FOIL Friday – What Did the Principal Say About You Where is the Money

It’s FOIL Friday Everyone! I thought the title of the article would get your attention.

More and more UFT chapter leaders, parents and school members around the city are telling us that they are not being shown the budget as per Chancellor’s Regulation A-655. Yes, this is happening under the new NYC DOE administration as well.

Well.. FOIL it. I think every school should put in a FOIL request for the “SLT View” of their school’s budget.

Please see my updated guide on how to FOIL and appeal. Thank you to all those who taught me. You are my FOIL teachers. Now the student has become the teacher.

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FOIL

From Resources section of EducatorFightsBack.org:

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Imagine you can see the emails of the principal and assistant principal where you are mentioned. “If Ms. Smith wants to bring up the UFT, then let’s go observe her class. Maybe she will think twice next time.

Did you email the superintendent and never hear back Imagine you can see if they forwarded the email to others.

Do you believe the funds in your community school are being misappropriated Imagine you can see where the money is going and what the recent audit done on your school looks like.

Is your school low on material and professional development, yet your administrators are raking in per-session overtime Imagine you can see all their time cards.

Are incidents being swept under the rug Imagine you can access the reported numbers and compare to the ones collected by staff.

Are you asking to see the SLT View of the budget and your principal is giving you and other members the run around Do you want to see all the school’s expenditures

You can.. FOIL it.

I have acquired a name in the slammer (Rubber Room) -“Frankie the FOILer“. I was introduced to the power ofFreedom of Information Lawby some supporters back in March 2012. Since then I have submitted quite a few interesting F.O.I.L. requests to the NYC DOE FOIL unit. Examples:

  • All emails to and from my principal’s official school mail account with the word “Portelos” in the Subject or Body of the email from certain dates.
  • All emails to and from several top brass DOE employee’s email accounts with the word “Portelos” in the Subject or Body of the email from certain dates.
  • My principal’s school credit card statements for the last 5 years. Yes credit card purchases!Here they are by the way
  • My principals and assistant principal’s per session time cards for the last three years and per-session spreadsheet (this one should be sent back fairly quickly.)Here are some of the findings
  • Any SCI or OSI report that had my principal and two assistant principal’s mentioned as a subject or witness to an investigation in the past. They withhold them if they are unsubstantiated.
  • Any audit report conducted at my school the last 7 years. Here is what they sent
  • The entire DOE personnel file of several employees, like Greg Bowen (Deputy Network Leader of CFN 604, who lied about my behavior and had me sent 20 miles away for over a year.Here it is.) The personnel file of OSI Investigator Dennis Boyles (more about him later.Here it is.) Linda Hill personnel file FOILed Here it is.
  • School video surveillance footage for a specified location and date and time.
  • Arbitration and grievance decisions
  • A whole series of other records….

 

READY to FOIL HOW TO GUIDE:

  1. First you need to request documents that are from a public agency (NYC DOE, NYPD, NYSED etc) (Example: Your principal’s entire DOE personnel file, or the credit card statements from her school credit card (P-Card)). You need to be very specific as to reduce any delays. Give time constraints like From January 1, 2011 2007 – March 15, 2007. (The longer the period, the longer it might take to obtain)
  2. Next send an email to Records Officer
    ForNYC DOE:JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov, rchasan@schools.nyc.gov, foil@schools.nyc.gov
    ForNYS Ed Department:FOIL@mail.nysed.gov
  3. ForNYC SCI: aryan@nycsci.org
  4. Then enter the following in the body of the email:

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Dear Records Officer,

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, please send me copies, by email, of the following records:

[List What You Want.I would recommend breaking requests up into different emails for different searches]

I would appreciate a response within five business days of receipt as required by law.Thank you for your cooperation.
Sincerely,

Your Name

———-

4. Send!

Easy, right

Be prepared for delays though as they have a lot of FOIL requests. See Committee for Open Governmentcoog.govfor more info

If you keep receiving delays and you believe they are just stalling without good reason, you can appeal the “Constructive Denial” and send that to the person responsible for appeals. For NYC DOE send to Courtenaye Jackson-Chasecjackson-chase@schools.nyc.gov

Here is an example of an appeal email:

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From:Francesco Portelos<fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 3:53 PM
Subject: F9480 Appeal
To: Courtenaye Jackson-Chase <cjackson-chase@schools.nyc.gov>
Cc: JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov, FOIL <foil@schools.nyc.gov>

Good afternoon Ms. Jackson-Chase,

I’m appealing what appears to be the constructive denial of records pertaining to my request for personnel file copied below. The original request was from June 20, 2013.

