Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why Teachers Need Tenure. Part 1

With all the talk of the lawsuit Campbell Brown and her lackies Mona Davids and Sam Pirozzolo have brought forth, the reason to explain tenure has never been more important than ever.

This story came into the DTOE newsroom a few weeks ago., and posted on DTOE this past Tuesday. This is one of the most heinous examples of teacher abuse and abuse of power The Crack Team has heard of. In fact, Crack Team member Moose was so upset he was crying like a baby while sucking his thumb and calling for his mother.

This story, told from the teacher involved, has all the markings of what  the problem really lies in education. Not the teachers, but the ones in charge, the ones making the decisions.

The letter to follow (In it's entirety) was originally sent to High Schools Superintendent Donald Conyers. Donald was at the forefront of damage to this teacher (here and here).

Coincidentally, Conyers worked closely with DR Mychael Willon. He of the false PhD and the arrest for sexual deviancy in Wichita KS.

This teacher was a first year teacher, a Fellow and a cancer survivor. If she had tenure, would she, could she, have been discontinued?

Another story is coming soon, even more egregious.

Read on;

Several names have been redacted.
Donald Conyers

Brooklyn and Queens High School
6565 Flatlands Avenue, Room 104C
Brooklyn, New York 11236

Dear Mr. Conyers:

I am saddened that our first communication is under the given circumstances. However, I am elated by the fact that you have given me an opportunity to express my concerns to you at this time.  This year has been in fact quite challenging but has left me with the knowledge that there is no other field in which I would wish to find myself.  I never would have imagined how much I would have learned while teaching and I am grateful for each moment.

On July 5, 2014 I received a letter from your office stating that I was being reviewed for potential discontinuance. Frankly, given the year that I have faced I was not entirely surprised.  I offer you a chronology of the events in my year so that you can understand my perspective as best as possible.
I am licensed under the Transitional B Certification through the alternative program known as the New York City Teaching Fellows for Special Education for grades 7 through 12.  I was placed at the School for International Studies (i.e. 15k497) for my summer assignment.  During this time I sought employment while teaching summer school to a mixed group of middle school students.  Throughout the subsequent weeks, I made many connections with the students and built rapport.  By the second week I was being asked by the students to seek employment at the school.  In August, I was called in for an interview with the principal, Jillian Juman, and the head of the Special Education Department and Lead Teacher, Nicole Lanzillotto.  When offered the position I excitedly accepted and prepared for the upcoming school year.

On September 3, 2013 I received my rosters, classroom locations, and schedule.  I was told that I would be teaching 7th grade ICT English Language Arts, 8th grade ICT English Language Arts, 7th grade ICT Humanities, and Self-Contained English Language Arts/ Humanities.  When reviewing the rosters for my classes I found that my middle school self-contained class had fifteen students without a classroom paraprofessional (See Exhibit A).  Under the Special Education laws of New York State the class size should be of the following ratio: 12:1:1.  Of my fifteen students included on the roster, three of them were classified as alternate assessment (See Exhibit B) and the class was a conglomerate of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders of varying levels.  Further, I was placed in an AP Statistics classroom in the high school wing to teach self-contained, middle school English.
In October, I found myself struggling to direct the classroom and sought help from my Chapter Leader, Ms. R.  Upon explaining the dynamics of the classroom she informed me that the class should be no more than 12 unless a waiver was filed by the school for 13 and that that was the absolute maximum.  The following day, on my way to sign out, I was approached by both Ms. Juman and Ms. Lanzillotto who said to me, “Ms. R says you are unhappy”.  I explained to them that it was not that I was unhappy but that I felt that the students were not benefitting from the dynamics of the setting and that it was not conducive to a learning environment.  Further, it was illegal and violated Special Education regulations. Ms. Lanzillotto chimed in to state that the classroom dynamic was not in violation of Special Education regulations, despite my research having stated otherwise. Ms. Juman then informed me that she would be “fixing” the situation in time for the new semester when we would be facing program changes as an entire school.  She then asked if I would write a letter stating that I was comfortable with the arrangement of the roster as it stood and in good faith knew that it would only last until January.

Immediately after having completed the aforementioned conversation I sought the advice of Ms. R, who informed me that the conversation and request were inappropriate. After speaking to my mentor, Mr.  P, he reiterated the same sentiments as Ms. R and advised me against writing the letter.
When I realized the roster would not be changing to suit the needs of the students or the classroom environment I sought the help of Ms. Lanzillotto and asked her to visit my classroom.  On October 9, 2013 Ms. Lanzillotto sat in my classroom for about ten minutes prior to pulling out a student of mine, Student A.  On October 10, 2013 I received an email from Ms. Lanzillotto stating that Student A’s schedule would be changed effective immediately and that she had undergone a re-evaluation (See Exhibit C).  In this email exchange you will notice that the school’s Speech Language Pathologist questions when the re-evaluation had taken place, which was a question the rest of the department had, as well.  Student A was then placed into my ICT English Language Arts class, and she immediately began expressing her discomfort with the material that was being presented in the ICT setting.  She then asked to meet with me and expressed a request to be returned to a self-contained setting.  I advised her to speak to Ms. Lanzillotto regarding her concerns and encouraged her to advocate for herself.  By October 21, 2013 Ms. Lanzillotto informed the staff via email that Student A would in fact remain in Self-Contained Language Arts stating, “[This] is what Student A thinks is good for her right now”.

After I spoke to Ms. R about my concerns for Student A and other students, she approached Ms. Juman and asked why a more seasoned teacher had not been placed in the self-contained setting so that I may learn from my ICT partnerships.  Ms. Juman responded by saying, “[Ms. S] is sickly and cannot handle the pressures of a self-contained setting.” Ms. R then said that I also have health concerns which include Thyroid Cancer which required two surgeries and radiation and Lupus to which Ms. Juman responded, “yes, but, she’s younger”.  Therefore, it was simply assumed that because of my age I was better fit for the task instead of the veteran teacher with 24 years of teaching experience.

