One of the charges I faced took place at the grading site for the 2013 ELA exams at PS/MS 83 in the Bronx. I had a run in with the principal of that school, Claudia Macek and her AP, Mary Lou Gorman. Both ladies played loose and fast with reality.
Now yes, I wasn't perfect. The first day of scoring, April 20, I was unable to come due to a Bar Mitzvah I had to be at. I had to leave an hour early another day and was late one other day.
Now having scored in the past I knew that this happened quite consistently with other teachers. Some days they couldn't make it, some days they were late or had to leave early. In fact, one teacher at my table in 2012 missed about 6 sessions and there were no repercussions.
But no one every said what the protocol was if you could not make it nor if you were late. And no one ever came across a person like Claudia Macek before.
Now the big charge I was nailed with was #9;
"Respondent acted unprofessionally and/or insubordinate in that he shouted at a supervisor, stating sum and substance, 'that Nazi, Eva Braun (Macek)' while referring to a another supervisor on April 25."Hmm, this is where reality is distorted.
That day I left the wonderful world of PS 154 early to head to White Plains to see my endocrinologist. I believe my appointment was at 2:30 or 2:45 which left me plenty of time to get to PS/MS 83 by 4 PM. I had never waited more than a few minutes to see the doctor and my time with her lasted usually no more than 15 minutes.
This time was different.
I had arrived early and waited and waited and waited. I must have waited about 45 minutes and didn't get out of there until 3:40 or there abouts. Knowing the turd storm that was awaiting me (Macek had already singles me out for having a Coke in my hand and once for looking at my cell phone while other tables had a kitchen cupboard in the middle and the supervisors table had deli sandwiches up the ying yang as well as their cell phones in front of them) I asked the doctor for a note. I really thought that would help.
I arrive at the school about 20 minutes late and as I am walking to the gym Macek confronts me in the hall. What happened to me then had never before happened in my years of teaching.
She laced such a tirade at me yelling at the top of her lungs in her gravely, smoke damaged voice. This right in front of people who were walking though the school building without any shame or care in the world, it was like she knew she could get away with it.
There I was taking it, knowing that if I fought back I was a dead man. I just kept asking her to "please speak to me in a professional manner," which seemed to infuriate her more.
But then it go worse.
Accuse me of being late, or not showing up at all, but don't call me a liar or a thief. She did.
In her shrieking that only she can she berated me for having plugged in my phone behind the supervisors table. She was like how dare you decide to just walk behind the table and do that.
Well, I did and I asked permission. I would not have done that without permission. I was told "sure, go ahead." She then asked me who gave me permission and sadly I had not been able to acquaint myself with all the names of the almost 300 people in the gym. I had no answer. But it was the truth.
Then, she accused me of stealing. I was accused of stealing a stapler. I told her repeatedly that I had done no such thing but she kept insisting. Even a week later when we met with my CL and her, she still was accusing me of the stapler theft.
She finally got winded and I tried showing her the note. She said not to show it to her, but to show it to the attendance supervisor, AP Mary Lou Gorman. As I place it on the table in front of her I said, while looking away from her;
"What is it with that woman (Macek)? She's like Eva Braun."Never screamed it, never said Nazi, no one else could have heard what I said other than Mary Lou in a gym full of 300 people.
Under direct testimony, Mary Lou claims;
"And he was very, very agitated that day and angry. And he threw down on the table a doctor's note and I asked him to take it back. Why he was angry at that point or why he was calling the principal names."
Why do you think I was agitated Mary Lou? Have you ever been screamed at and publicly embarrassed? Have you ever been accused of theft and deception? I'm not saying what I had said was right, but figure things out. I had been treated in the most unprofessional manner ever!
I should have just left that day. I should have said thank you I am done. I wish I had but then again, hindsight is 20/20.
Then it got weird. In the discipline letter I received a week later there was a log of everything, which Mary Lou had kept at the behest of Macek, I had done that day. What time I walked to the bathroom, what time I got up out of my seat (Even though there were time we were waiting 20 minutes for the next box of exams). Even when I an adult decided to get something to eat and only finding out later I had to ask permission.
At the end of the log the last thing written was;
"7:15: While sitting at the scoring table Mr Zucker put his hands behind his head."
Yep!!! I can't make this crap up!
Under direct testimony Macek testified;
"And then, at one point, he sat there with this arms behind his head like this, just sitting there. I don't know why. But that's what he did."The DOE lawyer then asked her;
"Now, when you say you observed him with his arms behind his head, approximately how many times did you observe that behavior?"To which Macek responded;
"Pretty often that day. I don't know if it was to get me to come over and say something or not. But I didn't."But under direct testimony Macek when asked about when and what she heard about what I had said testified;
"And he said to her I spoke to that Eva Braun. And she said who do you mean? He pointed to me. So, she told me about that, too."But Mary Lou says that I was screaming and using the word Nazi. I never did either.
I was 100% wrong to say that. I was frustrated. Not just at Macek but at how the entire year had been going. I apologized in the hearing and still to this day deny ever screaming or using the word Nazi.
But Macek slipped and she showed where her mind is at.
She slipped in contradicting what Mary Lou had claimed and she show that her mind is about herself, that she must be the focus of everything. To think for a moment that I am putting my hands behind my head to get her attention to come over the scoring table.
Both those response should have been a huge red flag for the arbitrator.
What should have been a red flag with Macek as well should be the way she contradicted Mary Lou and her obsession with where my hands are.
We here at SBSB have heard from sources at PS/MS 83 that indeed, Claudia Macek, when she was AP as well as principal, did have difficulty with the truth and the way she talked to staff. The way Macek talked to me was not in a vacuum, but it seems this is who she is.
In fact The Crack Team has heard a 3 minute audio tape of her raging at a teacher at the top of her lungs as the teacher stood up for his rights and then called upper echelon to report this teacher and spreading falsehoods.
I wouldn't put it past Macek that she was in cahoots with someone that week, someone who might have pre-planned to find me incompetent.