SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL

Monday, September 26, 2022

EXCLUSIVE!! FIRST TIME PUBLICLY! Civil Complaint Against District 7 Superintendent Roberto Padilla

Back on July 3, 2022, I introduced to those who read this blog the new
superintendent and overlord of District 7, Roberto Padilla. Just last week, the rather "everything the DOE does is good" New York Post ran this story . The Post was inquiring on why a man with such a checkered past was hired as a superintendent. Soon, The Crack Team got cracking. 

The Crack Team at SBSB has received a copy of the complaint filed against new District 7 superintendent Roberto Padilla and the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. Click this link to read the entire complaint. 

But some highlights, or rather, the lowlights, of the complaint will be shared and deciphered here. But let's set the scene from the complaint...

In or about early June 2021, Defendant Padilla sent out a District wide announcement encouraging all administrators and teachers to attend ASU+GSV Summit (the "Conference"), scheduled for August 9 to 11, 2021 in San Diego. In an email from Defendant Padilla's office to the District advertising the Conference, it was described as, "one of the premier learning summits in the country," stating that applications were handled on a first come, first served basis. Plaintiffs separately submitted an interest form, each explaining how the Conference aligned with their school's goals and instructional focus, and why their attendance would add value to Newburgh.
So let's get this straight. The poverty level in Newburgh is at or below 84.5 percent. There is practically no tax base in Newburgh. Yet, a conference in sunny, oceanfront San Diego is a priority? This reminds me of how in the 90's District 7 went to some conference in Hawaii. 
Plaintiffs both were selected to attend the Conference, and submitted the conference costs of $3,000 which were covered by Newburgh, through their budgets. 32. Upon information and belief, approximately seven (7) District employees attended the Conference. Some of those who attended were also old friends of Defendant Padilla. 33. Upon information and belief, most of the Newburgh attendees stayed at the hotel designated for the Conference, the Marriott Marquis hotel, while Defendant Padilla stayed at a different hotel
Three thousand times 7 people attending is $21k. Did that include meals and the stay at the exclusive Marriott Marquis

But here comes something strange...
Plaintiffs received very little communication from Newburgh about what they could expect at the Conference, and the objectives of their attendance for Newburgh. There was no orientation for the Newburgh attendees, and no conversation about how to make the most out of their attendance by, for example, planning who would attend which of the over forty (40) daily events offered at the Conference. Plaintiffs were discouraged by the lack of interest in the Conference demonstrated by Defendant Padilla before and during the event
Was this a true trip for educational purposes or was it just an excuse to spend other people's money and/or do some skirt chasing? 
The night of August 8th, Plaintiffs arrived at a Brazilian steakhouse in San Diego's Gas Light District asking for "AJ," since Defendant Padilla told them the reservation was under that name. At the restaurant, Plaintiffs were surprised to find that "AJ" was the CEO of Innovare, an Ed Tech company that named Defendant Padilla to its Advisory Board in March 2021, and was planning to work with the District. Plaintiffs were confused that Innovare was hosting their group for dinner, and did not understand what connection Innovare had to Newburgh. It appeared as though Defendant Padilla had a close relationship with the Company, but no explanation was provided to the Newburgh group about Innovare's offerings, or why they were being taken to dinner by the Company
Innovare is an app that according to its website, "empowers education leaders to make data-driven decisions that positively impact students and communities." "AJ" is Adrian DeLeon, founder and CEO of Innovare. 

Several takeaways here. Should Roberto Padilla be on an advisory board that the Newburgh schools might be doing business with? And who paid for this dinner? If it was AJ is this permissible under NYS law? And if there were to be some business done between Innovare and Newburgh would it not be more feasible and ethical for Innovare to come to Newburgh? AJ could have splurged at the Denny's on Route 300 instead of the big bucks at the steakhouse. 
The following night, August 9, 2021, the Newburgh attendees gathered at a restaurant where Defendant Padilla had told them to meet. Once there, they were surprised to find that this dinner was sponsored by Rethink Ed, another Ed Tech company. 44. Diana Frezza, an Executive Vice President at Rethink Ed, was ordering food and buckets of sangria for the Newburgh team. Plaintiffs engaged her in conversation and learned who she was, but not why Newburgh was being taken out to dinner. At the end of the dinner, Plaintiffs returned to their hotel.
Drinking with subordinates is never a good idea. People can get stupid. 

