SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Catlin Preston of Central Park East 1 is Exonerated!

Lots going on at CPE 1. Last week I mentioned how CL Marilyn Martinez was exonerated of all charges and now another teacher at her school, Catlin Preston, has been exonerated of all charges as well in his 3020-a case.

I can't yet go into details of what Catlin's case. Now is not the time.

This I can tell you. The charges against Catlin were bullshit. A sham. But Catlin got through it.

I spoke to Catlin on the phone back in January before his hearing started. Jia Lee had put me in touch with him and wanted me to share my experience, give advice, support, and whatever else I can give to him.

It's not that I needed to talk him down from the ceiling or anything, but of course he was anxious and apprehensive. I gave it to him straight. Best of all I gave him some coping skills (Which I think anyone going through a 3020-a hearing needs!).

It would be easy for anyone who has been in my situation to just have an agenda and project their own anger and fears onto someone. You know, have an agenda as some people do. But that would not have served Catlin or anyone in his situation any good.

Catlin needed the process demystified. I hope it helped. I think it helped.

But Catlin had someone better than me, or Jia, or MORE on his side. He had Jordan Harlow as an attorney. Then and now Catlin said that was the best money he had ever spent.

Catlin was fortunate as is any teacher in his situation to hire Jordan. Would things have turned out the same if Catlin hired someone else? Maybe. Maybe not. There are a lot of flim flam artists out there.

It's too bad that Catlin and his students were separated nearly 18 months.

FYI, Catlin is back at CPE 1 and the students and the community could not be luckier.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

You and Your 3020-a Attorney

First, Mozel Tov to Marilyn Martinez and an actual WIN (Yes, I know, if you keep your job it
is a type of win, but Marilyn's is a true win) in her 3020-a hearing. False charges were brought against Marilyn by her principal at  Central Park East 1, Monika Garg. Norm Scott, who time and time again is at the forefront and one of the few people that I know who put their money where his mouth (Norm does what he does for complete selfless reasons. He is a true Mensch! If there is one person other than a actual attorney I want in my corner it is Norm!) is in helping teachers has much more about the mishagas that has been going on at CPE 1 and with Marylin over at his Ednotes blog.

So Marylin I was told had herself a NYSUT attorney. This was shared with me and though that person forgot the attorney's name he was described to me. I'm 99% sure it was my first NYSUT attorney. I can't give his name, but for today we will call him Bruce Wayne.

I'll tell you this about Bruce Wayne. He was on top of me. He cared. He returned phone calls. He listened to my ideas. He got incredulous when I was to appear on Howard Stern's Howard 101Sirius channel. So incredulous he sent me a certified letter and called me several times begging me not to do the show (He was concerned that I would say something ungood or get into a fight with High Pitched Erik).

But Bruce Wayne passed the baton to, in my opinion, a great lawyer and this lawyer saved worked her butt off. Bruce would have worked his butt off too I am convinced. I know he did for other teachers. Bruce Wayne is damn good.

So what is the point I am trying to make? My point is that don't let anyone fool you when they say to watch out for all NYSUT attorneys. That they don't care, that they don't want to go to trial. That they want you to resign.

Yes, I am sure, I have heard of, and know of NYSUT lawyers that don't care, don't return phone calls or emails, aren't prepared, etc... And yes I have heard and and know of teachers who were screwed over by their NYSUT attorneys and I feel for these teachers. . But I believe in my heart of hearts that such NYSUT attorneys are the exception rather than the rule.

Any legal representative telling you will win your case, is doing you a great disservice and being unethical. Don't believe anyone who tells you that they will win or your case is easy. Any lawyer, or for that matter anyone, who does not share with you offers from the DOE lawyer is doing you a disservice and is being unethical.

Heck, my second lawyer told me that I was given offers to resign and all that, but never was I told that I must. I was given the pros and cons of each offer that was made. In fact I tried to see if I can resign but do it in 18 months so I can retire with 20 years in. I forget whether or not if that offer was accepted. But that was the state I was in. But as anyone knows who reads this blog or knows me I decided to go feet first into the 3020-a abyss and it was scary.

What saved me was that as good great as my lawyer is the one person that is my best advocate, and is anyone's best advocate, was myself. I was not a spectator in my 3020-a. I was involved. I was involved in organizing papers, researching, taking copious notes during my hearing, brainstorming (Even when my ideas were out of left field!), and letting others, such as Norm, help out as well. 

