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They are trying to fire NYC teachers without cause

December 26, 2008 pm31 10:47 pm

First it was the ATRs. The DoE wanted to fire them if they remained unplaced. We stopped that.

Then it was the RTRs. Just this month. We field the grievance, got an injunction, an extension, beat back their appeal. And we have enough confidence in the strength of our position (legally) and the strength of our position (solidarity with all our members, as a union) that we have put up a substantial bond.

One day they will come back after the unplaced ATRs. The DoE is looking for ways to chip away at our job protection. They are as patient as they are vile, and after each loss they regroup and look for a new line of attack.

Read the case of the longterm sub at a Bronx middle school who was just fired: (she was wrongly being paid as a per-diem)

Was teacher fired for consulting union?

by Kate Pastor

PS 207 parents are rallying around a teacher who they say was suddenly and unjustly fired just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ada Luna, who was filling a position as a first-grade English as a Second Language teacher, said she was fired on Nov. 24, after trying to discuss her salary with the principal, Maria Rosado. After the principal brushed her off, she said, she met with the school’s United Federation of Teachers’ representative, Leida Romero-Lopez, and was promptly fired for doing so.

A petition signed by 20 parents derides the firing as being “sudden,” “demeaning” and “disruptive,” and calls the principal’s decision not to inform them of the personnel change beforehand, “unprofessional.” (continues)

Belky Vizcaino, whose child was in Ms. Luna’s class, says she hand delivered the petition to Sonia Menendez, the Community School District 10 superintendent, on Dec. 1.

While the suddenness of Ms. Luna’s departure was upsetting to parents like Ms. Vizcaino — whose child was held back last year and was starting to flourish under Ms. Luna’s care — the union’s grievances against the principal go far beyond that.

Ms. Romero-Lopez has filed grievances with the teachers’ union, one for retroactive pay on Ms. Luna’s behalf, and another for interfering with the union.

“It wasn’t because she was a bad teacher,” said Ms. Romero-Lopez of Ms. Luna’s firing. “She was actually observed and it was satisfactory. She was dismissed on a personal level. “

Ms. Rosado, the school’s principal, did not return calls for comment and John Khani, assistant director of public affairs for the Counsel of School Supervisors and Administrators, the principals’ union, said he reached out to Ms. Rosado. She claimed to have been advised by the city Department of Education not to make any statements, he said.

Ms. Luna was hired in the fall to fill in for a teacher out on leave, and was being paid as a substitute at $154 per diem with no benefits. She was informally assured by Ms. Rosado that the job would become permanent, she said, but was only officially notified that she was being hired as a classroom teacher once Ms. Rosado heard from the teacher out on leave, on Oct. 9, that she would not be returning.

The next month, on Nov. 14, Ms. Rosado announced to the school leadership team, Ms. Romero-Lopez and Ms. Luna that she was planning on hiring Ms. Luna permanently. According to UFT rules, teachers’ salaries apply to long-term substitute teachers who were hired to fill an unencumbered vacancy within the first 15 days of a term.

Ms. Luna said she repeatedly tried to reach out to Ms. Rosado to discuss her raise and retroactive pay, but could not get the principal to sit down and meet with her.

The last straw for Ms. Luna came when Ms. Rosado was absent from school on Oct. 31 — the day of a scheduled meeting — and delayed rescheduling indefinitely. That is when she went to speak with Ms. Romero-Lopez. She was fired later that day.

‘Your last day’

“Ms. Luna, today’s gonna be your last day,” she remembers the principal telling her on Nov. 24, “because I told you not to open your mouth and I changed my mind.” Earlier that same day, Ms. Rosado told Ms. Romero-Lopez that she was dismissing Ms. Luna because of budget cuts.

The day after she was fired, Ms. Luna set out to make a round of painful calls to the parents of the students in her class, telling them that she would not return, and canceling a potluck Thanksgiving feast planned for the following day.

Ms. Vizcaino said her daughter was so upset upon hearing her beloved teacher would not return to class that she cried and did not go to school for two days.

Ms. Vizcaino’s family was not alone in their dismay. There were 20 signatories on the petition that begins, “We the parents of class 1-111.” There were 21 kids in Ms. Luna’s class when she left, she said.