Shortly after the incident involving Student A, Ms. R began following up with Ms. Lanzillotto and Ms. Juman about the class size.  At this time they told her that they actually obtained a waiver for 13 students.  Ms. R asked to see this waiver and was given an application rather than a waiver which had not been granted. Ms. R reiterated that even with a waiver, 15 students was outside the regulations.  Ms. Lanzillotto and Ms. Juman then began asking me daily for my thoughts on which students were ready to be moved into the ICT setting.  Given the students’ reading, writing, and intellectual levels I disagreed that any of the students were ready for the change in setting.  A second concern regarding class size came to light when my roster for 9th period Intervention was released.

According to Special Education Law my roster size should have consisted of five students. Rather, I was given ten (See Exhibit D). On November 13, 2013 I sent an email to my mentor, Mr. P informing him of this placement being against regulation, to which he did not respond.  That same day I received an email from Mrs. Assante, the principal’s secretary asking that a weekly meeting be set with her (See Exhibit E).  I approached Mrs. Assante and she stated the nature of the meetings were to discuss my lesson plans and for Ms. Juman to collect the week’s worth each Monday.  Around this time I was observed twice a week and had met the minimum of six by November’s end, by January of 2014 I had reached a count of approximately 19.  After consulting with Ms. R she stated that ritualized collection of lesson plans was a violation of our contractual rights and advised me to send an email asking about the nature of these meetings.

My email of November 13, 2013 was ignored and the following day I received another email from Mrs. Assante dated November 14, 2013 requesting that I schedule the time for the meetings (See Exhibit E).  I responded by reiterating my initial concerns.  Later that day I was approached by Ms. Juman who stated to me, “Stacey thinks you are scared to meet with me”.  I explained to her that my feelings should never be inferred and that I merely wanted in writing the nature of these appointments especially given that they were recurring.  The following day I received a schedule for these meetings which would last from November until January.  In January I was told that my lesson plans finally reached the principal’s level of satisfaction (See Exhibit F) and she began to decrease the meetings and collection of lesson plans.  In the end I can say that forcing me to complete these lessons so far in advance and in such detail served to benefit my classroom in that I was planning ahead, however given the varying levels of advancement of the students made it useless and I felt uncomfortable with the manner in which it was done.

I was granted the day off for December 2, 2013 for a doctor appointment (See Exhibit G).  On this same date the Special Education Department met as a whole to discuss which students could potentially be moved out without consulting me.  I was emailed that day by Ms. Lanzillotto (See Exhibit G) asking for my input.  Given the inappropriate nature of this request I did not respond.  When I arrived at work the following day, December 3, 2013 a student, Student B, greeted me in the ICT setting.  Prior to Student B having been moved out of the self-contained setting Student C, a second candidate had been moved out, as well.  The program switch for Student C was in fact based on my recommendation since based on her IEP and according to her mother, she was placed in self-contained based on her emotional disturbance and not based on her intellectual ability.  Upon meeting Student C who came into our school for eighth grade, I determined that the curricula of my Self-Contained Language Arts and Humanities were causing her harm, that it was not challenging enough.  As of December 3, 2013 I had thirteen students on the roster.

Looking at Exhibit H, you will note that my seventh period Self-Contained Language Art’s roster was set at 13 and that by eighth period two students were sent to have Physical Education for the second time in the day so that my class size was at 11 for the end of the day. The executive decisions made by my Administration were not out of the best interest of the students and were in fear that I would file a grievance.  Given the constant observations, ritualized collection of my lesson plans, and lack of tenure I refrained from filing a grievance. Frankly, I was more concerned with meeting my students’ needs more than my own. The above mentioned lack of action on my part was also in good faith that the situation would be rectified.

An incident occurred on November 21, 2013 (See Exhibit I) in connection with my roster being too large in 9th period Intervention.  Two students attempted to touch me inappropriately and a third student in an attempt to defend me, slammed into my face.  This occurred after I had asked that my class size be readjusted.  In response to this matter, the Assistant Principal, Renato DaSilva instructed me to fill out a written statement with the dean, a Victim’s Report through UFT, and to email the details of the incident to the appropriate staff members.  The principal, Ms. Juman was not in that day and requested a meeting with me the following school day.  Ms. DaSilva approached me on November 22, 2013 during fourth period and asked that I meet with both Administrators for an impromptu meeting.

During this meeting Ms. Juman stated to me that I should have reconsidered teaching given that I am “pretty” and that incidences like the above are bound to happen. She continued to say that I should possibly stop wearing makeup so that I am less attractive.  She also stated, “[you] give students the wrong impression when you close the door of your classroom”.  She then asked what I thought would be an appropriate punishment given that the infraction was “small”.  She then suggested that I meet with the two young men along with Mr. DaSilva to discuss boundaries and that that would be punishment enough.  She then scolded me for filing a report with the Victim’s Unit and asked me why I had done so.  At this point, I made eye contact with Mr. DaSilva and remained silent until he described the actions he had taken the day before.  I was then told to leave so that she could discuss with Mr. DaSilva where he had misled me.  The students were never reprimanded but were supposedly taken out of my intervention.

On December 13, 2013 I received an updated list of the roster for Intervention with no visible changes having been made (See Exhibit J).  I attempted questioning the decision via email as you may note on page two of the email labeled “MS Roster Updates for Enrichment – MS Enrichment ONLY!” (Exhibit I)  My requests were ignored and on December 2, 2013 I received an email labeled Student D (See Exhibit K) where it was stated that Student D, one of the students involved in the November 21, 2013 incident would be moved into my ICT despite the fact that he did not have an IEP.  When I expressed my concern, Mr. P, my mentorresponded as follows, “Unfortunately, this decision was made last week by Administration.  We need to keep Student E and Student D separated for both their successes”.  Although I applaud the fact that my Administration has taken steps towards putting the needs of the students at the forefront, I do question where the support for assaulted teachers comes into consideration. At the end of December I had a discussion with Ms. Juman during which I asked if I could be released should I find another school.  Ms. Juman responded that she was not willing to do so and that she hired me and therefore would help me and attempt to alleviate the burdens I was feeling.  I expressed that I did not feel my job was secure while at this school and she reiterated her stance of hiring me and building me up.

