system-wide policy,” another Dewey teacher said.
When the charges were tossed, Elvin said she was a victim of “character assassination” and the case was based on “misrepresentations, half-truths and misinformation.”
CSA General Counsel David Grandwetter, Kathleen Elvin, Former CSA President Ernest Logan, Bon Reich
wnyc.org, Schoolbook, · by Yasmeen Khan
An arbitrator ruled to dismiss all disciplinary charges against Kathleen Elvin, the former principal of John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, who was removed from her position on charges that she ran a sub-standard credit recovery program. 
On Wednesday, Elvin expressed relief at the ruling. She said the allegations, her removal as principal and the media coverage of the issue amounted to a "character assassination." 
This was the latest twist in a story dating back at least to last school year when investigators looked into teachers' complaints that even students who did little work and had low attendance rates passed courses designed to help them accrue credits required for graduation. 
The arbitrator, Jay Nadelbach, wrote in his ruling that city education officials validated the credit recovery program when it certified the credits received by students, thereby allowing students to graduate. 
"If all the course credits were accepted and validated," wrote Nadelbach, "how can the Respondent be charged with misconduct for allegedly administering substandard courses?"
The union representing public school principals, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, applauded the ruling, and called the Wednesday press conference with Elvin.
"It was very difficult to actually read about myself and not recognize that person they were describing in print, because virtually none of it was true or accurate or clear in communicating what had gone on in the school," Elvin said. 
After she was removed from John Dewey in July she was suspended without pay. In March, she returned to the payroll, following an earlier ruling by the arbitrator. The most recent decision entitled Elvin to full back pay and reinstatement as a principal.  
"We are disappointed with this decision, and we are continuing to review our options," said Devora Kaye, a Department of Education spokeswoman, in a statement on Wednesday.
City education officials, according to a summary in the arbitrator's ruling, called the motion to dismiss disciplinary charges "premature and inappropriate." Instead, they wanted a full hearing to terminate Elvin's employment. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Betsy Combier Unravels 3020-a Arbitration in New York City


Lawline
Betsy Combier 
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

For fourteen years I have been researching the 3020-a Arbitration charging process used in New York City, and in particular the omission of a vote in Executive Session by the New York City Panel For Educational Policy which is mandated by Education Law 3020-a(2)(a). I ignored the verbal attacks by attorneys who chose to threaten me with doom if I continued to ask for the vote - and I went to both NYSUT and Department of Education Attorneys working on 3020-a cases.
Betsy Combier

  I have never received a rational response to "Betsy's Motion", until Judge Green stepped into the fray. On March 29, 2018, Judge Green in Richmond County Supreme Court granted the petition of Rosalie Cardinale wherein we argued that her right to a fair 3020-a hearing was denied by an unlawful determination of probable cause. Ergo, my argument that the 3020-a process in New York City has a lawless charging procedure.

What does that mean? What you want it to.
           
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
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Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 
Betsy Combier
ADVOCATZ
betsy.combier@gmail.com
917-596-1762

UPDATE April 7, 2018:

On April 5, 2018, a recently terminated teacher who used NYSUT for her 3020-a Arbitration, sent me the following email from /to her NYSUT Attorney:

"Date: April 5, 2018 at 12:23:45 PM EDT

"I spoke to a lawyer about the Staten Island decision and he had a warning shot for the UFT. I am not sure why i would have to hire a private lawyer to have my case revisited when the UFT has a duty to all terminated tenured teachers that can’t be brushed away in light of this decision.  The Uft opens itself up to personal liability if it fails to take action - such as intervening in the Staten Island case or bringing its own case against the DOE that is appropriate to protect the collective bargaining rights of tenured teachers who were improperly termination under the Staten Island decision. The UFT would be making a seriously unwise strategic decision if it were to do nothing simply because there are competing lower court decisions on the issue.  The UFT’s liability would be subject to appellate decision(s) that are unpredictable.  My case was never presented to the PEP and I would appreciate knowing how the Union intends to help people in my position in light of this decision.
Please advise."

The NYSUT attorney responded:

"I have now read the entire decision and the content of the Post article and any advice you are receiving which is the basis of your e-mail is misleading.

