STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO LETTER THREATENING POSSIBLE DISCIPLINARY ACTION AND TERMINATION
RE: LESSON 03/22/2007
This is statement in response to a letter dated March 28, 2007 in which Ms I.T. threatens me with the following statement: “Please be advised that this incident may lead to further disciplinary action including an unsatisfactory rating and charges that could lead to your termination.
The charges leveled against me violate the contract which is presently in effect between the United Federation of Teachers and The City of New York.
I will respond to this letter, by copying its contents in their entirety, interspersed with my comments.
MS I.T.’S LETTER BEGINS AS FOLLOWS:
March 28, 2007
Dear MS UNTAMED,
On Tuesday, March 27, 2006, I met with you and your union representative, Mr. P.B., in room 100 to discuss your lesson plan on March 23, 2007.
MS UNTAMED’S COMMENT: We did not meet on March 27, 2006. We met on March 27, 2007.
ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL I.T.’S LETTER CONTINUES:
On Friday, March 23, 2007, I entered your classroom, room 322, at the beginning of period 6. I was accompanied by Ms. Assistant Principal #2. You were assigned to teach class 7E Science.
MS UNTAMED’S COMMENT:
I am a traveling teacher. Therefore, the use of the words “your classroom” is misleading. On Fridays, I teach in room 410, 322, and 326. The rest of the information in this portion of the letter is correct.
However, it is important to note that Ms I.T. makes sure to mention that she was accompanied by another Assistant Principal. This is not accidental. By having two administrators present, she is laying the groundwork for charges that can lead to a U-rating.
MS I.T.’S LETTER CONTINUES:
I asked you for your lesson plan for the class. You did not have a lesson plan with you to show me. You told me that you had the lesson plan in the lab and that you would give it to me later in the day. You came to my office during period 7 to give me the lesson plan.
MS UNTAMED’S COMMENT:
And that’s all that Ms I.T. has to say about the lesson. So let’s stop a minute and talk about what was really going on in room 322 during sixth period on Friday, March 23, in the year Two Thousand and Seven.
Many of the children in class 7E have learning disabilities. Others do not have learning disabilities but need extra help because they are still learning English. They have low scores on statewide Language Arts and Math tests.
As Ms I.T. walked in, she saw that I had approximately fifteen large science project boards on my science cart. I was explaining to the students that we would be holding a class science fair. Because there would be only two or three minutes to visit each project, I wanted the students to focus on the problem and the conclusion. What was the question, and what was the answer. They should also notice the hypothesis, data, visual presentation, and art work. Next Monday, we would begin the group presentations. This would give students a chance to preview the science boards up close before the group presentations.
Ms I.T. interrupted me as I was giving the opening instructions. I informed her that I couldn’t stop at that moment, because it would interrupt the flow of the lesson. The lesson plan was probably under 15 science project boards at the moment—or it might be in the lab, I wasn’t sure. I told her that I had lunch next period and would bring the lesson plan to her office.
Ms I.T. and the other assistant principal turned around and walked out of the class. They wanted to see my lesson plan, but they did not want to see my students’ science projects. This was obvious to me, and it was obvious to my students.
After the two assistant principals left the classroom, my students moved all the desks to the edges of the room. We placed the science projects around the room. They took out their journals, and visited each project. They were very interested in each others’ work. I had never seen them as motivated about science as I did that day.
The science projects represented a tremendous amount of work on the part of my students—and Ms I.T. couldn’t be bothered to take ten minutes of her time to view it.
MS I.T.’S LETTER CONTINUES
During our meeting on March 27, 2007, I asked you why you did not have the lesson plan for class 7E with you during period 6. You said, “I did not have a lesson plan with me, it was in the lab and I gave it to you seventh period. My lesson was already flowing.”
MS UNTAMED’S COMMENT:
Please refer to the New York City Department of Education Teachers’ Contract specifically Article 8E –Education Reform
“The development of lesson plans by and for the use of the teacher is a professional responsibility vital to effective teaching.
The organization, format, notation, and other physical aspects of the lesson plan are appropriately within the discretion of each teacher.
A principal or supervisor may suggest, but not require, a particular format or organization …"
Nothing is said in the contract about where the lesson plan should be kept.
MS I.T’S LETTER CONTINUES
I conclude that you failed to fulfill your professional responsibility when you did not have your lesson plan for class 7E with you during the period 6 class. Attached for your reference please find the November 6,2006 Principal Memo #10 regarding Lesson Plans. All staff members must be prepared with lesson plans daily for their classes and be able to show the lesson plans to a supervisor during the class period upon request.
MS UNTAMED’S COMMENT
As of November 6, 2006, had all staff members at I.S.666 received U-ratings or formal warnings? I ask that question, because according to the contract:
“A principal or supervisor may suggest, but not require, a particular format or organization except as part of a program to improve deficiencies of teachers who receive U-ratings or formal warnings.”
Principal Memo #10 violated the contract. I am sure that Principal S.T. does not like Article 8 Section E. That’s OK. There are certain sections of the contract that I don’t like either. However, the contract is legally binding—unless you find some unethical way to sidestep it—like creating a U-rating or formal warning by inventing deficiencies that don’t exist.
Therefore, I have filed a grievance—not only for myself, but for all the staff members at I.S. 666.
The grievance is worded as follows:
Step I GRIEVANCE
Dear Ms. Principal,
Pursuant to the procedures of Article 22B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education, please arrange a conference to discuss the following complaint:
Being asked to produce a lesson plan on the spot during a class session and it leading to file letters. The lesson plan is available, but asking for it in a specific location or on demand especially during an instructional period is in violation of Articles 8E and Article 20 of the teachers contract.
I will be represented at the conference by my UFT Chapter Leader or his/her designee.
Very truly yours,
ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL I.T. 'S LETTER CONTINUES
Please be advised that this incident may lead to further disciplinary action including an unsatisfactory rating and charges that could lead to your termination.
Very truly yours,
Assistant Principal I.T.
MS UNTAMED’S FINAL COMMENT
You have created a disciplinary incident where there was only a hard working teacher and a group of motivated children. I did not fail to fulfill my professional responsibility to my students. On the contrary, their science projects proved that everyone in that classroom had been doing a good job all year long.
Perhaps that is why you found it necessary to leave in such a hurry.