In January, before the program changes occurred, the Special Education Department sat together and members were paid per session to amend all IEPs so that they matched the programs we offered but, did not meet the needs of our students.  I was told I would not be invited to the paid sessions by Ms. Lanzillotto given that, “you haven’t learned how to amend IEPs”.  This contributed to the lowered roster where I found I had eleven students for the new semester and under the new program. In doing the above mentioned, the needs of our students were compromised and ignored in order to be in accordance with the laws governing classroom sizes.

In January of 2014 I was given a classroom to design myself and had 11 students on my roster.  I thought my relationship with the principal had improved and my evaluations increasingly improved, as well (See Exhibit L).  In terms of my pedagogy I was told I had shown the most improvement out of any first year she had witnessed.  To improve my classroom environment I took steps in using research based Positive Behavior Supports (See Exhibit M).  I sought the advice of my professor from St. John’s University and together devised two Positive Behavior Supports.  The first is known as “Secret Student”.  During this time I pull at random the name of a student and follow his or her behavior throughout the class.  At any given time I may say, “I’m looking for my secret student!  I wonder if s/he is on task” and with that the students would all return to task.  At the end, if the student had behaved, I would reward him or her with a homemade scratch off card and a certificate.  If the student did not perform well I would allow it to remain a secret.

The second Positive Behavior Support I utilized in my classroom was “Ca$h it in”, a ticket system.  For every twenty minutes I was able to get through my lesson without interruption I would award the class with twenty tickets that could be redeemed for a class prize.  Individually, students could also win tickets for the possibility of being “Most Valuable Student”.  The class received a pizza party on April 4, 2014.  The great aspect of this particular support was that it allowed me to build a behavioral contract with the students and there was student choice evident in the process and execution. My rapport with my students greatly improved and my overall reputation amongst students was that I was kind, caring, and fun.  I received apologetic letters from students who misbehaved and even notes and cards from grateful parents (See Exhibit N).

In March, I was shocked to have received three disciplinary letters in the same week and found that the allegations stemmed from students who had done poorly in my class.  The first letter stemmed from miscommunication between a student’s paraprofessional, Ms. B, and the rest of the class.  On March 25, 2014 a Career Panel was held in the library.  I escorted my Self-Contained class to the library for third period.  At the sound of the bell they were dismissed for lunch and I remained in the library to have lunch with the panelists.  Before the bell was going to ring for the start of fifth period and when my Self-Contained class reconvenes I looked around the library and noted that all of the students had gone to the lunchroom previously.  Upon reaching my classroom I only had three students waiting for me including a student’s paraprofessional, Ms. B.  I asked where the rest of the students had gone and Ms. B informed me that she misunderstood the directive and told them to go to the library after they lined up outside my classroom door (i.e. Room 130).

I returned to the library where the principal and the college advisor, Ms. M, were eating with three students.  In the disciplinary letter, the principal counts the three students, who are high school students as adults.  I found the rest of my students without a teacher in the library playing video games and talking in the back on the computers.  I asked them, “What are you guys doing?  Let’s go.”  The students immediately closed out their games, apologized to me and joined me in walking over to the classroom to begin class.  Shortly after, I received notice for a meeting during which the principal claimed I had not done my duty and that I had left the students unaccompanied in the library although they had come in towards the tail-end of lunch, which is also my duty-free lunch.  Once she realized that she had gotten the order of events chronologically wrong she then went on to talk to me about the tone I used.  Tone is subjective and further the feelings of the students should not have been inferred.  If anything, she should have taken statements from the students as well as the college adviser, Ms. Martinez.  Further, as the principal, upon seeing the students were in the library without a teacher she should have directed them to go to class and to close out the games. Shortly after a letter was added to my file for the above described incident Ms. Martinez volunteered to write a letter detailing her recollection of the events (See Exhibit Q). This meeting was immediately followed by a second meetingwhich I shall continue to detail below.

In November, shortly after the assault incident, Ms. Juman approached my student, Student C, who had defended me from the assault and asked her about my “mental stability”.  The following day Student C approached me to tell me about the exchange after the end of third period. I listened to Student C’s recollection of what had transpired.  When she had finished I thanked her for expressing her feelings to me and told her to go to lunch before she missed the deliverance of food.  I coincidentally had a meeting scheduled with Ms. Juman for fourth period during which I asked her about the exchange and she explained to me that she heard I cried after the assault and wanted to know if I were mentally strong enough for the job.  I explained to her that she crossed a boundary in doing so and that I found it completely unprofessional to have approached an emotionally disturbed student, or any student for that matter, to discuss the mental state of a teacher.  She then apologized for having potentially hurt my feelings and undermining me. She went on to say I must understand she was doing her due diligence to ensure that her students were safe.

In March, Student C began skipping my Intervention and when I approached her about the matter she stated she was better off going home early and that was what her parents preferred. I have included a look into Student C’s behavior as Exhibit O. I then advised Student C that she must bring a note from her parents stating what she had told me or that she attempt to make it to class.  After this incident she continued to skip the class and I ultimately failed her.  In my disciplinary meeting on March 27, 2014, Ms. Juman showed me a statement from Student C stating that I have “had it out for her” since [October] following the incident and that I threatened to tell Ms. Juman’s boss about the incident.  Ms. Juman reassured me that she remembered our discussion in November and that she simply was following protocol when a student requests to write a complaint.  In short, I was told that I was safe yet I received a letter with a consequence that did not match the initial allegation.

Further, if I were to have had a damaged relationship with Student C why would I have waited until March to affect her grades (See Exhibit P).  The initial accusation is that I bullied Student C for information but instead received a letter for professional misconduct for stating, “I’m going to tell Ms. Juman’s boss”.  Furthermore, the consensus that Ms. Juman reached on her own is based entirely on a statement written by Victoria, without consideration of what I had to say and did not rely on any other information to reach her conclusion.  There was no proof of Student C having been intimidated by me, because I didn’t, and is based on what is being collected four months after the alleged incident.  Lastly, she mentions that I have to set clear boundaries with students in the letter however, a clear boundary was crossed when she opened a discussion with a student about a teacher’s mental stability.

A few weeks following this meeting, Student C and I were on great terms, again.  Shortly after receiving her new marking period grades she was promptly switched out of my Intervention and the failing grade I had given her was expunged from her record (See Exhibit P).  She excitedly showed me her grades for she had been improving when I noticed the change in grade.  I did not comment on the change.