The Judge in the Staten island case did not rule that all 3020a cases have to be voted upon by the PEP in order to be validly brought. In fact, the Judge accepted the reasoning of other courts that the Chancellor (Farina) can delegate the authority to find probable cause and bring charges to Superintendents who can then delegate that authority to principals. What the Judge found was that in this case the DOE/ NYC Corporation Counsel failed to provide him with proof of such written delegations of authority.

The case you cite to is just the result of poor lawyering on the part of the DOE's counsel in the matter. The Delegation letters in question exist and my office has copies of those letters. When Chancellor Farina was installed we demanded copies of such letters from the DOE in order to ensure that the law was being respected/followed and that all cases were being properly brought. As a result, this office is satisfied that the law is being followed and that findings of probable cause underlying 3020a charges are being properly made.

I understand your frustration and anger. However, this decision is not a basis to challenge any 3020a result."

Hmmmm. First, I don't believe that Judge Green wrote that he 'accepted' that "Chancellor (Farina) can delegate the authority to find probable cause, and all the NYC DOE has to do is get the paper saying that the Chancellor delegates "...authority to [do anything]" and boom, probable cause is determined? That's just plain unfair and unjust.


I of course have the backstory on the "Delegation" statements by signed by Chancellors Klein, Black, Walcott, and Farina, submitted to countless arbitrators. They are worthless. Yep, that's what I have said, what I am saying, and what I will say, and I can prove it. In my work, I know that there is always a DOE Attorney and/or a NYSUT Attorney who will gladly say that I'm wrong, I don't know anything, I am not an Attorney, etc (I'm NOT an attorney, so that part is good), so I have spent 10 years coming up with facts and research to back up what I say and write.


How does the decision of Judge Green affect tenured teachers who have been given an unfair 3020-a decision in New York City?



We dont really know yet. What we do know is that we are ready to assist any DOE employee who has been charged with 3020-a in New York City (or New York State). We believe that every case is unique, and therefore we need to look at the circumstances in each case very carefully. Teacher trials are serious events.
As the paralegal for Attorney Jonathan Behrins in the Article 75 Appeal of Rosalie Cardinale, a teacher in Staten Island, we are saying that due to the Department' s desire for speed above rights, no vote in Executive Session took place at the Panel For Educational Policy, and therefore no arbitrator has subject matter jurisdiction and cannot hear evidence or decide on penalty. Our win in Staten Island for Rosalie changes the landscape of tenure rights and 3020-a, big time.

Jonathan and I have been working together on 3020-a hearings for more than two years (I have worked on about 58 cases over the past 7 years as an independent consultant/paralegal for several attorneys, except I no longer work with Attorneys Bryan Glass or Jordan Harlow, who would not agree with the premise and purpose of my Motion). We believe that Ms. Cardinale's termination at 3020-a arbitration in New York City was not rational, and Arbitrator Michael Lendino lawlessly took on the case (at $1400/day) despite our submission of "Betsy's Motion" to Dismiss For Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, now cited by Staten island by Judge Green.


Jonathan Behrins
The NY POST got the story first:
DOE took illegal steps to fire tenured teacher: judge
Selim Algar, NY POST, April 3, 2018

City teachers facing termination have been thrown a legal life preserver.

In a precedent-setting decision, a Staten Island judge ruled last week that the Department of Education took illegal shortcuts in firing a tenured teacher.

Judge Desmond Green said that a termination hearing can take place only after a vote by the Panel for Educational Policy establishes probable cause.

Green said the DOE ignored that requirement in canning Rosalie Cardinale and ordered her reinstated.

Longtime advocate Betsy Combier, who worked on Cardinale’s case, said the DOE has ignored the law for more than a decade — and thinks Green’s ruling sets a precedent to challenge other firings.

“This is huge,” she said. “This is a protection we are supposed to be giving tenured teachers. For all these years, they have not gotten it. It’s not right.”

Neglecting the probable- cause vote “violates Petitioner’s due-process rights and violates New York’s strong public policy protecting the integrity of the tenure system,” Green wrote in his decision.

Cardinale’s lawyer, Jonathan Behrins, said the DOE purposefully avoids the PEP vote because it exposes dubious terminations to more scrutiny.

