Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lawyering Up For The Layoffs

I posted yesterday that if the Assembly and State Senate bills are passed that allow the mayor to lay off teachers using measures other than seniority - like ever being "u" rated or convicted of any crime or fined by the DOE - the first thing I would do after receiving such a notice is seek legal counsel to protect myself and my job.

Even the Murdoch shills at the Wall Street Journal acknowledge today that laying people off based upon some of these criteria - like ever being convicted of a crime - is problematic and perhaps discriminatory:

A bill introduced in the Senate and soon to be introduced in the Assembly seeks to change the law that requires teachers to be laid off solely on the basis of seniority. It aims at the 529 New York City teachers who have been convicted of crimes.

The bill also aims to put at the top of the layoff list those teachers who have been rated "unsatisfactory" by principals; who have been absent or late too often; or who have faced misconduct allegations that have been substantiated.

The assistant general counsel for New York State United Teachers, Claude Hersh, said he doubts there are 529 teachers who have been convicted of crimes, as most in that position tend to seek out the union for help. He said there are fewer than 50 such cases coming through his office each year, and added that the Department of Education has the option of seeking to dismiss any teacher convicted of a crime, but doesn't always do so.

Mr. Hersh also said that in many cases the crimes are related to teachers who did not properly disclose their incomes as they sought to continue to qualify for subsidized public housing.

The DOE did not provide figures for how often it seeks to dismiss teachers who have been convicted of crimes.

"The vast majority of our teachers are law-abiding citizens who are doing a great job—but, if we have to lay off 4,600 teachers, we certainly think those who have been convicted of crimes should be laid off before a good teacher who has done nothing wrong," said a DOE spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz.

Legal experts said picking off teachers merely because of their convictions is problematic. State law bars discriminating against people with criminal convictions unless the crime was directly related to the job at hand.

"It's unfair and discriminatory for all employers in New York, not just school teachers, to hold against someone a conviction based on conduct that had nothing to do with the fitness of their job," said Samuel Estreicher, who teaches labor and employment law at the New York University School of Law.

Okay - couple of things here:

First, note that the DOE can ALREADY fire teachers convicted of a crime, but the NYSUT says they don't always seek to do so.

Next, note that the NYSUT doubts the figure of teachers convicted of crimes publicly disclosed by the mayor and the DOE.

Gee - Mayor Moneybags and the DOE lying about data? What a surprise!

Then note that they're going to seek to fire ANYBODY ever convicted of ANY crime - including someone who has been arrested and convicted of trespassing or making a public nuisance during a public protest or someone who got arrested for some public vandalism as a teenager.

In other words, misdemeanors AND felonies will be treated the same under these layoff provisions.

Look, I'm not out to defend teachers convicted of crimes, but I do want to make the point that this is Bloomberg, the DFER's and all the other anti-union forces looking to manipulate public opinion by tarring any teacher ever "u" rated, arrested for something or fined as some scumbag criminal malcontent who belongs in jail, not a NYC classroom.

If that is so, then the DOE ALREADY has the means to seek their dismissal - as they have with the two teachers allegedly found to be having sex in a classroom or the former sex worker who openly bragged about her prostitution past on her blog.

So for the mayor and the DOE and the DFERer's and the Journal to make believe like there is a whole bunch of scumbag criminal malcontents in NYC schools who ought to be fired is just jive.

This is about PUBLIC MANIPULATION to get their way on a larger issue that will allow them to lay off senior teachers at will and save the system millions of dollars.

Finally, let me state again that if the state senate and assembly bills go through with the convoluted provisions for how to lay off teachers using "U" ratings, two years of "bad" student test scores as measured by a value-added assessment with 12%-35% margins of error, a criminal conviction, or a DOE fine, there are SO MANY grounds to sue on, both individually as a teacher and collectively as a union, that the first thing everybody who gets notice should do is LAWYER UP.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I don't know what the media are yammering about--of course teachers can and should be fired if they have committed crimes. But the vast majority of teachers fired have NOT committed "crimes" but have been thrown out on trumped up charges, like I was, in order for the districts to save money on older, more expensive hires, and to cheat them out of full retirement benefits. Typically teachers who commit crimes almost ALWAYS have their licenses revoked.

    A "u" rating is just a bunch of bogus shit for the most part, so is being "disciplined" because the vast majority of these targeted teachers are victims of principal retaliation. Of course NOTHING will be done to the real culprits, the principals, who have almost ironclad job security nationwide. THEY and their superiors are the problem in public education, not the teachers.

  3. RBE:

    I so agree with you. The DOE wants everybody to forget that they have the power to file 3020-a charges if they want a teacher terminated (me for instance). However, their problem is teacher due process and the Arbitrator makes a decision based upon the evidence. Now Bloomberg wants to fire (not layoff) these teachers (me for example) because they couldn't get their way in a relatively fair Administrative hearing.

    Susan, I also agree with you and I am so sorry that you could not survive the DOE termination process.

  4. I read that the "U" provision is for teachers getting one in the last 5 years. Or is the time frame unlimited?

  5. Chaz, it wasn't in NYC, but in Nevada, but I think our stories around the country are similar. It is horrible the way teachers are being treated. What will happen when the supply of teachers finally dries up when nobody wants to train to go into a field only to be fired before one has a chance to make a career of it? Well, I suspect the standards for licensure will be lowered so that anybody can do it without a formal education or that all schools will eventually be abolished in favor of online "learning" wherein the "teachers" will be in China or India making pennies a day.