Shortly after, in April, I found out that I was being investigated for verbal abuse against another student, Student F. This accusation came shortly after I had called home to inform his father that he was misbehaving and that as a representative of all of his teachers this was a recurring theme across his classes.  The day of the meeting his father accused me of mistreating Student F.  After this meeting, Ms. Lanzillotto, a teacher, approached a paraprofessional to write a statement against me.  My understanding is that according to regulation, only a dean or an administrator has the right to request official statements.  According to a subsequent statement written by Ms. B, the paraprofessional, dated April 11, 2014 she was coerced into writing false allegations and was given a series of leading questions (See Exhibit Q).

After Student F made his allegations against me his behavior began to decline further and he was unable to perform the tasks necessary to pass my class.  I tried using Positive Behavior Supports with Student F including a school wide system known as “Jag Bucks” to reinforce adaptive behavior.  Student F was unfortunately unresponsive and ultimately the guidance counselor thought it best to remove him from the classroom.

On May 20, 2014  I received an email from Nicole Lanzillotto stating that a discussion revolving around Student F’s placement would be discussed after a couple of months of speculation that he would benefit from a different environment (See Exhibit R).  During the subsequent meeting it was introduced that he would have to be placed into the sixth grade ICT class.  Ms. S, the veteran Special Educator who co-taught said ICT, who was mentioned earlier in this letter stated, “Over my dead body, that boy will disrupt everything that I have done in that class”.  At this point, I asked for further support in terms of encouraging Student F to complete his work however, my pleas went unnoticed by the Administration and Nicole Lanzillotto, the head of the Special Education Department.
Afterwards, my entire Self-Contained Language Arts class was interrogated regarding my relationship with Student F. I have included my documentation of Student F’s behavior as Exhibit R. 

Student G, an alternate assessment student in my class approached me at the start of 9th period Intervention stating that he was scared.  He then continued to describe that all of the students of my class had been interviewed by both Administrators and stated, “They asked me if you ever cursed out Student F and he’s trying to get you fired” in front of a room of several other students.  I immediately alerted Mr. DaSilva of this situation given that now the integrity of the investigation has been compromised.  A second accusation arose from this stating that I sent a student to attack Student F Valle.

During the subsequent meeting I was told by Mr. DaSilva that he had interviewed the student who allegedly bullied Student F, Student H.  I was told that Student H had stated he overheard from Student I about the investigation regarding Student F and on his own accord decided to confront Student F.  Mr. DaSilva reiterated that the allegation solely was about Student H and that I would not receive a letter for some other nuanced issue that may have arisen.  Needless to say, I received a fourth letter added to my file dated July 3, 2014 where that promise had not been kept.  Once again, I was, and am, concerned about the inappropriateness of interviewing students with emotional disturbances and with intellectual disabilities.  Further, why is it that I had to deal with the ramifications of the Administrators’ inability to run an investigation that is not compromised?  I had now become the scapegoat for their mismanagement of the investigation process.  In the letter dated July 3, 2014 I noticed quotes from statements that never been shown to me nor my Chapter Leader, Ms. R including, “Ms. V. came to the classroom and started talking about Student F and that he is a liar and that he is not a good kid.”

During my Summative Meeting I requested Ms. R to join me as my chapter leader. Ms Juman spoke of my pedagogy highly and criticized my practices under Domain 4.  At this time she brought up my preference sheet (Exhibit S), which on the top includes my stance of “uncertain” in terms of returning to the school.  I explained that once again I felt that my career was in jeopardy especially given that I received three letters in the matter of a week.  She told me, in front of my union representation that the letters were simply for me to learn from and that, “no one is out to get you, I want you to stay here.  Please, keep me updated if you still decide to go elsewhere”.  Ms. R asked Mr. DaSilva why I had not received a counseling memo instead to which he responded, “The Network says we can no longer give those out.” My chapter leader then voiced that I would continue to search for employment.  After having left this meeting I felt alleviated and trusted Ms. Juman’s word.
Less than a week after I received the Letter of Possible Discontinuance I received an updated package, which now stated my license could possibly be terminated. Because I voiced concern for the needs of my students I am being dealt a difficult card and an ultimatum.  I am alarmed and concerned for my future as an educator.  As I mentioned earlier, this is where I see myself until retirement, in a classroom serving our students and showing them a love for learning.

Please note that as an educator my value was not questioned by the Administration.  I created well differentiated, well developed lesson plans.  The classroom environment was supportive of student learning and accommodating.  Please refer to Exhibit U where I have enclosed an image of my bulletin board with clearly tiered assignment and the outcome for one of my alternate assessment students, Student J. Student J had a very poor attendance rate and could not write a well-constructed paragraph, let alone an essay.  She presented difficulties when expressing the main idea and finding supporting details.  I found that she was highly interested in the topic of bullying and therefore assigned her the topic of bullying and suicide.  She created an argumentative essay based on the topic which I have enclosed (Exhibit T).

Refer to Exhibit N where I have enclosed a letter from a parent speaking of my impact on her son as well as notes from students.  My delivery of lessons allowed for open discussion and personal growth across my students.  Although the Principal had given me a 1 (i.e. ineffective) for Participating in the Community under Domain 4 I worked hard to support my community.  I ran study hall after school for several months.  I tutored students and aided them in completing projects even if they were for courses outside my own.

I also facilitated zero period credit recovery for high school students who were lacking credits.  In September after our staff retreat I aided in recreating the activities for those staff members who were unable to attend and facilitated the activities after school.  I volunteered in October to speak at a school recruitment fair, for which I received a letter dated October 18, 2013 (See Exhibit U).  In May I received a note from Ms. Juman thanking me for helping other staff members with their bulletin boards when I was given two days’ notice that I would be given one to complete (See Exhibit U).  On March 26, 2014 I also led a Special Education Department Meeting, see the attached agenda found in Exhibit U.  On most days I would be found leaving the school around seven after planning, preparing materials for my class, or helping students in study hall.  According to Danielson the above mentioned description of the duties I completed can be described as at least a 3 (effective).