So let's turn our attention to some of the proclivities that Roberto Padilla has with women. 
XXXX was sitting on a couch alone when Defendant Padilla sat down right next to her, despite there being other seats available. Defendant Padilla sat on her right side, putting his arm around XXXX, and rubbing his knee against her knee. Padilla had been drinking whiskey cocktails throughout the evening. He appeared intoxicated and was touching her inappropriately. XXXX felt uncomfortable and scared. 
Not cool. One is a supervisor, the other person, a subordinate. Fraternizing with your subordinates is not good and if it has to happen being infused with alcohol is not a good idea. And geez, what is wrong with just having a beer or two? 
Defendant Padilla appeared to grow increasingly intoxicated as the evening continued. Defendant Padilla began commenting on the couple (a male and female) romantically sitting on the couch across from them, stating "we're going to be sociologists." Padilla commented that he and XXXXX were "cock blocking" the couple, meaning their presence was preventing the couple from engaging in sexual activity. Padilla then went on to make sexually explicit noises, orating "a little radio show," creating his own description of the couple's public displays of affection. Padilla then began hypothesizing as to the likelihood that the man would "get lucky" that night.
Defendant Padilla scooted his body towards the front of the couch so his foot was touching Plaintiff XXXXXX's foot. Defendant Padilla then began running his foot across Plaintiff XXXXXX's foot. Plaintiff XXXXXXs legs were crossed at the knee, and Defendant Padilla kicked her foot which made her legs uncross. Plaintiff XXXXXXwas aghast, realizing that her boss was suggestively touching her. 

Defendant Padilla then started talking about XXXXX's tattoo, and he touched her back, slowly tracing his finger over the image of a bird that is part of the tattoo, commenting on the birds "big red ass." 56. XXXX was horrified by Defendant Padilla's comment and by his inappropriate touching of her back. The bottom of the bird in XXXXX's tattoo was not visible, and the bird is dark grey, not red.
And this is the man that is to lead the students, the community, and the teachers of District 7? A man that has no qualms about acting inappropriately with female subordinates. A man who can not control his drinking? A man that appears to have no ethical standards either with subordinates or companies that Newburgh schools do business with? 

Can the the stakeholders of District 7 expect the kind of hijinks that Roberto Padilla exhibited in San Diego? My son is in a frat and everything I just read in the complaint seems right out of a frat house full of twenty somethings. 

District 7 deserves way better. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Bullshit Meter

 So last when I blogged I shared how I got written up, with a week left in the school year, for telling a student that I will call home. Today I would like to share the contents of the letter to file I received from Numero Uno. Please be sure you are sitting whilst reading. 

I conclude that you exercised poor judgement in responding to the situation. Specifically, you did not make an attempt to address the female student's discomfort with your proximity.

As I wrote on  July 31...

Immediately the student talked to me as if I were the child. "Move away from me," "I don't want you behind me." For some dumb reason I assumed I am the teacher and the student is a student. I decided not to move due to the belief that once I walked away the student would revert to using the time for socializing instead of classwork. 

However, I wonder if I was part of the favored gentry or a boxer if this would be a problem. 

The letter continues...

Additionally, as an intimidation tactic, you publicly announced to call the student's mother potentially causing her embarrassment.

Intimidation tactic? Anything negative we say to a student can be called an intimidation tactic."I'm changing your PBIS card." "You can't go outside for lunch." "You are on timeout." 

And it goes on...

You are reminded of your obligation to maintain an environment of rapport throughout our school community. Please be advised that this incident may lead to further disciplinary action including termination of your employment.

Blah, blah, blah.

Fuck it. The letter went to my file as an excuse to get rid of me. I get it. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Calling Home Can Be Career Ending

 On or about June 13, 2022, I received a 48 hour notice to meet with my principal concerning..."VERBAL ABUSE." For several days I wrecked my brain trying to figure out what I could have said. My erstwhile chapter leader assured me not to worry. That if this were real verbal abuse OSI would be taking the lead. 

So we finally meet and I find out what I am being accused of. Before I continue be sure you are sitting down and/or holding onto a loved one. This will be quite shocking to the system. 

I was accused of telling the student that I will call her mother. This shit cannot be made up. 

I told the student I would call the student's mother. Oh the humanity.