A literacy cluster teacher has taken over Ms. Luna’s first-grade classroom, according to Ms. Romero-Lopez, even though she is not a licensed ESL teacher and is not fluent in Spanish and therefore cannot effectively communicate with the parents.

Seeking remedies

The remedy Ms. Romero-Lopez is seeking through the first grievance, filed on Dec. 4, is for Ms. Rosado to pay Ms. Luna retroactively. Another grievance, filed on Dec. 15, asks for the principal to respect the union chapter leader and to reinstate Ms. Luna.

Ms. Rosado made news in recent weeks when she herself was disciplined for violating the city’s conflict of interest law by allowing her grandchildren to attend two schools she was in charge of, even though the kids were not zoned for those schools.

“She hasn’t learned her lesson,” said Ms. Romero- Lopez, who added that Ms. Rosado “has intimidated the teachers,” telling several not to speak with the union rep.

Ms. Luna is still out of a job and said she is facing the daunting process of trying to find another one in the middle of the school year.

With the holidays near, she said, “I support my daughter by myself so it’s hard for me.”

21 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2008 am31 5:16 am 5:16 am

    After this is resolved at grievance or arbitration, the teacher should file a lawsuit against the D.O.E. and the principal for discrimination based on race, religion and or age. Even if she does not win, she will have the principal in a state of anxiety until the case is heard or dismissed.

  2. Chaz permalink
    December 27, 2008 pm31 7:12 pm 7:12 pm

    Let’s see if Randi and gang makes this a test case against the DOE and their Principals from hell.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    December 27, 2008 pm31 8:26 pm 8:26 pm

    Maria Rosado sounds a lot like Valerie Reidy, principal of Bronx Science, in her disrespect toward teachers and anti-union sentiment. both of these principals will put their own vindictiveness before students needs. How sad that this is allowed to continue. The students are the ones who really suffer.

  4. December 27, 2008 pm31 9:45 pm 9:45 pm

    @ Rob, nice idea. I’ll see if it can’t be passed on.
    @ Chaz, I’m not sure what this would be a test of.

  5. Chaz permalink
    December 28, 2008 pm31 8:36 pm 8:36 pm

    The test case would be a PERB complaint of improper practice against the Principal.

  6. December 28, 2008 pm31 9:22 pm 9:22 pm

    I must be missing something. We grieve. We win. She gets back pay. She gets reinstated. It’s over. Why PERB? There’s nothing to indicate a pattern of problems from this principal (unless you know more than I do about her), and I am not hearing lots of cases of using OCPDs to fill regular teacher lines. What is there to test here?

  7. Chaz permalink
    December 29, 2008 am31 3:48 am 3:48 am

    You just identified the problem with the union. You grieve for an untenured teacher and lose (almost always). By taking it to PERB as an unfair practice you raise the stakes and force the DOE to consider their actions more carefully.

  8. December 29, 2008 am31 4:24 am 4:24 am

    I don’t have confidence in anyone’s ability to manage this from afar. Bring this to your chapter leader, and if he disagrees with me, I’ll listen carefully, but at this point continued conversation does not seem a responsible course.