Overall, I have inherited an experience I would not trade. However, I do believe that given my overall rating of Developing; my overall rapport with students; and my drive to come up with innovative methods to increase student engagement, that I should not have my license terminated.  This year has been a trying one but I believe that in the right environment, with the appropriate supports I can grow to become an even better educator.  I view myself as a lifelong learner and hope to grow in this field and master my trade. Throughout my year at School for International Studies I have been consistently given disciplinary notices instead of supports.  Is it not the onus of the Administration to ensure that I succeed? I would much prefer discontinuance rather than a termination of my license, as harsh of a punishment as it may be, so that I may start anew elsewhere and learn from the mistakes I have committed this past year and remain in the classroom.

Special Educator

There you have it. It's sad. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Kvetching of Mona Davids

Oh Mona Davids is in an uproar again. Poor, poor, Mona, how her crocodile tears do flow.

The Daily News reported today that parents (And rightly so) are upset that the school day has been rescheduled in 450 to accommodate the 80 minutes of PD on Mondays and the 75 minutes of parent involvement on Tuesdays. Surely, Mona is happy with the article, her name is mentioned.

So of course Mona took to Facebook to spew off some propaganda and untruths (Click to enlarge).

Mona says in regard to the added time; How unfortunate it is that when it come to issues like this it always seems to be teachers first and students last.

Yeah, teachers really like this. You think the teachers asked for this? But guess what? Since 2005 there has been an added 150 minutes a week, 37 /12 minutes a day, added to school. The difference is that schools could have SBO votes and condense those 150 minutes into 2 or 3 days as my school did for years as well as other schools did. But schools can have SBO votes to spread out the time.

During the UFT teachers contract negotiations parents were NOT ALLOWED to have any input even though that contract affected 1.1 million public school students. 

Heck, the teachers had no say, why would Mona expect the parents to have a say?

Why do the teachers get the blame? The last The Crack Team checked the DOE also signed the contract. So why not kvetch about the DOE not allowing parental input? Besides, didn't the light of Mona's eyes, Campbell Brown, call for time after the school day for teachers to interact with parents? 

The Crack Team wonders if NYPD, FDNY, DC37, and other city unions have community involvement in their contract negotiations. In light of what transpired in Staten Island, where is Mona asking for involvement in current NYCPBA and NYC contract negotiations?

Now that some parents want to discus the quality of education via a tenure lawsuit that WAS NOT brought against the UFT, the UFT is using their legal muscle to bully their way on to the lawsuit because it affects their members.

Using muscle? The UFT must be the Corleone Family? Why doesn't Mona come clean and share who is funding her lawsuits as well as Campbell Brown's? Why doesn't Mona come clean and share specifically how the students and families she is using and giving false hope to were harmed? In fact Mona should have some guts and name these teachers.

An attack on one teacher, an attack on our rights, is an attack on all. But we shan't repeat what was already said.

Is it just me or does anyone else see the hypocrisy and the complete and total lack of respect the UFT has for parents when student needs clash with teachers needs?

Mona needs to stop with the histrionics. Oy vey! As one can see, Mona is growing desperate. She knows she has a losing case. She knows she sold her lackeys a bill of goods. She knows people are starting to see her for what she really is (here, here, here, and here). She and her Minion Sam Pirozzolo are starting to be exposed rather quickly and caught in their lies, double dealings, and hypocrisy. There is nothing left to do but to take the low ground. Like calling people a racist, right Mona? 

The NYC Parents Union has been shouting about this issue since the first moments after details of the new teachers contract were announced. But the DoE and the UFT have consistently ignored and played dumb about the situation.

Oh now Mona brings in the DOE. A few paragraphs back it is the UFT's fault. Mona can't make up her mind.

Is it possible the UFT and the DOE are not playing dumb or ignorant and just don't want to deal with Mona? 

The ironic part it has been the rank and file that has been the most vocal about this. The very same rank and file that Mona is attempting to destroy.

But Mona is in this for Mona. Let's put this to Mona; Mona, why not drive up the Thruway, or have Sam Pirozzolo chauffeur you, and fight for the students of East Ramapo? Go into the sheitls of Monsey, Kaser, and New Square and get a little educational pogrom happening? 

Why won't Mona advocate for the students of East Ramapo? Because there is no there there in Rockland County. No publicity, one newspaper, one radio station, and one cable news channel. Mona wants the accolades, the rewards, the parades.

Wait, there is the Rockland Boulders. Yes, The Crack Team will arrange for Mona to throw out the first ball at a Boulders game if Mona fights for the students of East Ramapo. There will be around 4,000 fans there to cheer Mona on. To applaud her. To ask her for autographs. It will be all Mona. 

That is unless we can raise about $5K and give it to Mona to flip sides. Again.

Come back to the five and dime, Mona Davids, Mona Davids.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Campbell Brown Distorts the Truth in Rochester

So today, it was Campbell Brown's turn to have her moment of attention in Albany. She , along with her followers, er, parents, filed a lawsuit today, Wright v NY, (In fact the lead plaintiff was written about on these pages in 2012) attempting to do away with tenure and due process for teachers. We know it is a frivolous lawsuit, we know that it's a copycat lawsuit, we know that MichelleRheeFirst and Wall Street are behind it and we know that those, like Campbell Brown and Mona Davids are desperate for relevancy and attention.

About a month or so ago when Campbell announced her intentions, she cited a family in Rochester that was allegedly treated appallingly by their daughter's (Then in 7th grade) teacher after the girl (The girl's name, as well as the family's name and teacher's name will not be published here) had written an essay about Fredrick Douglas.

The Nation of Islam has shared their version of the story. What happened? According to the story the student was;
...recently forced to endure the chastisement of her teachers, principal, and other school administrators for her response to a district-wide activity where students were asked to read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and write a brief essay explaining what the narrative meant to them.
Why? The student;
...composed a powerful essay comparing her own educational experiences with those of Douglass. Like him, she lamented that her peers did not like to read, and how difficult it was to obtain a decent education.
Hey, if she can write such a powerful essay, something very right must be happening in the classroom, no?

So what is the problem? It seems that;
According to the girl and her family, the following day the teacher approached Jada and stated that she was offended by what the student wrote.
When the student asked her why she was offended, the teacher stated that the student had used the term “White teachers,” according to the family.
The student says she told the teacher that she was talking about another teacher. The teacher’s response was, “Don’t talk about my colleague like that! Have you ever had a Black teacher? Did she teach you?” according to the young girl.