All this happened on May 5, 2022. It was a sixth grade class. The students were doing independent work, and I was doing what any teacher would do. I was walking around helping and supporting students. However, this one particular student was not doing the work assigned and instead using the class time as a social gathering with students sitting nearby. 

I decided that since I am the educator and the adult I would do what I learned many years ago. Non-verbal communication. I just walked over and stood behind the student to facilitate the student getting back to work and to end the socializing. 

Immediately the student talked to me as if I were the child. "Move away from me," "I don't want you behind me." For some dumb reason I assumed I am the teacher and the student is a student. I decided not to move due to the belief that once I walked away the student would revert to using the time for socializing instead of classwork. 

The attitude continued. I said if this continues I will call home. Something I have heard and seen in the school all year. Even by the favored gentry. Even the Heavyweight Champion of the school. 

So the meeting was on a Thursday. I wrote this piece on June 19, 2022. Two days later, June 21, 2022 as I was leaving at 2:40 PM EDT I was asked by a secretary (who felt horrible) to sign a letter to my file. I said that I have to get to my per session position and wished to go over the letter with my chapter leader (She was not in that day). I also mentioned I have 24 hours (I could be wrong) and will take care of this matter the following day. 

The very next morning I get called in to meet with Numero Uno. Numero Uno admonishes me for refusing to sign. I never refused to sign I told Numero Uno. I just wished for time to digest and take in the letter (I did make a photo copy). I did bring up that in the letter Numero Uno wrote that I was trying to "intimidate" the student. SMFH!

Have you ever read Chancellor's Regulation A-421? It is so vaguely written that anything can be considered verbal abuse. 

A. Verbal abuse1 is defined as language (written2 or oral) about or directed toward students, that: 

1. Belittles, embarrasses or subjects students to ridicule; or 

2. Has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance or ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program, school-sponsored activity or any other aspect of a student’s education; or 

3. Has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being; or 

4.Reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his/her physical safety; or

5. Reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student.

Where is the line drawn? What happens if I'm talking to a student about baseball? The student tells me they are a Mets fan and I say I am a Yankees fan? Or that the Yankees have owned the Mets for years in New York. Could I be written up?

Can a teacher be written up for telling one student that he or she needs to improve? Or by telling a student that their behavior will keep them in at gym?

What of using ClassDojo? What of any in class behavior chart? 

Funny how Numero Uno decided to write me up while my return to the school was up in the air. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Meet the New District 7 Overlord and Superintendent

Change is in the air. A new superintendent is coming to District 7. Gone is Robert Alvarez as he moves to take the reins in District 15. I had not had much contact with him but the time that I did he came across as an honorable and respectful gentleman. I know of one former SBSB groupie that will miss him. This former groupie as no patron left. 

Who is replacing him? One would say someone with an impeccable record. One who has no baggage, no proclivities towards lascivious behavior. Remember. This is the district that in the nineties went on educational trips to Honolulu and Las Vegas. 

The pick for Superintendent is Roberto Padilla, formerly superintendent of the Newburgh City Schools. Padilla though has some issues. He has been accused of inappropriate touching of several female staff members on an excursion in San Diego in August of 2021. 

According to the Albany Times Union, Padilla was suspended on August 20 of that year and eventually resigned on December 23, 2021.Padilla stayed on payroll with benefits for two years. 

What is Padilla accused of? As reported by Chalkbeat, two Newburgh City school employees claim that Padilla; 

Padilla greeted one female staffer with an extended hug, wrapping his arms tightly around her body, the lawsuit said. 

Later that evening, he sat next to her, put his arms around her, and rubbed his knees against hers. According to the lawsuit, he then started describing a couple sitting across from them who were showing public displays of affection. 

Padilla made sexually explicit noises, the suit said, and he hypothesized whether or not the man would “get lucky” that night. 

“Padilla commented that he and Walsh were ‘cock blocking’ the couple, meaning their presence was preventing the couple from engaging in sexual activity,” the lawsuit stated.

 Later that evening, when a co-worker mentioned a staffer's bird tattoo, “[Padilla] touched her back, slowly touching his finger over the image of a bird that is part of the tattoo, commenting on the bird’s “big red ass.” The bird is dark gray, not red. The staffer was wearing a red dress, the lawsuit stated. 

