SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Isolation of Being an ATR

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Isolation of Being an ATR

A few weeks ago I touched on, and broke down the idiocy, of Chalkbeat's latest ATR missive. In the last few days,  Chalkbeat again showed it's cluelessness as well as the DOE's official mouth piece, the NY Post. The New York Times also chimed in, but it was a little less shrill.

All of these articles came out within the last 3-4 days and I so much wished to comment on them, to break the down the BS and expose the truth. But in a way, it'll be beating a dead horse. There must have been some way I can shed light on the truth without just rehashing the reality yet again.

Arthur Goldstein today helped me unlock what I been wanting to write about for some time but never found a proper segue to put fingers to keypad and share.

Arthur wrote...
It's important to note that any teacher can be brought up on charges at any time, and that even if the charges are nonsense it's likely some minor one will be sustained. Maybe you used your phone in the school, or did something equally inconsequential. That's enough to fine you a few thousand bucks and place you into the ATR. Then you're doomed, if the Post gets its way.
This is every ATR's nightmare. Yes, other teachers have this nightmare as well, but with an ATR it is especially magnified. One thing, one mistake, one act taken out of context can at worst, have charges brought against you or at best, a letter to your file in which no matter how trivial and how much great work you do the rest of the year will bring you a U rating.

This past December, my 3rd day in my assigned school, I was bringing a 5th grade class upstairs from lunch. I had never had this class before. They had no clue who I was. There was one young man you was quite attention seeking and was quite boisterous the walk up four flights of stairs.

When we got to the class I lined the students up and asked for quiet until I would send them in. Most of the class complied as I sent them in four at a time. In the meantime this student, and for the sake of keeping his anonymity will henceforth be known of Shlomo Epstein was getting more and more obnoxious.

With him and three other students the last ones to be asked to go in the classroom not only was his obnoxious level rising, but his obnoxiousness was rubbing off on the other students. Their teacher was in the classroom and she heard and saw of my issues yet did not lift a finger to help. It was her prep. A MADE UP PREP. I was on my own.

I asked Shlomo to step off the line. I walked up to him, whispered in his ear and stepped back. I was about 12-18 inches from him when he finally complied and walked to the other side of the hall. As he walked by me he tripped over his own feet, on purpose, and then threw himself into the wall. He turned around and screamed, "WHY DID YOU THROW ME INTO THE WALL????"

Then the teacher got involved. She asked one of the students if he had seen anything and he feigned ignorance. Great. 

My heart stopped. I knew it was BS and so did he. But, and I heard this later, his mother is a para for the DOE and she sees no wrong in Shlomo. And, I heard from other teachers that he has pulled this fake thrown into the wall act in the past.

At the end of the day the AP wanted me to give a statement. Just the facts. I wanted a UFT rep there with me. Not the one in the school (She was way, way too inexperienced) but I got hold of the Bronx UFT and was told that for a statement I did not need a rep. But I did it anyway.

The AP appeared sympathetic to me, but that could have been a ruse. It seemed that the adminstration was more concerned with mom and wished to share with her what had happened when she came to pick Shlomo up.

I immediately reached out to my District 7 rep and he assured me that when and if I met with the principal he will be there to rep me.

Days went by, I hated the wait. It was about 3 weeks until I got the notice to meat with the principal. At least it seemed that OSI bounced it back to the school. But I was still nervous.

When we met with the principal I signed the waiver to be able to read the statements of the other students. There were 11 statement and every single statement except one exonerated me of throwing Shlomo into the wall. Shlomo's statement was the only one still insisting that I had.

I was fortunate. My DR knew what to do and how to handle the situation. I doubt at anytime the school's CL could've done the same. I got no letter, no nothing. The principal was quite fair to me and treated me with dignity.

I am sharing this for a few reasons. One is how quick something so inane, so baseless can ruin a teacher's career in an instant. Second, that being an ATR, especially when you first arrive at a school you are basically an island onto yourself. You have ZERO support. Nothing, nada, bupkus. You are on your own. At this school there were a few teachers I knew from over the years and this helped. But too many ATR's are left alone and vulnerable in their schools and worse they are ignored and/or chastised.

One more thing. If you go into a discipline meeting, unless you have a strong Chapter Leader, whatever you do go into any discipline meeting with you DL.


Anonymous said...

This post is literally what causes me to suffer from extreme anxiety and insomnia. We all work with kids like the one you described. It just takes one BS incident to screw you over for the rest of your career. Maybe it is just me, but back when I started in the 90's this kind of stuff happened but both the DOE and the UFT had our backs. Now you wonder who is gonna be on your side when the shit hits the fan.

Anonymous said...

If you are assaulted or injured in any way, insist on an ambulance. File a line of duty injury report. Too many teachers are getting hurt and afraid to enact their rights. Get a lawyer if you have too. I saw a teacher get her wrist broken by a kid and come in the next day because she was untenured. The student laughed in her face. Nothing was done. Remember there are plenty of cameras to sustain your claims.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you wrote about this. As an ATR I fear this type of thing occurring. I don't even know who the CL in my school is. It's good to know I could reach out to the UFT. as much as the union annoys me, I feel like they will help,in some cases.