Remember the game telephone? This story can seem somewhat fantastical.

According to sources deep within the Rochester schools, the teacher said two things to the student. The teacher mentioned that she was disappointed that the student decided to paint all teachers will the same brush and that the student was stereotyping teachers. The teacher also asked the student;
"Don't I care about you?"

The teacher in question cared very much for the student. She was doing as any good teacher, or adult was doing, or I have, when dealing with a student or our child.

We try to impart that to make a blanket statement about a group of people is wrong. Not only that, but we need to base our statement, especially when we write or give our opinion, not supposition but on facts. The teacher was doing her job, the same way any parent would do, or the same way our employer would ask us to do if we had written something.

According to sources,  the student went home and mentioned this to mom. Either the student did not tell the whole story or did, and the proper context was not used, but the mom still got quite upset.

Our sources shared that even though the student loved the teacher and the teacher loved her, the mother, who had a great deal of respect for the teacher as well, insisted that the child be removed from the school post haste. The mother was given her choice of schools to choose from and the mother made the decision on where the student will go to school.

But it didn't end there. The mother then went to a extreme fringe group our sources tell us, could it be the Nation of Islam? Well whatever group it was, that group got in touch with another extreme group. The guys at The Blaze. Yep, Glenn Beck. Yes, the Glen Beck who has made such caring quotes about minorities as found here and here.

What happened? The student and her parents appeared on the Glen Beck Show. Since when does Glen Beck care about the people of the inner city? Since when does Glen Beck care about the people of color in this country? Glen Beck is an opportunist. Glen Beck, even when he is on his meds, is meshuga.

The family is being used. First by the NOI, next by Glen Beck, and now by Campbell Brown.

The teacher involved loves her job, loves her students, and this is the price that she must pay, for something that is just miscommunication?

Where is the verification of this incident having happened the way it was reported? If this truly happened the way it was reported why then is the teacher still teaching? Where are other stories of this teacher acting in the same manner? Were students in the class interviewed as part of the investigation? Were other teachers?

This incident is still under investigation and we don't know the entire story. Yet, Campbell Brown has no problem deciding what the truth is. Campbell Brown has no trouble using people to advance herself.

Think about it. Read the story in again. Read this. Make your own decision.

This lawsuit is about power, control, and money. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sam Pirozzolo's Hypocrisy Exposed

In light of today's story in the Daily News how Campbell Brown, the Bayou Schicksa, is now joining
the fray and about to file her own law suit (More to come on this story on these pages this week), we yet again must focus on the comedy stylings of The Crack Team's favorite source of material, Sam Pirozzolo.

Yes, this will mark the 7th blog post this month which shares the buffoonery that examines the logic belching out of Sam's mind. It is all too easy to take his thoughts apart and to show what a hypocrite and self-absorbed phony he truly is. The funny thing is, that it took us here at SBSB a couple of days to put 2 and 2 together to expose him. Again.

On his Facebook page, Sam mentioned how the Pomona Middle School, of the East Ramapo Central School District (Rockland County) has had its day extended by two hours (Click to enlarge);
Now we don't know if Sam knows where East Ramapo, Pomona, or Rockland County is. We do know that there is a White Castle on Route 59 in Nanuet not too far from Pomona and judging by Sam, he seems to be a fan of White Castle, so let's give him a slight benefit of the doubt.

But we are sure Sam does not know about the the East Ramapo Central School District and this is yet another instance of Sam exposing his ignorance, his selfishness, and how he has just morphed into some mindless minion of Mona's.

East Ramapo is one of the most corrupt school districts in the State of New York. The school board, of which there are nine members, is controlled by 7 Hasidic Jews. These 7 board members send their children to yeshivas, and have zero ownership to the school district other than paying taxes and making sure their taxes are as low as can be.

 Let's just start with how the school board OK'd the sale of an empty school, and to close, lease, and sell an open school to yeshivas for under the true valuation of each school. David Steiner, former state education commissioner, had to step in and stop both sales.

According to a April 2013 New York Magazine article, ERCD has since the time the Hasidim have taken control of the school board in 2005;

The new majority on the board cut taxes and budgets, angering the public-school community.
 cleaned out the district’s reserve fund during a deepening recession

the kindergarten school day was reduced by half. AP classes and ESL programs fell by the wayside. In the high schools, so many teachers have been laid off that students can’t fill their schedules

..floated a proposal to eliminate kindergarten altogether and shorten the school day for everyone else
At Spring Valley High School, which at one time was ranked in the top 500 in the United States; 
"The school’s deans, who had handled discipline, had been laid off, and many students started arriving at school very late or skipping it entirely. The security staff was also cut, and so fights became more frequent, and students often stayed shut in their classrooms until the halls cleared. Clubs were eliminated, as well as sports teams and the drama program, until the communal life of the schools dis­appeared and it seemed to Olivia Castor, another Spring Valley High School student, that the school board’s vision of education consisted of little more than “reading, writing, and arithmetic.”
 The one time president of the school board, an Orthodox Jew named Daniel Schwartz decided to tell those, a community mostly of immigrants and African-American's that disagreed with the board; 
"You don’t like it? Find another place to live.”
According to New York, for years, the Hasidim would hide their most disabled children, afraid to let them be seen in public. Soon, these children were being sent to private schools, but those schools cost money. How to save money, but keep them in the private schools? Have the board pay for the tuition, a packed board, a board that won't ask any questions;

Once they gained a majority, the district began to grant many more special-needs placement requests. It has granted so many, in fact, that the New York State Department of Education has formally notified the district that it is violating the law.

The board after it conducts district business in the open and then goes into closed session does not come back to take public comments until midnight. Parents and students must wait all night just to be heard! After one contentious meeting, the board’s attorney buttonholed a high-school senior and called him a “piece of shit.” Oh, let's not forget the board attorney, Chris Kirby screaming at the families and the children.

The Hasidim vote as a bloc. The Hasidim do not care one iota about the secular students and families of  East Ramapo. The Hasidim are sucking out the resources of East Ramapo for the own benefit.