Francesco Portelos

From: “Francesco Portelos” <fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Jun 20, 2013 6:38 PM
Subject: FOIL Greg Bowen
To: <JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov>, “FOIL” <foil@schools.nyc.gov>

Dear Mr. Baranello,

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, please send me copies by email of the following records:

1. The full DOE personnel file for Greg Bowen. Inclusive of any documents pertaining to him obtaining a position as Deputy Network Leader.

I would appreciate a response within five business days of receipt as required by law.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

-Francesco Portelos

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: “Ansari Semira” <SAnsari2@schools.nyc.gov>

Date: Dec 23, 2013 3:24 PM

Subject: F9480

To: “fportelos@gmail.com” <fportelos@gmail.com>

Cc: “Baranello Joseph” <JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov>, “Beaufils Natacha” <NBeaufils@schools.nyc.gov>, “Kang Michelle” <MKang@schools.nyc.gov>

Please find a letter in response to the above-referenced FOIL request.

Semira Ansari

Agency Attorney

Office of the General Counsel

NYC Department of Education

52 Chambers Street, Room 308

New York, New York 10007

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Now it may just so happen that they deny your appeal. If that is the case, then you can take them to court by filing an Article 78.The link for forms and instructions from the court’sHelp Center ishttp://www.nycourts.gov/courts/1jd/supctmanh/Self_Rep_Forms_Link.shtmlTo file anArticle78, follow the instructions forfiling a Notice of Petition (notan Order to Show Cause) in the booklet “How to Start a Special Proceeding.” The booklet is not organized well and jumps around. The forms you will needare an Index Number Purchase Sheet (available in the Help Center, Room 116 at 60 Centre Street) and a Request for Judicial Intervention (a fillable RJI is available athttp://www.nycourts.gov/forms/rji/UCS-840-fillable.pdf).

The best way to learn how to write a Notice of Petition andanArticle78petition is to go to SCROLL (Supreme Court RecordsOn-Line Library) and look at differentArticle78petitions, especially thosein which the DOE is the defendant. Technically the petition should just contain the facts and allegations with astated Cause ofAction, and the legal arguments should go in a Memorandum of Law. But I don’t think anybody cares with pro se litigants provided the arguments are clear, concise and organized. Google Scholar is great for researching case law.

Here is an example of one request, responses, findings and appeals:

1) FOIL Request #F8467 – Principal and AP’s Time Cards.

From: Francesco Portelos To: JBaranello3 Cc: MBest ; DMWalcott

Sent: Sat, Mar 24, 2012 9:24 am

Subject: FOIL REQUEST – Principal Timecards

Dear Mr. Baranello,

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, please send me copies by Email of the following records:

1) Principal Linda Hill’s (R049) time cards for all per-session activity from January 2009 to February 2012.

2) The periodic time sheets, or equivalent records, that were submitted to the Per Session Payroll Unit (or wherever they may have been submitted), and that reflect, or contain, the number of per session hours for which Principal Linda Hill had been paid during each reporting period from January 2009 to February 2012.

3) Assistant Principal Denise Diacomanolis’ (R049) time cards for all per-session activity from January 2009 to February 2012.

4) The periodic time sheets, or equivalent records, that were submitted to the Per Session Payroll Unit (or wherever they may have been submitted), and that reflect, or contain, the number of per session hours for which Assistant Principal Denise Diacomanolis had been paid during each reporting period from January 2009 to February 2012.

The time cards are probably located at IS 49 in Staten Island, and the periodic time sheets are probably located at both IS 49 and 65 Court Street.