A city Law Department spokesman defended Cardinale’s firing.

“We believe DOE’s determination was appropriate and lawful,” said spokesman Nick Paolucci.
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For 14 years as a teacher advocate in New York, my focus has been assisting educators with problems concerning their workplace, and/or, if they were tenured, researching the backstory of 3020-a charges served on them in the rubber room or reassignment.

In New York City, I knew that the controlling Law for 3020-a arbitration is Education Law 3020-a. It says so in the charging papers. But Ed Law 3020-a (2)(a) says that there must be an Executive Session and a vote by the school board (in NYC the "PEP") on probable cause for the charges before the charges are served. In NYC, this Executive Session never takes place and there is no date in the charging papers for this meeting and vote.

For many years teachers charged with 3020-a Specifications received the 3020-a charges ("Specifications") with APPENDIX A in the packet. I asked NYSUT and the DOE why this was sent out to all tenured charged educators if there was no compliance in NYC, and the answer was always, "that's the way it is".

I used to attend PEP meetings and spoke about the "Executive Session" being held before the public meeting began, which is a violation of Open Meetings Law #105.  I collected Agendas with this violation of Open Meetings Law from 2006-2013, and continuously asked 
why all the PEP members since I started attending the meetings have violated Open Meetings Law...why weren't they held accountable? I also spoke about my dismay that the charging process for teacher tenure hearings was a violation of the tenure law, in my non-attorney opinion. Please make note of the fact that I know some members personally, and have NO gripe against anyone personally, only as an official member of the PEP, where all New York State Laws are to be complied with.

When speaking at PEP meetings I carefully tried my best to take less than 2 minutes, leaving 45-50 seconds for former NYC schools Chancellor Joel Klein to give me an answer. He rolled his eyes, sometimes looked at DOE General Counsel Mike Best with his "there she goes again" look and took 10 seconds to tell me " your time is up, Ms. Combier, next speaker please" and 10 seconds for me to say "...but you didnt answer my question..."

I did not attend PEP meetings since then because they are useless, except for the PEP meeting on Feb 28 2018, where the two schools I was helping, MS 53 and PS/MS 42, were allowed to continue, open and free.

I have been writing about the PEP and teacher tenure on my blogs and websites since 2007, and I have submitted these issues to the DOE Attorneys as well as the Attorneys I work with and NYSUT, for at least that long, if not longer (I started working with teachers in 2003). I now assist at 3020-a as a member of the legal team (Im not an attorney). An educator charged with 3020-a does not need an Attorney in arbitration, but if anyone goes Pro Se, I highly recommend an assistant to help with the process. I do that, but I most often work with attorneys.

In 2003 I started asking all of the Attorneys I knew why there was no compliance with this section of Ed Law 3020-a. The answer I received always was, "...because that's the way it is", or "Don't worry about it". But I did worry about it, and when I began working on 3020-a hearings as an assistant to teachers who wanted to be pro se (without an attorney) or who wanted me and a private attorney to be the legal team, we always presented a Motion To Dismiss on the issue that if there was no vote on probable cause, then the arbitrator had no authority to proceed to a decision, and any decision was invalid.

We were denied on our Motion in the Supreme Court until Judge Desmond Green saw it differently:

“The DOE’s failure to make a finding of probable cause and adhere to the procedural protections guaranteed to Petitioner in Education Law § 3020-a violates Petitioner’s due process rights and violates New York’s strong public policy protecting the integrity of the tenure system.”

It appears that this decision unravels the 3020-a panels and nullifies the decisions made by any arbitrator who refused to grant the Motion To Dismiss on the basis of a lawless determination of probable cause signed by a Principal or Superintendent. There is no rule, law, or memo that specifically gives either Principals or Superintendents the authority to sign that paper, NOTICE OF DETERMINATION OF PROBABLE CAUSE.

I am writing a book about my experiences in 3020-a hearings after I brought up this issue.

The Department Attorneys have submitted responses, or Opposition to the Motion To Dismiss that range from the boring to the funny and ridiculous. One theme always appears: the Chancellor has the right to charge anyone, and can delegate this authority to anyone.

Again, I am not an attorney, but preferring, or serving, charges on tenured educators is not the same as determining "probable cause". My final answer.