Can Bloom-Klein’s DOE Attack on Probationary Teachers Be Remedied

Her name is Jennifer and she is in her early twenties. She wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl. Her mother was a teacher. Her father was a teacher. Both are retired now from the NYC Board of Education. Her aunt Susan and older brother Kyle are also educators.

Jennifer remembers getting her first chalkboard easel as a gift when she was little. It had the little wooden tray beneath it to hold all her multi-colored chalk and the mix of chalk-dust. She would set it up in the corner of her room and stand in front of it and teach. Teach who Her stuffed animals and dolls that were lined up on the floor in front of her.

Fast forward through high school and four years at CUNY where she acquired her degree in education. She took the necessary tests and got fingerprinted. She was almost there…almost teaching. “Wow…I’m going to be filthy rich!” she thought. No..actually she didn’t think that. NO ONE goes into teaching to for the income…they go into teaching for theoutcome.

It’s August and she gets the call that her interview at a local elementary school went well. Principal Higgins wants her to come in to fill an opening for a 5th grade position. Jennifer and her family of teachers are ecstatic. There is a feeling of euphoria when the custodian opens up the door to her classroom and drops the keys into her hand. The feeling is likened to finally moving out of home and getting your first apartment. What am I going to put up on those bare walls A Black Eyed Peas poster No, no ,no…that space is for a Word Wall.

Things started off a bit shaky, but Jennifer was able to manage and roll with the punches. Of course it involved a lot of papers scattered across her kitchen table every night and over the weekend. No overtime pay for that, but she did what she had to do.

Then…out of the blue….it happened. Without even realizing it, Jennifer crossed Principal Higgins and questioned her decisions. How did Jennifer do that Well at first Jennifer didn’t even know. Why, for three days straight, was Principal Higgins coming in to observe Jennifer’s class Yes, she is a new teacher and should be observed and supported. However, Principal Higgins was not even giving constructive criticism, but rather started berating Jennifer in front of her class. “Where are your rubrics” “Where is the rigor in your lesson” “You call this a bulletin board” Principal Higgins would ask while Jennifer was trying to teach.

What happened Why the change Well, apparently Jennifer went to the United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader to ask a question a few weeks back.

Jennifer: “Hey Ken (Chapter Leader)….Am I supposed to have four classes back to back without a break Morning extended day, homeroom, followed by four periods in a row leaves me several hours without even a chance to use the bathroom. I thought the contract said we shouldn’t. Also, I haven’t had the proper state mandated mentoring. What should I do

Ken: “Hmm…Let me check and get back to you.”

UFT Chapter Leader Ken did check. He checked the contract, spoke to his district rep and…had a sit down with Principal Higgins.

Too many periods in a row Is that what she said Oh and she wants more support I’ll give her support!” responded Principal Higgins.

Fast forward to a few unsatisfactory observations and a final unsatisfactory rating for Jennifer’s first year. Jennifer was devastated.

Then came the letter from the district superintendent:

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Dear Jennifer _______,

Principal Higgins has sent me your file. Upon careful review I will be making a decision to discontinue your probationary period with the NYC Department of Education effective one month from now. You may respond to me via a letter, no later than 5 days before my final decision.

Superintendent Clarkson

—————————–

Jennifer’s heart sank even more. She rounded up exemplary student work. Her mom and family of teachers jumped in to help save her. Parent wrote letters. Students wrote letters. Jennifer even ran to Staples to bind everything nice and neat.

It was all for naught. She was ultimately discontinued and her probationary period terminated. She was now red flagged in the DOE Human Resources system, added to the Ineligible List and assigned a “Problem Code” next to her name. This meant she could not even obtain a job in the Department of Education in another district or borough.

 

NYC Teacher Probation Denied

NYC Teacher Probation Denied

Now what Private school Charter school A school over in New Jersey Or just forget about teaching and work at the nearby store her cousin owns

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In the end it was another casualty and point for the Bloomberg/Klein attack on tenure and the teaching profession. Reduce average teacher salaries by having a revolving door of new and docile teachers. That’s one way to do it.