At another point during the same evening, Padilla sat across from one of the women and started to run his foot across the woman's foot, the lawsuit said. When she moved away, Padilla smiled. 

Soon after that, Padilla was at the bar while the woman was heading to the bathroom when he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her close to him, making their bodies touch. When the woman was about to leave the bar, Padilla said to her “you can’t leave without giving me a hug.” 

On their walk back to the hotel, Padilla insisted the woman ride a Lyft scooter with him. Imagine a teacher doing this during a conference, or even a round of drinks after work? There would be an epic shit storm. 

But wait! There is more! 

Independent investigator Louis Patack found that Padilla sexually harassed one of the women in violation of New York law, according to court documents. A second investigator, Melinda Gordon, was hired to investigate the other woman's complaint, and she found that Padilla appeared to violate federal Title IX law. The findings by the investigators were never publicly released, but the lawyers representing the women obtained heavily redacted copies after filing public records requests, according to their attorney Alex Berke. 

And that is not all. Seems that Padilla is a little shaky as has been under investigation in the past, not too soon after he won Superintendent of the Year... 

...in spite of a 2019 Orange County grand jury investigation that looked into student attendance, athletics eligibility and the credit-recovery APEX program used by the Newburgh district. The grand jury found "systemic" failure in school district policies that included grade changing, manipulation of attendance records, and allowing student-athletes to participate in sports though their absences made them ineligible. 

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said at the time it represented a failure districtwide, "from the top down." No charges were brought against the district or any school officials as a result of the probe.

Seems a perfect fit, what with the grade changing, manipulation of attendance, etc..

This is the best Chancellor Banks can come up with? There were no other worthy applicants?Why does District 7 which is part of the poorest congressional district in the country get the worst of the worst? What example does Roberto Padilla set for the community, the teachers, and most importantly, the students of District 7? Is Padilla someone that we would want the children that we serve day in and day out to look up to? Of course not.

What is just as bad if not worse is the silence coming from 52 Broadway. Where again is Mile Mulgrew at being proactive and fighting for the community and UFT members of District 7? How is this acceptable? Yes, I know Mulgrew does not represent the community, but in a de facto sort of way he does. He is missing a chance to put the UFT and its overworked members in a positive light by defending the students. He is yet again showing that he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. 

Let's just say that maybe Padilla didn't do any of this stuff or that there is a gray area somewhere. (I'm not saying there is) He just has shown poor judgement by being in a place with underlings where alcohol is being served. 


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Shit That Can't Be Made Up: Part 3,456,900 (Will Corey Hart Write a Song About This?)

 I wish I could make this shit up. This is so inane. 

Last month there was a mass prep that I covered. It was a beautiful outside. What a gift for the students as well as the staff covering the prep. 

The sun was bright that morning as it was glistening off the artificial turf that afternoon. I wanted to be ready.

And I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
Keep track of the visions in my eyes

Thankfully, I was prepared. I had my sunglasses with me. I never had prescription sunglasses before. But I went on Zenni Optical and found a great pair with a retro look.

A kind of glamour
You can lend yourself
Like dark sunglasses

I left my regular glasses in a bag upstairs in a classroom. When the mass prep ended I walked back into the school, up the stairs and down the hall to retrieve my regular glasses. Let me let all in on something. The sun does not shine inside a school building. However, due to the fact that I can't see very good without either my glasses or my contact lenses I erred on the side of caution and left my sunglasses on. Ostensibly I did this for the sole reason not to walk into a wall, to walk into or on a student, and basically to see where I was going. 

And I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
See the light that's right before my eyes
 
As I am walking down the hall to the classroom where my glasses are awaiting me the nouveau junior administrator sees me and proclaims authoritatively ...
"Mr Zucker, teachers are not allowed to wear sunglasses inside."

She cuts my security
Has she got control of me?
 
I promptly replied that I was on my way to the classroom to get my glasses. Ten seconds after I gave that response I thought of a better. I should have immediately removed the sunglasses and walked face first into the wall. 

"But Pete," one reading this blog might ask, "Maybe she did not know that those sunglasses were prescription or that you were outside on a mass prep."

Yes, that is a lucid plausible argument to be made. However, I wear glasses every day so therefore should not one be able to infer that the sunglasses are prescription? Besides, if you are the nouveau junior administrator you should know when mass preps are scheduled. 
 
