“Difficult to Work with” -The Grievance Game

If a union member believes that their contract has been violated, they can follow grievance procedures for a remedy. (That is of course after you first ask nicely. Asking nicely has not been working me.) Back in March I asked, nicely, for Principal Linda Hill and her group to stop trying to divide my chapter and engage in union busting activities. It didn’t work. We tried a Step 1 Grievance which she denied. We then went to Manhattan to, the now all too familiar, Office of Labor Relations at Chambers Street. As you can read in this post they were nice enough to leave out the proof I gave them and denied it there as well. So as I write this, Principal Hill and her administrators continue to union bust at IS 49. They tried to use phrases like “Watch who your friends are.”, and “Don’t talk to him.” The phrase “Stay away from the Teacher’s Lounge” is a standard at all interviews. I myself heard it in 2007. They also host gatherings the same time the staff does and take members to their gathering like high school bullies would for a party.

In any case, I filed another grievance in May to place me back in Staten Island from Ozone Park. There too the lies continued. DOE officials made up stories about my behavior at the Petrides Center. I have sent emails to officials at Petrides and asked them to furnish proof as well as to Andrew Gordon HR Connect Director. NO RESPONSE. I told them “Let’s have a disciplinary hearing so I can face my accusers.” NO RESPONSE.

Over a month later I finally received the decision by Gary Laveman.Portelos Reassignment Step I Decision-06152012160554 – Copy_Redacted

Again, in black and white, the lies are stated in writing. Read the above link for yourself and then see the email communication I had with my supervisor at Petrides, who had no idea about this “poor behavior“.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From:Francesco Portelos<fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, May 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Subject: Disciplinary Hearing for Petrides
To: —————-

Greetings Ms. ———,

I hope all is well. Last week, during a Step 1 Grievance at 51 Chambers St, Mr. Gary Laveman stated that I was moved from under your supervision at Petrides due to my “poor behavior“. He stated I was “opposite of cordial“, “insubordinate“, and that in the 2.5 days I was there I “could not be controlled“. He also stated that instead of taking lunch during my assigned time that I was found to be walking around “the ball field“. I was pretty sure he had the wrong file, but he assured us that these allegations were about me and they came from Andrew Gordon, Executive Director HR Connect. I’m asking that we clear this up. Mr. Laveman indicated that if we want this documented then we could do so and it can lead to disciplinary letters in my file. If that is what needs to happen, then so be it. I have the right to due process and as it stands right now Chancellor’s Regulation C-770 is being violated by keeping me out of my district. Can you shed some light on this as I remember you and I had a very short and very cordial relationship while you were my supervisor. Thank you.

-Francesco Portelos



Supervisor’s Response (I redacted her name. She was a very nice woman the 1.5 days I knew her):

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: ——-
Date: Mon, May 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM
Subject: RE: Disciplinary Hearing for Petrides
To: Francesco Portelos
Cc: epietromonaco@uft.org, srotkowitz@uft.org, Bryan Glass <bg@glasskrakower.com>, Gordon Andrew <AGordon13@schools.nyc.gov>

Hello Mr. Portelos,

Please be advised that I was not involved in your reassignment to Queens. I received an email indicating that you were being reassigned to your Cluster and provided you with a copy of that reassignment letter.

Thank you.


Wait!!!! It gets better. Now that the Step 1 Grievance was denied at Office of Labor Relations, we, the union and I, go back for Step 2. Another shot in the same office. This time, however, it doesn’t get decided by Gary Laveman, but instead his colleague, Stanley Fogel. Yes, we have to meet and wait another month (Summer probably doesn’t count) to get denied by a guy who sits at an office next to the first guy who denied me. WAIT… It gets better than that. Stanley Fogel was at my Step 2 Grievance in March and represented Principal Hill against my union busting allegations. Wonder what he will decide.

If I ever get terminated as a teacher, I want to work at OLR. I bet you they roll on the floor laughing as they practice their skits.

“OK, this time I want to be the hearing officer and you be the admin rep.”

“No…I was the rep last time! I want to be the hearing officer.”

“OK, but let’s see how long it takes you to issue a decision. The record is 60 days…Can you beat that”

The joke in the end is still on the children, unfortunately. The fight continues…

Update October 6, 2012: OnSeptember20, 2012, we went back in for this Step 2 Grievance. To summarize, my union rep and I exclaimed that the DOE was again violating Chancellor’s Regulations C-770. Gary Laveman, the admin rep this time, turns and says something like “Mr. Portelos was removed because of very serious allegations. He then could not behave at Petrides. He could sit and read the newspaper, but instead he wandered the complex and was sent to Ozone Park so they can keep a better eye on him.“OKLet me get this right. At Petrides I was one room away from my supervisor, who wrote the email above, and at Ozone Park I was placedthree floors below my supervisor. Later on I was placed in a conference room, alone, one floor below. There are times where I do not see my supervisor for weeks. See here for recordings of live streamedvideoof a “Rubber Room thatdoesn’texist”http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25936169.

When my rep and I tried to counter with the ridiculous allegations, the Chancellor’s rep, Alan Lichenstein, did not want to hear them. I told them the allegations were false and I am still waiting, months later, for the proof that I was “difficult to work with”. (ConniePankratz, DOE Spokesperson)

About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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  1. How come my parents never told me about how great it would be to work for the Board of Education. I would not have needed a brain.

  2. Thank you for exposing what “due process” really means. You will find that the DOE and the investigative units have no desire to get to the truth. It is all about going after the teacher. They will pile on the charges, ask you to resign, then begin to negotiate a fine of $5000-$10,000. The union plays the game and watches its member get beat up all along the process. In the end, you may get a tiny bit of justice in front of an arbitrator, but mostly likely that will only come from using a private attorney and the court system.

  3. We don’t have a Union in SC. seems to me yours isn’t doing such a great job. Get a real lawyer

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