Rockland County clergy have asked the state to take over the school district. The arts have been cut in East Ramapo.

The problems are just too numerous to list on these pages. Click here to read more of East Ramapo in the news.

But what is missing is the lack of involvement of NYC Parents Union, Minion Sam Pirozzolo, his handler Mona Davids, and Campbell Brown. These are real problems. Verifiable problems. Problems that are more important than a law suit because some teacher supposedly said something bad to a student.

Where is Mona? Where is Sam? Simple. Nowhere and they won't lift a finger to do anything. Why? Because it doesn't do them any good. Sam, because not one single soul can vote for him in East Ramapo and Mona, because she won't be coronated in Rockland County as she wishes to be in New York City.

The problems faced in East Ramapo are of the same cause, though not of the same veracity, statewide. This is systemic. It is not the teachers, it is the decision makers across school districts that pervert the learning process. These are the true enablers. Teachers don't have that kind of clout or power. But we are the easier targets.

These are real problems, real issues, and because it won't and can't advance Mona Davids and Sam Pirozzolo politically they won't lift a finger to do something.

Both of them are frauds.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jennifer Rogers Goes From Queens to Georgia

As readers of this blog know, we spent some time on discussing Jennifer Rogers (neé Jones) former principal of PS 29 in College Park, Queens on  these pages last year. In fact this post, was so well received, there were over 200 comments including several threats to myself apparently by people close to Rogers.

So what  has become of Jennifer Rogers since she was asked to supposedly separate from the NYCDOE?

The Crack Team received news today that Rogers is doing fine and dandy in Georgia and is now a Braves fan and believes the the team needs some bullpen help at the trading deadline.

Oh. That's not all. Rogers has started an educational consulting company named (And we are not exactly sure of the name but sharing the long convoluted form of it); Parent Education and Advocacy Empowerment Project.

Yes Rogers, is jumping on the "do-gooder" bandwagon and seems to be onlylooking to help the families two of the wealthiest communities in the Atlanta metro area; Buckhead and Brookhaven.

Gee, one would assume that these parents, these communities already have the resources if they want help, why not Cobb County, Southern Atlanta, or Clayton County? After all she is a former;
"...educational administrator, elementary school Principal, and consultant for Columbia University Teachers College."
Wait, nowhere in the above quote is it mentioned that she was a teacher. There have been rumors flying that she never taught, she seems to have confirmed this rumor.

I guess no one in those under privileged, poverty stricken communities can afford to shell out the $150 consultation fee, according to the company's Facebook page, to have an initial audience with her greatness.

But check out her "About Me" page (comments were added in red);
I am a former educational administrator, elementary school Principal, and consultant for Columbia University Teachers College. But first, I am a Mom Mozel Tov !
After the birth of our son, our family made the decision We think the NYCDOE upper echelon was involved in that decision I would stay home to raise our most precious gift Then why at this time last year you were planning on returning in September 2014?. Leaving behind a career I loved was hard We heard the decision was quite easy, but the work of being a parent provides the greatest joy I have ever known.

I dedicated my professional life to children through my work in the public education system And to destroying the careers of teachers, one lawsuit is in the works against Rogers, another soon to come. Now, I am looking forward to supporting parents, children and schools in a different role And just how did you support these parents at PS 280? At PS 29?. As an advocate, I am able to work to closely with parents and children to share my knowledge and help ensure children are receiving the appropriate interventions and services they need to grow and reach their potential Why are you not doing this for the children most in need of your services? The students that live in poverty?.

I look forward to working with you and your children!


Jennifer Rogers, Founder
Funny how Rogers didn't give students their correct IEP services... yet now she is touting that she knows how to go about making sure those needs are addressed. 

Me, me, me, me, is what The Crack Team finds is of most importance to Rogers. Again, she does what she can to put herself in the best possible light but refuses to even apologize or make amends to the upwards of 10 careers she either ruined or put in jeopardy.

We here at SBSB call for Jennifer Rogers to come clean, to speak the truth. And, more importantly, to work with and concentrate on, the most neediest children of the Atlanta Metro area.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sam Pirozzolo Cries Tears of a Clown

Everyone loves a clown, right?

Sam Pirozzolo is giving clowns a bad name.

But we here at SBSB appreciate Sam and the material he gives us. It's just too easy, like fishing for a whale in a barrel.

Sam must have been bursting with pride this morning when his handler, Mona Davids, posted this tweet with a link to a Facebook conversation on his wall;


What got Sam's bloomers all tied in a not? The UFT decided to add it's two cents against the frivolous lawsuit that Sam has placed his, and his children's names on, and decided to defend teachers. Gee, Sam, what is our union supposed to do, let the ignorant have their way?

So Sam took to Facebook and was promptly p3wned by some actual educators.

Sam blabbered; Once again the UFT shows that they are ONLY interested in themselves and their membership - not students. It's too bad that parents cound not intervine during the recent UFT contract negioations. Very selfish! Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said in an affidavit that the litigation to curtail tenure would “undermine the quality of education in New York.” Hello!!-- Bad teachers undermine the quality of education in New York. 

How are they only interested in themselves? Is this not what a union is supposed to do? Is the UFT not supposed to advocate for it's members? Is Sam a member of the New York Society of Opticians? A group that purportedly is; 
" advance and improve the services of the New York State Licensed Ophthalmic Dispense..."
Advance? You mean at the expense of the patients with lobbying in Albany? Of course not! Ophthalmic dispensers would never sink that low, now would they? But why would there be a governmental affairs link on their page? Really? Would the NYSSO sully their hands in political donations?

They would and they have. In fact they have their own political action committee, the Opticians PAC. Check out more here, here (Jeff Klein got $$ and so did Ken Lavalle who Sam has donated to in the past), here, aqui, and here. And don't forget, one can donate to the Opticians PAC here!

Why would Ophthalmic Dispensers need their on PAC?  Does this PAC concern itself with the plight of optical clients or the ophthalmic dispensers? In fact, does the Opticians PAC have any clients as members? Does the PAC invite clients to sit in on major decisions that can affect ophthalmic dispensers? Perhaps a newsletter would show that the ophthalmic dispensers have the best interests of their clients at hand? Oops! We were wrong. But we here at SBSB do hope that Sam had a swell time at Turning Stone Casino at the annual NYSSO symposium. It makes one wonder if the costs, and the losses, at the symposium were passed along to the clients. 

