The DOE’s Moral Bankruptcy

As a potential witness in an ongoing 3020a hearing for a colleague, it has been made very clear to me that I am not to talk about specifics of the case. The same goes for my colleague. One gets the sense that the Department of Education treats this as an actual trial.

We have already seen in the case of Chaz that the DOE has no problem with revealing incomplete information to the media about cases that have already been resolved. Despite the fact that independent arbitrators have already closed the cases of 16 teachers, the Daily News was able to run an article about these teachers along with Dennis Walcott’s sentiments that they should be fired.

The Daily News was only able to run this story because the DOE gave them biased and incomplete information.

It does not stop there. Susan Edelman of the New York Post ran a story this morning featuring teachers who got in trouble for things they have said on Facebook. The first teacher that was mentioned stuck out:

Meanwhile, Facebook is an occupational hazard. Patricia Dawson, an English teacher at the HS of Economics and Finance in Manhattan, is fighting DOE termination on misconduct charges for jesting 15 months ago on her Facebook page, “I’ll bring a gun to school” to get into security-controlled elevators. Several students joined in the banter — one offering to bring a gun to help her.

“No one took it seriously,” an insider said.

Colleagues say Dawson should not lose her career over a wisecrack, but her words, which the DOE deems harmful, are carved in cyberspace.

Patricia Dawson is “fighting termination”. Does this mean that the DOE is still doing an investigation or conducting a hearing? Does this mean that the hearing is over and the teacher is waiting on the arbitrator’s decision? Whatever it is, judging from this passage, the case is not yet closed.

I am sure that, just like my colleague, Patricia Dawson was warned against talking about the case. So how did the NY Post get information about a case that is not yet resolved?

There could only be one answer: the DOE gave them the information.

Why is it that a teacher cannot talk about their case, but the DOE can?

It seems to me that the DOE is looking to put pressure on the investigators and/or arbitrator to make the “right” decision. And what is the “right” decision?

That’s right, termination.

If they are able to cause enough of a public uproar, the arbitrators will be pressured to make the decision that the DOE wants. All the while, the teacher is not allowed to speak out or give their side of the story.

This is just one of the many ways that the 3020a process is skewed against the teacher.

It is fitting that the article ends with a mention of Christine Rubino. As we have seen, Rubino was able to get her termination overturned in New York State Supreme Court, a decision that the DOE is currently appealing.

During Rubino’s hearing, the DOE made up charges as they went along. They added new charges not originally included as they went into her past and tried to find things they could twist out of context.

So while the DOE tried to scare teachers with a sense of gravitas about these termination hearings, the fact is that they are nothing more than kangaroo courts. While most teachers do not get fired, the vast majority are found guilty. Exoneration is rarely ever an option for a teacher brought up on the most frivolous of charges.

How much tax money is being spent on these hearings? How much money is being wasted on lawyering up so the DOE can fire someone for something they said on Facebook? In an age of supposed budget cuts where art and music are disappearing and schools are being closed, this waste of tax dollars should be a crime.

Our tax dollars, the hard-earned money of working people, are being spent to fire other working people. And if the DOE can fire these working people for such trivial things, it sets a nationwide precedent for employers across the country to do the same.

This is the twisted game Bloomberg’s Department of Education plays. To say it is unethical is an understatement. To say that it is underhanded falls short of the mark. This is pure evil done by people with no scruples and no sympathy for those who have to actually work for a living.

The 3020a process is in need of a major overhaul. Add it to the list of things for which our union should be fighting, but is not.

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12 responses to “The DOE’s Moral Bankruptcy

  1. I am just alarmed! It is bad enough that teachers and “friends” will out fellow teachers on their facebooks, printing things to hand to the principal, but now to hear that the DOE is releasing information to the press before a hearing I am just floored.

  2. Why is it that a teacher cannot talk about their case, but the DOE can?

    I don’t know, but if my name is in the newspaper before I get to tell my side of my story (incident resulted in an LTF), it’ll be the reason why. I never thought, and still don’t, think it’s fair.

    I am however, absolutely floored that the DOE is going after this teacher’s job over that. I’m familiar with the building and (I think) I know that elevator and I thought the joke was hilarious when I read it. It isn’t anything that should have been manipulated as a harmful statement.

    • I am also familiar with that building and everyone apparently sees it for the joke it was. Maybe there is a vindictive administrator behind this?

      I have no idea why the teacher cannot talk about their case, or why witnesses like me have to stay silent. I guess it is so they can hamper our ability to respond to scurrilous media reports.

  3. Boy, do I know how the DOE works. They twist, pervert, embellish, change, and invent charges to suit their needs. At least there was some “blowback” in my case and I did expose the lengths the DOE investigators will go to make their case. when their wasen’t one.

    • There was so much blowback against the pile of untruths they wrote about you and, at the end of the day, they write a blurb correcting one small part of their ethically-challenged article. Seems as if they should have issued a wholesale retraction after what they tried to do to your reputations. Small victories I guess.

  4. I feel like Susan Pewter…I want to just scream “stop the insanity”. I so, do enjoy all these articles, and they are getting straight to the matter. Unfortunately, union members are not united….in strength there are numbers. But, so many do not stand up and voice their concerns…these articles you write should be in the union paper, but I bet they would never allow these truths to come out….the union is only worried about furthering the union, NYSUT…is only concerned with furthering THEIR reputation….and the arbitrators-just want to keep their lucrative job on the panel. It, is the lowest person on the totem pole, taking the brunt for this. Sad!

    • The union has been part of the problem. Because so many teachers are disengaged, we need to unite with numbers outside of the school system: parents, students and activists. It seems to be the only way to go.

  5. Pingback: Teachers, You Are Being Watched | assailedteacher

  6. “We have already seen in the case of Chaz that the DOE has no problem with revealing incomplete information to the media about cases that have already been resolved.” Incomplete? Hahahah it’s not incomplete, they MAKE IT UP! “Independent Arbitrators?” ROTFL…I’ve never witnessed a more incompetent bunch.

    • There used to be a time when the arbitrators had a good reputation. Now, their decisions get overturned by courts of law left and right. That should tell people something, considering how courts don’t like overturning decisions of “independent” arbitrators.

  7. Study the Axis II Cluster B Disorders you will notice a pattern…

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