  9. anon permalink
    December 29, 2008 am31 9:15 am 9:15 am

    Everyone please be aware that the DOE (Emperor Bloomy I) might just be coming after tenure! Yes the sacred cow of the UFT, tenure, which for the record is simply due process. First, I believe, it will be by extending the 3 year probationary period and making it 5 years. This will be an insidious first step in the Emperor’s quest to eliminate tenure all together and to be proclaimed the greatest educational reformer of them all. I envision an extension that will only affect new teachers (teachers starting after the singing of the new contract). To grease the wheels, the DOE will offer a raise of approx. 4% per year which is what the other unions are getting. In a worse case scenario, a compliant UFT can then attempt to take credit for getting its members a raise despite the “horrific economy” and endeavor to shove this “dubious” reform down our collective throats. For starters, extending the time needed to achieve tenure will clearly weaken the union by reducing the number of tenured teachers at each school. So with the advent of mini-schools shrinking the chapters, and fewer tenured teachers in the union, the die will be cast. Merit pay, charters schools, and even vouchers, can they be far behind? There are those who believe me to be a tad cynical in these matters, and I sincerely hope that I am wrong!
    But wait; sadly there is cause for my cynicism…. Not one to take any chances, Emperor Bloomy I has now hired “former” democratic strategist and current “Rodger Clemens style gun for hire” Howard Wolfson fresh from his gig at Fox News to spin for him. Howard does not play nice…But he does play well! Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice spells it out quite well …“The selection of Wolfson is designed to make us forget that Bloomberg backed George W. Bush in 2004 and has been the largest New York donor to Republican Party committees — state and federal — for the past seven years.” Wait there is more! “One of Glover’s top clients is the United Federation of Teachers, and Wolfson’s move to Bloomberg may be a signal that the union’s retreat on the term-limits bill in October will be repeated in the mayoral election, with union president Randi Weingarten, who’s often railed against Bloomberg education policies, neutralized or even backing Bloomberg. Below is the link to Barrett’s full post.
    What??? What’s with all the smoke and mirrors? Unionists beware!

  10. anon permalink
    December 29, 2008 am31 9:40 am 9:40 am

    By the way Glover is Howard Wolfson’s PR firm.

  11. anon permalink
    December 29, 2008 pm31 9:30 pm 9:30 pm

    By the way the above is purely speculation. I do think that the UFT does have our best interest at heart.

    When I say I believe, “First, I believe, it will be by extending the 3 year probationary period and making it 5 years.”
    I mean that I speculate in a …”a worse case scenario”, I have no inside information.

  12. December 29, 2008 pm31 9:31 pm 9:31 pm

    Thanks for the stuff on Wolfson… it’s not what I normally pay attention to… but it is concerning.

    As far as tenure, I know that they will continue to come after it. They’ve been looking for ways to chip away at it for years. I am concerned that there may be backdoors for them to use “teacher data” to attack tenure (read more here.

    What you’ve speculated about, an extension to the probationary period, is exactly the sort of thing they might try to pull. And we should be ready. Tenure must not be touched.

  13. anon permalink
    December 29, 2008 pm31 9:33 pm 9:33 pm

    right on J (cut the pony-tail now)!

  14. pbpcbs permalink
    December 30, 2008 am31 5:24 am 5:24 am

    Randi Weingarten & Co. have repeatedly prostituted themselves to the mayor’s office, happily giving up hard fought protections and several generations of untentured teachers for a few dollars…choosing to ignore repeated insults (remember parking?) in the hopes that things will change with the next administration. Now that so much has been given up, all the leadership really has left to give up is tenure, so count on it being the next virtue to be handed over for a few silver pieces and an appropriately ornate press release. And another “tough Randi” picture in the UFT trade rag.

  15. December 30, 2008 am31 10:29 am 10:29 am

    They are committed to not giving in on tenure. We need to hold them to that.

    (and better than we held them on merit pay, where schoolwide bonuses were the way in the backdoor, thinly veiled)

    The DoE’s not going to come in and say “give up tenure.” As the previous commenter pointed out, they will propose nibbling at the edges, to weaken one or another aspect of tenure. We cannot let them start.

  16. December 30, 2008 pm31 11:06 pm 11:06 pm

    Yep, but as long as people like Rhee explain tenure as a lifelong sinecure instead of the ability to receive due process, this will continue. That principal had the teacher where she wanted because she was a sub rotating into being probationary. Add in principals unaccountable for rational behavior, and you’ve got trouble.

  17. December 31, 2008 am31 6:14 am 6:14 am

    Good converation so far. I’ll add the following:

    I would like the UFT brass to be aware of the fact that there are members who pay attention. Isn’t that what all these “blogs” are about? Members who in fact pay attention to national and city politics and to what was said 5 years ago and what is being said today. Pay attention to the good things that leadership does, and notice when they miss something. When I miss something I don’t mind my students pointing it out to me is a civil manner. I don’t advocate screaming and yelling at leadership, they don’t warrant it. They also deserve credit when credit is due! What I want is real conversation; I want accountability from the classroom, from the chapters and from 52 Broadway. Along these lines, I strongly believe that the labor movement needs activists who can work within the union to affect change! Working against the union helps does not help our membership. I want the UFT membership to pay attention, because an informed union is a strong union!