Anyway, for those visiting upstate, stop in and say hi to the folks that run the Opticians PAC over at Buenau's Opticians in Delmar, NY. Tell them you are a union member and don't like what Sam is doing and receive a glass of wine on the house! 

Now back to more of Sam.

Sam in response to a comment defending tenure spewed on; And bad ones too? You have got to be kidding me XXXXX or are there no bad teachers!

Yes Sam, there are bad teachers, but you have yet to articulate what a bad teacher is. You have yet to give a definitive answer as to what a bad teacher is. Tell us. Please.

I apologize to all of the qualified, respectful, caring, loving, nurturing, competent, innovative, younger or older teachers who work with our children every day.

The vast, vast majority are these teachers. What about Francesco Portelos? Have you backed him? What about teachers that do stick out their necks for students everyday, that go against the grain and are harassed, set up, vilified? These are the teachers that need the tenure. The bad teachers, which Sam still can't articulate what is bad, the system works. 

"If you want to hear what I am saying then take your fingers out of your ears."  


And I am most sorry that your union will not recognize that there are just some teachers who must go because they make the rest of you look very bad.

No, we look bad because of the last 10 years. Teachers are more than willing to improve their craft, to teach, to work hard. But people like Sam and his cabal have done nothing other than to dump on teachers, to destroy education for their own ends. Why not sue to get teachers more support? Where was Mona during the 12 years of Bloomberg? Oh yeah, getting big $$$$ from the UFT.

I apologize that the UFT has financially contributed to so many politicians that they now own the education legislative agenda in New York and therefore leaving caring, unfunded, no voiced, bothersome parents with absolutely no choice but to have this horrible conversation by bringing about a lawsuit because it's the ONLY way we will be heard.

No, you don't apologize. You mean it. By the way, see the above about political contributions, etc...

no voiced, bothersome parents with absolutely no choice but to have this horrible conversation by bringing about a lawsuit because it's the ONLY way we will be heard.

Where have you ever had parents without voices? Bloomberg made sure parents have no voices, yet Sam was silent and he was president of CEC 31!! But Sam wanted that elected postion for he saw it as a springboard to bigger and greater things. That is what he is in this lawsuit. Sam sees only glory for himself in 2016. 

Parents are heard and seen. Just too many parents do not show up to Parent-Teacher conferences, don't look over their child's homework, don't show for school events. It is time for parents to take responsibility. 

So in all sincerity I say this, "While I don't believe all uft members are horrible, or selfish, I do believe the terrible ones don't deserve to be teaching our children."

BULLOCKS! And attack on one is an attack on all. Simple as that. 

Lastly; So if more good teachers like yourself had the courage to step forward and tell Mulgrew that enough is enough then the parents would not have to do it for you.

Sam has no idea what we tell Mulgrew. But, Sam just put his foot in his mouth again. We need the courage to tell Mulgrew what must be done. But, we also need the courage to advocate for our students, to not be abused by principals, to do the right thing by the parents. We lose tenure, our advocacy for the "right thing" ends. It will be over. And you know who will be hurt? The students. And you know who the students can than thank? Sam Pirzollo, Mona Davids. and Campbell Brown. Which will prove one thing.

That this triumvirate, this junta of the ill informed, are in this for themselves. Their own glory. Their own riches. 

Sam Pirozzolo cares alright, but it is only for himself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

NYC Principal Arrested, Plans Imminent Career Advancement

The Daily News is always the first paper I read everyone morning without fail. As soon as I pick it up I check the back page (Sports) first and then check out the front page. Well lo and behold, my eyes bounced out of their sockets when I saw the headline (No! Not the new dolts on the left).

It's nice to see yet another principal of the NYCDOE take advantage of the free and easy to use career advancement plan offered for administrators through the DOE and the CSA. Get arrested, get caught in unethical activity, get a raise and career advancement. Just don't murder someone. The DOE must draw the line somewhere.

The Daily News reported today that Sadie Silver, principal of PS 28 in Bushwick was arrested;
"...Friday with Michael Acosta, 34, after cops caught the educator and her partner carrying heroin and prescription drugs into Coxsackie Correctional Facility."
Oops! Wait, there is more!

While at Coxsackie to visit an inmate at the maximum security prison, the News reports;
"Silver and Acosta face felony charges of promoting prison contraband and criminal possession of a controlled substance, as well as a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child, since they had a 10-year-old with them when they were collared."
Promoting contraband? They were smuggling heroin into the prison. Was this for the prisoner's personal use or for him to sell to the other inmates? And how was this heroin and suboxone (Used to fight opioid addiction), which which was also one of the drugs named, being smuggled into the prison?

The Crack Team posits an opinion. Since both Silver and her boyfriend were arrested, it would be safe to assume that the drugs were hidden on the person of the 10 year old, Silver's daughter, as the News reported.

Silver was subsequently hauled off to the Greene County Jail, made bail, and was immediately reassigned by the DOE.

But this is not Silver's first brush with taking advantage of the career advancement plan offered by the DOE. A few years ago, the News reported;
"...Silver was slapped with a $1,500 fine by the city Conflict of Interest Board for using her position to land her brother a data-entry job at her school."
Good thing she is a principal or she would be forced to follow Chancellor's regulation and New York State Criminal Law.

But be sure, even though what she did was heinous, especially with a child involved, we here at SBSB will expect that she has due process and that all procedures are followed.

But several things are under the collective skins of The Crack Team. Of course the seemingly turning their head, going through the motions of doing something to administrators (Here, here, here, here, here, and here of the many scandals). But where are the deformers jumping all over this story?

Nary a word from The Three Stooges of New York State attempting to separate teachers from due process. Nothing to be found here, here, here, or here!

Imagine if this had been a teacher in Coxsackie. How fast would those three be jumping up and down screaming that this teacher must be fired, to heck with due process? How fast would they be complaining about the system? How fast would they be tweeting about this?

Teachers are given too much power but the deformers. Is it not time these people start looking at management? They have the power, the make the decisions.