Yeah, I was suspended for 4 months and it sucked! But guess what? I could have been terminated and that would have sucked a whole lot more! For four months I delivered auto parts, at $9.75 an hour. I worked 60 hours a week. I did what I had to do. I learned a lot about myself during my two years in exile and during the suspension(I also learned what a rip-off the mark up at your local garage is on parts). If I had another arbitrator it is entirely possible I could have been terminated. There but for the grace of God.

The whole point of this post is to tell anyone going through the hell of a 3020-a hearing is to be your best advocate. Roll up your sleeves and jump in and be your NYSUT, or if you go outside NYSUT, attorney's partner. At your first meeting ask any question that pops into your mind. Demand to know your attorney's background, their law school, etc... Every question is relevant.

Do not accept lack of communication. Do not accept anything other than your attorney's best effort. Come across as strong. You will not be hated but rather respected. And if you feel you are getting nowhere with your NYSUT attorney, go up the chain of command.

And if you decide that you don't want a NYSUT attorney for your 3020-a, as is your right, contact Jordan Harlow (Read his reviews here) ASAP!! Here is his contact information.

Again, you will not go wrong with Jordan.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

90 Days of Portelos

This post is not an attempt at a reconciliation, nor am I looking for any gain. I just want to state what I feel. My opinion about something that happened to Francesco Portelos.

I have always felt that those who I have written about in what some might call a negative manner that if they do something right, or get screwed, I have no problem writing about them in a positive manner. I have done this with with Mulgrew, and I am sure I have done it with others.

To refresh. In June 2016 Portelos wrote a blog post outlining grade changing at DeWitt Clinton High School that seemed to be condoned, if not spearheaded by Principal Santiago Taveras. In June of 2016 Portelos posted copies of scores, grade changes, etc... I will not link directly to the page, just to the the UFT Solidarity site. Yes, names were redacted, but in my honest opinion not enough information was redacted. There was too much identifying clues,scores, teachers, etc... that if someone wanted to put real effort and roll u there sleeves a person can find out who is who.

I think he was wrong. I discussed this with a follow blogger and he agreed with me. But our conversation soon turned to what the DOE did.

To the best of my knowledge and from what I heard through the grapvine Portelos had a meeting with OSI concerning this breach if student records in or around October 2016. From the best of my knowledge he received a disciplinary letter concerning the incident in March of this year. Three months past the date of the meeting with OSI.

According to UFT Contract, Article 2, Section A, paragraph 1, it is stated....
However, an incident which has not been reduced to writing within three months of its occurrence, exclusive of the summer vacation period, may not later be added to the file...
This is grievable. This is wrong. I know exactly what this is like. In 2007 my principal wrote me up June for something that had occurred in January. We grieved it and before the hearing started the AP who came to the Chambers St told the hearing officer that they were not going to fight it. It was dismissed. My hunch tells me that the DOE did not want to set precedence.

This is winnable by Portelos. I heard he might go article 75, but I think he should grieve this. They screwed up and this is not winnable by DOE.

I might be missing some thing here and there in this post. I can be wrong about some thing. But 3 months is 3 months anyway you slice it.

But again, no student records or anything identifiable concerning students on a blog. I know another blogger who go a bit in hot water for this.

That's why when I write about students I give them Jewish names like Shlomo Rabinowitz. Avi Klein. What's the chance of a student in South Bronx having those names.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Teacher Puts His Faith in Betsy Combier

This is a true, sad, and disturbing story.

Whilst I was in the Rubber Room during the 2014-2015 school year there were three "inmates" in there facing 3020-a charges. I recommended Bryan Glass and Jordan Harlow to all three of them. I gave all three Bryan and Jordan's contact info and and two called.

The two that called had Jordan represent them in their hearings. Neither went to trial. Both settled their cases and both kept their jobs. Both went into the ATR pool, with one retiring about 10 months later.

The one who did not contact Jordan or Bryan decided to use a NYSUT attorney at first. He was offered a deal of a $6500 fine and becoming an ATR. He turned it down and the day before his hearing was to start fired the NYSUT attorney and took out a pension loan and hired a private attorney for $12k. After the first day of the hearing he was unhappy with the private attorney and subsequently fired him.

He decided to go pro se. And who was with him, assisting him the entire time at his hearing? Betsy Combier.

What was the outcome of this case? He was fined $7500 and became an ATR. That was in addition to the $12k he was out for retaining the private attorney.