Jennifer’s story is not unique. I wish it was or totally made up. It’s actually a mix of several stories told to me by targeted teachers and their families.

I asked the UFT several times for the numbers of discontinued teachers. UFT employees Leroy Barr ($196,648)and Amy Arundel ($134,000/yr) would not respond or share, so I had to FOIL for the numbers myself.

Over 450 teachers, like Jennifer, have lost the ability to teach in NYC DOE in just the last two years. See below.

The BloomKlein plan: Extend probation again and again and prevent tenure. Even expensive tenured and veteran teachers were not out of reach. Enter the Special Commissioner of Investigation…the Office of Special Investigation, and the Office of Equal Opportunity with biased substantiated investigations to help document and prove that they should be discontinued or terminated.

The question now is: “Will Chancellor Faria direct Human Resources’ Office of Personnel Investigation to review the cases where the discontinuance was possibly arbitrary and capricious and so these teachers reapply”

Hope so.

You might also be interested in this story on DTOE.org

Young Teacher Maria Gomez Discontinued and Investigated After Asking for Assistance from her UFT Chapter Leader

About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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24 Comments

  1. WOW 450 teachers! What a tyrannical system! What about Article 87 Why hasn’t a class action lawsuit been filed. There is so much discrimination and bullying going on. Why hasn’t the state come in to investigate the burecratic system.There is a state contract on the state website that mentions specific details regarding how principals are to provide proper mentoringship to first year teachers. Has the state contract been thrown out of the window. Why are principals allowed to bully One principal in Brooklyn @ PS 269 is bullying her school aides. What about the UFT reps in many schools Many are not doing their jobs of representing teachers, instead they are just snitches…. when will this all end Alongside teachers there has been an attack on substitute teacher as welll. They are disrespected and underappreciated. We need change now!

  2. Great post in many respects but mostly for this:

    “I asked the UFT several times for the numbers of discontinued teachers. UFT employees Leroy Barr ($196,648) and Amy Arundel ($134,000/yr) would not respond or share, so I had to FOIL for the numbers myself.”

    FP: You’ve got FOILing down to a science. Might I suggest you give a how-to workshop on the subject We *all* should be doing this.

    The UFT doesn’t respond to you because the crew currently In charge doesn’t want people to know about this.

    ANY of it: the catastrophic personal implications of “discontinued” for the person discontinued; the scope of the problem; the arbitrary nature of most denials of tenure; the collusion of the union in the creation of the problem.

    Again: they don’t respond because they don’t want you to *know*.

    I wonder why.

    (BTW: are you sure of that figure: $196,648 That is an awful lot of shekels.)

  3. I was left so traumatized by those animals I can’t even re-tell my story…it’s a pathological system…nothing should be ‘unbelievable’…BELIEVE IT. Cognitive Dissonance is not your friend in this case…

  4. ThreeMoreYearsToGo

    I was discontinued in my third year by Ms. Jolanta Rohloff, then principal of Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to becoming a teacher at Lafayette, I had worked for a D75 school, and received “satisfactory” ratings.
    However, Ms. Rohloff relentlessly attacked me, systematically issued me unsatisfactory observations, and ensured that I didn’t get tenured.
    This was all under the Bloomberg administration. The UFT did not help at all in helping me to retain my job, though they represented me at a farcical hearing. At the hearing, the fact came out that my department head was now in a “rubber room” for altering Regents grades.
    Though I am still working for the NYCDOE at another school, and have obtained tenure, I can’t forget the viciousness and hypocrisy that was exhibited by the people that represented the NYCDOE, and the fact that the union, which took my dues for three years, could do nothing to reverse the decision of Jolanta Rohloff, considered to be one of the worst principals that ever came out of the Leadership Academy.
    Michael Mulgrew speaks about why so many people leave the DOE to work in the suburbs. Is it any wonder why, given how teachers are treated in NYC public schools

    • Tiredoftheb**ls**t

      How did you get rehired I was discontinued at the end of the 2011-12 due to bogus OSI investigations by the principal and OSI, which were later found unsubstantiated. Had problems trying to get a job, even after I was “HIRED” by a principal that same summer, after I was interviewed and informed the principal about being discontinued in a different district.