    UFT members need to connect the dots and hold their leadership accountable, this is reasonable; this is what a union should be all about! UNION – we are all in this together! From the first year teacher on the steep learning curve to the crafty veteran teacher finishing up their careers, they should be consulted and considered! It should be remembered that leadership works for the membership, and when they do membership is willing to, driven to do the hard work, in the trenches of the labor movement, like knocking on doors in Philly for Obama or making phone calls for Hillary, night after night, end of story. Membership would only be helping their own cause by becoming more involved at the chapter level. How to accomplish this goal truly needs to be part of the conversation between membership and leadership of the UFT.

    Recently, when my school was “reviewed” by some suit from England, it only served to prove my point. Want to help our school? Don’t send the foreign consultant types instead how about a committee of in-service teachers not looking to rate schools? Working instead to offer schools practical suggestions based on recent experiences on how they can better serve their students.

    Teachers, on the job, the classroom teachers need a larger, voice, a more discernible platform in the formation of educational policy in this city and in the country. The “Ivory Tower” edu-crats who make education policy in this country must come back to earth, they should to talk classroom teachers, ask us questions, not judge us, rate us, statistic us to death. If what everyone truly wants is to make city schools more effective then this is the best way to do it by far! Politics and education shouldn’t mix, but in the real world they do and always will. Consequently, the classroom teacher needs find a way to have a louder voice in the education policy discussion. I have great hope and confidence that our new president as well as our UFT and AFT president (Randi) knows this to be true and will help make it a reality!

    Klein? Would someone who was a cop for 6 months be named police commissioner? Are you kidding me

  18. January 5, 2009 am31 4:49 am 4:49 am

    Are we still waiting for the conclusive research on class size to come in?

  19. January 5, 2009 am31 4:54 am 4:54 am

    Lots of great thoughts here- I have a lot of concern about the loss of tenure, and don’t believe for one minute that those “data reports” won’t be used against us (does ANYONE believe that?). And frankly, we just can’t trust Randi anymore. On more than one occasion I’ve wondered if she could/should be impeached.

  20. January 5, 2009 am31 4:56 am 4:56 am

    The quality of ed research is so low that, no, certainly nobody should be waiting for any ed studies.

    That being said, there was one good class size study (large size, longitudinal, control group) that concluded that smaller class size in the first few years of school produce benefits that endure through the end of high school.

    There’s no good research on class size in high school, but hell, do you need research to know the answer to that one?

  21. January 5, 2009 am31 6:42 am 6:42 am

    This was written by Bill Ayers, yes that Bill Ayers. He seems to know a bit of education. I’ve heard he can find Africa on a map, can you Sarah?

    Of course I would have loved to have seen Linda Darling-Hammond become Secretary of Education in an Obama administration. She’s smart, honest, compassionate and courageous, and perhaps most striking, she actually knows schools and classrooms, curriculum and teaching, kids and child development. These have never counted for much as qualifications for the post, of course, and yet they offer a neat contrast with the four failed urban school superintendents–Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Paul Vallas, and Arne Duncan — who were for weeks rumored to be her chief competition.

    These four, like George W. Bush’s Secretary of Education, Rod Paige of the fraudulent Texas-miracle, have little to show in terms of school improvement beyond a deeply dishonest public relations narrative. Teacher accountability, relentless standardized testing, school closings, and privatization — this is what the dogmatists and true-believers of the right call “reform.” Michelle Rhee of Washington D.C., the most ideologically-driven of the bunch, warranted a cover story in Time in early December called “How to Fix America’s Schools” in which she was praised for making more changes in a year and a half on the job than other school leaders, “even reform-minded ones,” make in five: closing 21 schools (15% of the total), firing 100 central office personnel, 270 teachers, and 36 principals. These are all policy moves that are held on faith to stand for improvement; not a word on kids’ learning or engagement with schools, not even a nod at evidence that might connect these moves with student progress. But of course evidence is always the enemy of dogma, and this is faith-based, fact-free school policy at its purest.

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