The Crack Team was quickly assembled and assigned to research Chancellor's Regs. The Crack Team unable to come across any regulation stating that teachers are forbidden from wearing sunglasses inside any NYC DOE building or property. The Crack Team also checked NYS DOE regulations and came up empty. 
 
One would assume that with everything going on within the schools of the NYC DOE a teacher walking down the hall, wearing sunglasses after being outside in the sun, would be way, way down on the priority list. 
 
I cry to you
I wear my sunglasses at night in school
I wear my sunglasses
 

 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Comedy of So-Called Comity

 One more thing I want to add in regard to my most recent blog post of June 9. There is one thing I did not get off my chest. 

This accusation...

that I have bad mouthed colleagues since 2016 every spring due to "getting phone calls every April and May like clockwork" that I have besmirched a colleague I work with "yet again," 

Completely unfounded.  There is no there there. 

Now the person that made this accusation has deemed it upon themselves to determine that there is to be a certain comity amongst teachers. My accuser is time and time again implying how I personally am destroying the comity between teachers with this blog. But that begs the question. Why am I the one being shat upon? 

I sat though a 3020-a process in which colleagues of mine testified against me. Does this promote comity amongst teachers? Some of these teachers were at an invitation only happy hour four years ago. What about others within the district that have gone through the 3020-a process and have had teachers testify against them? One can say that goes against the standards are comity. Yet there is silence. 

What about chapter leaders that do the principal's bidding? Is it safe to assume one looks the other way at this non-comity issue?

I'm going to reiterate what I wrote on Thursday. We as teachers have enough anxiety worrying about the crap we get from the DOE day in and day out. But in a weird way, it is to be expected. What we should not expect nor tolerate? It's is being treated by those who we look towards to protect us and to act in our best behaving as the DOE. 

Sadly, it is all too often becoming the norm that the very people teachers are looking to comfort us, to fight for us,  and to protect us are seemingly turning against us. I'm not the only one in which this is happening. Teachers being attacked and screamed at on the street for exercising their rights. Teachers verbally abused in bars. 

We know how to fight back against those that have it ingrained in the job description to do us bad. But how do we fight back against those who are there to protect us but literally are doing all they can to target specific teachers and doing us harm?

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Don't Be a Pinocchio

 I've wrote a couple of posts in the last month or so about liars and talking smack behind one's back.  In fact I shared about how SBSB super groupie Trixie and how someone went behind her back. I can empathize with her. I know the feeling. Due to a former groupie going behind my back. The feeling sucks. As the saying goes, "Say anything you want about me as long as it is true."

But that is small potatoes. 

We all have people that we put our trust in. To share things confidentially. A lawyer, a clergy person, a medical doctor, a therapist, a union representative. Those relationships and what is said are sacrosanct. 

So when somebody calls me misogynistic or claims that I have bad mouthed colleagues since 2016 every spring due to "getting phone calls every April and May like clockwork" that I have besmirched a colleague I work with "yet again," I feel I need to speak up. 

Let's take the first accusation. That I am misogynist. What would trigger such a person to claim that? This blog post from February of 2021. Read it. Yeah, I am snarky. I am sarcastic. One might even claim that I took God's name in vain. But I where was I misogynist? Please. If you make an accusation, OWN IT! PROVE IT! 

Let's move on. 

So apparently this person is "getting phone calls every April and May like clockwork." Again, where is the proof?  I come from a place where if one makes an accusation you back it up. 

I went back in the blog and checked out all blog posts from  2016-2022. Checking March, April and May of each year. Nothing. Here are links for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Check out March-April for each year. Or just look to the right -----> and check out the blog archive. 

I can't find one blog post in which I besmirched a teacher I had worked with. Yes, there are several blog posts about a former candidate for UFT President, but I neither taught with this person nor care what this person thinks. Even the blog post from February 2021 I just stated the facts. I didn't editorialize.

And guess what? I am not the only gadfly that this person has talked smacked and took their tongue and told fibs about. Is it a coincidence that this gadfly is Jewish? There can be a perception that this person telling lies and creating accusations might have anti-Jewish leanings.

We as teachers have to constantly live in fear and worry about being targeted by the DOE day after day. To have to live with those same feelings from someone that we put our trust in, look to for guidance, for empathy, to a shoulder have this happen damaging.