Now, the entire time, from when he first met with his NYSUT attorney to when he went pro se he was in contact with Betsy. When I would talk to him about his NYSUT attorney he seemed to be parroting what Betsy has said to be concerning NYSUT attorneys "NYSUT attorneys are no good," "they are in bed with the DOE," and stuff like that. This seems to contradict a commenter in my post previous post who said (concerning Betsy);
...She seems to believe that NYSUT lawyers are best over private lawyers due the fact that NYSUT lawyers "know" all the players involved in 3020a hearings.
The Crack Team is plotzing over this contradiction.

But there is one more curious thing here.

When I asked my friend why he had not hired, or at least looked into Jordan, he responded with statements that seemed quite familiar...
"I heard that Bryan and Jordan are in bed with the DOE."
When I asked him where is his proof or who shared this with him there was no answer. He had never met with either Bryan or Jordan nor do I believe had contact with anyone, other than the other two Rubber Room "inmates" that hired Jordan, concerning Bryan and Jordan. I know for a fact that the other two once their cases were resolved and before they were released spoke glowingly of Jordan and both said it was "best money" they had ever spent.

For anyone to ever insinuate that Bryan Glass or Jordan Harlow are in bed with the NYCDOE goes beyond common decency. To make a comment like that without an iota of evidence is just plain wrong and irresponsible and downright unethical.

Oh, by the way, my friend also hired Betsy for his Article 75. Let's see how that goes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Teachers are ****** to Have Betsy Combier

I was in Epcot this past Friday, enjoying lunch in France with my family when lo and behold I heard a voice. This voice told me that I at one time was a fool. That I was conned. That I didn't see what I should've seen.

I edited this blog post from a post I had written back on May 16, 2016. Draw your own conclusions.


I first met Betsy Combier almost 10 years ago during my time in the RR during the time of Numb Nuts. I remember her showing up every now and then, placing her stuff down on a desk, sitting down, and watching a line form to see her as if people were lining up to get Mickey Mantle's autograph.

Betsy at the time was working for the UFT. She was the liaison, or something like that, for the people of the Rubber Room to the outside world. She was the friendly face, or more importantly, she was the only face that seemed to care.

With the changing of the guard at the UFT, soon Betsy was not employed by them. She was now a free agent. In my opinion this was a blessing for Betsy and the teachers she sought to help. Betsy was now a free agent. There was no stopping her now.

Betsy along with her blogs, NYC Rubber Room Reporter, and Parent Advocates, has been att the forefront of removing the sheath back over the mess that the NYCDOE has created over the years. Betsy has been, and still is, the leader in assuring those damaged by the NYCDOE that they will be heard and that their rights will not be trampled on.

I recall back in the summer of 2013 when I and several teachers in my school had our careers trampled on. I contacted Betsy to meet with us and without hesitation she did. We met at a diner on 2nd Ave and spent a couple of hours not only soaking in her knowledge of what we can do, but more importantly, having that sympathetic ear that we were missing for so long. This is what Betsy is about.

Betsy is about someone who will be with you and advocate for you from the very beginning to the very end. Betsy is about once her work is done with you will be a friend for life. Someone that you can call day or night when you have that feeling of helplessness and need someone that you can be assured will be there for you.

Betsy fights for you. She fights for us. Betsy is persistent, never gives up. When her path forward in fighting for a teacher is blocked that does not stop her at all. She dusts herself off, rolls her he sleeves and finds a new path to go down. Ceaselessly fighting and advocating until she gets the results that she wants, or better, demands.

I consider Betsy a true friend, a trusted friend. I'm not the only one that does. There are many she as helped. Many she has rescued from the abyss.

Betsy is a lifeline. When you are sinking, when you feel desperate, when you feel alone in your fight there is no one better than Betsy to have on your side.

Betsy has been there for many teachers and I hope she will continue to be there for us for many years to come. You can't go wrong with Betsy.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Portelos Back in Fantasy World

Oh Portelos is at it again, giving false hope from a false prophet clown.

On November 29, 2016 Portelos shared this post on memyselfandI,com giving the illusion that the arcane method of bulletin boards was about to be resolved. You know the rubrics, nice little motes on post-its, all that kind of fun stuff.

Sadly, and I can't blame teachers, especially those who do not know the truth about Portelos, that this is a light that is at the end of the tunnel. There is no resolution as of yet to this asinine bulletin board system.