I would appreciate a response within five business days of receipt as required by law.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Francesco Portelos

RESPONSES:

F8467 – 2012-03-26 – Acknowledgement Letter

F8467-2012-04-30-Further Time Needed Letter

F8467-2012-05-29- Partial Findings Letter

F8467-Principal Hill- records-Jan 2009 through May 2010

F8467-AP Diacomanolis records 2009-2010

F8467_2012-07-25-_Records 2010-2012 not found Letter

F8467 – 2012-09-10 – Appeal Determination

________________________________________

2) FOIL Request #F8535 – AP’s OSI Investigation Report for clocking in for Per-Session, leaving and being clocked out.

*Note: This request was made just 5 days before I was removed from school and sent to the Rubber Room.

From:Francesco Portelos<fportelos@gmail.com>

Date: Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 2:59 PMSubject: FOIL REQUEST – OSI Case for AP Denise Diacomanolis R049To: JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov, MBest@schools.nyc.gov, DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov

Dear Mr.Baranello,

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, please send me copies by Email of the following records:

 

1) OSI Investigation report as it pertains toAssistantPrincipal Denise Diacomanolis’ (R049) allegations of punching time card in, leaving the school premises and being punched out approximately 2 hours later in April of 2011.

 

I would appreciate a response within five business days of receipt as required by law.

 

Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely,

 

Francesco Portelos

 

RESPONSES:

F8535 – 2012-04-27 – AP OSI Denial letter-Request was denied because the investigation by the Office of Special Investigation (OSI) found it to be unsubstantiated. I was told the principal was asked and replied the AP was in the building. I’m nospecial investigator,but a quick glance at the archived video surveillance would have shown AP Diacomanolis walking out the Southeast exit and leaving with her car. Perhaps a more in depth investigation would have looked at possible EZ-Pass records for her car tag showing tolls paid. But what do I know I’m just an educator.

————————————————-

 

3) FOIL Request #F8658 -Principal Hill’s Procurement Card Statements & Emails with word “Portelos”

From:Francesco Portelos<fportelos@gmail.com>

Date: Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Subject: FOIL REQUEST –

To: JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov, rchasan@schools.nyc.gov, foil@schools.nyc.gov

 

Dear Mr.Baranello,Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, please send me copies by Email of the following records:

  1. All credit card statements for Principal Linda Hill’sProcurement Card (P-Card)from January 2007 to May 2012
  2. All email correspondence to and from Principal Linda Hill’slhill2@schools.nyc.govaccount. If this is not possible, then please provide me with the emails with the word “Portelos” in the subject and/or body of the email.

I would appreciate a response within five business days of receipt as required by law.Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely,

Francesco Portelos

Addendum:

Mr. Baranello,
I received the response to FOIL request F8658. I apologize. I thought I hadsubmittedatimeframefor theemails.
I have rewritten the request as follows:

All email correspondence to and from Principal Linda Hill’slhill2@schools.nyc.govaccount between and including December 1, 2011 to June 11, 2012. If this is not possible, then please provide me with theemailsin that timeframe with the word “Portelos” in the subject and/or body of the email.

-Francesco Portelos

 

Responses:

F8658-2012-06-11 Hill Financials and emails Ackn .Letter

F8658 -2012-08-07-Delay Letter

F8658 – 2012-09-05 – Delay letter

I FINALLY RECEIVED THE CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS. TAKE A LOOK AND SEE IF YOU FIND ANY POTENTIAL DISCREPANCIES.

 

 

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About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.

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6 Comments

  1. Love it! I was wondering when you were going to update the FOIL guide

  2. I sent a FOI request once, because the arbitration agreement required them to remove all the slanderous documents from my file, when I retired. I wanted to see my file… they never replied.
    Keep up the good work, Francesco… and do read the Diane Ravitch Blog… and write there!!!
    She needs to know who you are.

    • Thanks Susan. I’ve tried Diane several times. I met her once at her book signing. She knew of me from nyceducation email group. I’ll try. There are so many blogs out there. I try to get to them all.

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