  5. ThreeMoreYearsToGo

    I’ve also read in other blogs that the tone of the NYCDOE should be changing now that Emperor Michael is gone.
    Sad to say, that doesn’t seem to be the case, even with our new “progressive” Mayor, and his “experienced” Chancellor.
    Very sad, considering that these people speak about education and uplifting people in glowing tones, but don’t practice what they preach with their employees.

  6. Pingback: An Open Letter to Chancellor Faria from a Discontinued Teacher | Educator Fights Back

  7. I had a similar situation to Jennifer’s: received 3 U’s in 2 days. Of the 3 U’s, 2 were given to me the same day, 1 the next. Of the 3, 2 were from the principal, 1 was from the a. principal. I lost my hearing, which took place 6 years ago, and am now on a ‘no hire’ list. By the way, I went to DOE schools, from K-12, attended CUNY [for undergrad and grad education]. So, the same kids they claim to so cherish they consider so much trash to be professionally destroyed [when they’ve returned to the system to teach].

    • It’s devastating…devastating…we’re working to fix this the best way we can.

      • About my situation, I have accepted it and moved on. I just feel horrible for the current generation of new teachers or teachers-in-training, spending thousands on academic and professional credentials that will get them nowhere. They will be used as canon fodder for politicians and bureaucrats, seeking to energize support for their anti-teacher policies. As I am sure have you, I have tried telling people new to education to do something else, that the climate in education is one punitive towards teachers, but you have to be in the classroom, I guess, to know how the DOE, while claiming to want to work with and help us, uniquely plays teachers.

  8. Saddened By The System

    I was discontinued back in 2009 and it was and has been horrible. My Principal told flat out lies and what was even worse, my “Union Rep” helped her. It was the weirdest and craziest situation I’ve ever experienced. The fact that I proved to the Superintendent that my Principal was telling bold faced lies didn’t even make a difference. After conducting the Appeals Hearing, even the Hearing Officer at DOE, after the tape stopped recording, told me he could tell I was a good person and he apologized but this was how the system worked. Thank God for Charter Schools because without them I wouldn’t be able to teach at all. It’s amazing and sad that Principals can get away with murder and nothing happens to them, yet a good teacher with good test scores can get canned and no one even tries to help.

    • When you were hired by the charter school what did you say to them I’m in the process of being hired by a charter. I accepted the position, but I haven’t gotten to fill out any paperwork. I know my principal is pursuing the discontinue. But I have not received a letter. Should I be transparent and tell them he is doing this to me, but it has not gone through yet and a position was already offered beforehand

  9. Any chance you could help me get started on figuring how this is done in GA
    It’s the Wild West (South) here and I am in the middle of the EEOC investigation resulting from my complaint against my former AP (and principal who covered up for him with his attempt to make me “go away”) who used every possible dirty trick in the book to get rid of me to appease a disturbed colleague who resented my (completely unaware!) rejection of her “you and I secret club”. The stuff is this guy made up and, or claimed is unreal: he would not stop in front of anything nor back down when advised he was stepping on a live grenade if he insisted on failing me in the nth eval b/c the the way I turn my head slightly to the left to facilitate hearing (I have unilateral hearing loss and wear the non implanted version of a BAHA to mitigate my deficit) constitutes poor classroom management and lack of professionalism. Yeah, he was running low on “legit lies” (oxymoron!): I had 11 evals in 9 weeks-one week, I had 2 different evaluators back to back on one day and a third one the following day).
    Anyhow,
    Any suggestions on how to start this is most welcome!
    My email is elliethebuggATgmailDOTcom
    Thanks,
    ECC

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