Sadly, there are those that take the word of a scheister. Those that are desperate to feed into one's ego of self-aggrandizement. The truth is out there, and a modicum of truth does not even begin with Portelos.

The Crack Team came across this from several UFT members deep within 52 Broadway. There is no resolution on the bulletin boards. The UFT is confident that there shall be, but in the meantime we have to deal with the crappy system. For now.

Yes, the current evaluation system makes no mention of bulletin boards as something to be evaluated and/or observed. And yes, principals are sticking with this until otherwise noted make teachers city wide pull out their hair like Larry.

So when a teacher who in a state of distress and finds such an irresponsible, lack of substance blog post, of course they will lock on to it without knowing full well about the source of such a post.

As of today, April 5, 2017, nothing has changed. The UFT I have been assured is working on this bulletin board matter as we speak.

No yes, if a teacher does not do the bulletin board the suggested way and gets written up for it, that teacher can and should file a grievance post haste. But the problem, at least as we see it here at SBSB is that until a ruling comes down in favor of the UFT the problem is there is no iron clad agreement/precedence which in the opinion of The Crack Team will only harm the teacher more.

This is why I am going to lay my cards on the table and ask around about Portelos, ask about what Portelos has actually accomplished and like you would for a doctor who tells you need a procedure, get a 2nd and 3rd opinion, preferably from a grown up.

Sometimes adults can infuse help and reality. Remember, consider your sources.

If I am wrong with anything, or missed something, I will correct post-haste.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

UFT Breaks 45 Year Gentleman's Agreement Concerning NYSUT

For those who might have read my recent posts concerning the upcoming NYSUT elections and have interpreted my writings as an endorsement of Unity and not Stronger Together, well you are wrong.

Though I and The Crack Team disagree with ST's tactics, we here at SBSB hope that ST comes out victorious at the RA at the posh and quite expensive New York Hilton April 7-8.

But something reaks within the upcoming NYSUT election and the smell is permeating from Unity. Read on. Be patient.

Several sources reached out to The Crack Team and suggested that we read pages 67-8, and 114 from "Teachers United: The Rise of New York State United Teachers." We did.


Though we didn't read it all, we did read the pages that were suggested. We read how in 1972 Long Island assemblyman Charles Jerebek was attacking our profession. How the UFT, while quite powerful in NYC, was weak within the confines of Albany.

There was a lot of bad blood amongst the teachers unions of New York State. The UFT was aligned with the AFT, upstate with the NEA. Albert Shanker knew that to have clout in Albany the disparate parties must join together.

Shanker reached out to then Yonkers Federation of Teachers president Walter Tice. Shanker shared with Tice how the Albnay politicians played one group off of another. In unity (pardon the pun) there was strength. Not only will this reconciliation help NYC and upstate teachers unions, but help the thousands of fence sitters organize as well.

But, and this is what brings us to 2017, there was something more. Something that was never memorialized, something that was never put in writing, but initiated by Shanker.

There is (or maybe now WAS) a gentleman's agreement that a UFT member will never, ever run nor be president of NYSUT (Again, this is from several well qualified inner sanctum sources). Today in 2017, with the nomination of Andy Pallotta, that agreement as the same worth as a $3 bill.

Look back to the forming of NYSUT. There has never been someone from the UFT as president. Why is this year different? Why now?


Chances are, the way the election and it's process is stacked, the UFT/Unity backed candidate will win. Yes, Karen Magee was the pre-ordained UFT/Unity candidate but she showed to much independent thought (especially when it came to testing) that she was "promoted" and asked to go away. And besides, Karen was not a UFT member.

Could the UFT/Unity machine had selected someone other than a UFT member to run as president of NYSUT? Surely yes, but that would run the risk again of someone exhibiting independent thought. So what to do?

Violate the gentleman's agreement that Shanker made and insert someone you can control. Someone who will tow the party line. Someone who will ask permission first then speak.

Shanker must be rolling over in his grave right now.

With the shitstorm on the education horizon. what with HB-610, a rehearing of Friedrich's, Betsy DeVos, Trump, Cuomo, why the hell is UFT/Unity so tone deaf?? If they are so desperate to keep power isn't the easiest method to that end to work for the betterment of it's members instead of power grab after power grab? Aren't we a better union and able to serve our core constituents (our students) more appropriately when there are more voices and more ideas and coming together in a natural, organic method?