Friday, February 29, 2008

U-rating Appeal - Introduction

I had my U-rating Hearing at the beginning of this month. It might help others who will have hearings in the future to have an idea of what it was like.

My hearing was held at 65 Court Street in Brooklyn in a small office. The "judge" in the hearing is called a "Hearing Officer". The teacher who is appealing the U-rating is called "The Appellant" . The Union provides someone who is not a lawyer, but who is trained to represent teachers. This person is called "The UFT Advisor".

I met with my Advisor about two weeks before the hearing. The Advisor had a folder with one U-rated observation. He asked me if I had had any other letters or U-rated lessons. I did. He had not received them. I gave him all the copies that I had of negative letters and observations in my file and my replies to them . He also asked for any positive letters. There were two. I also showed him excellent work that my students had done as a result of those U-rated lessons.

The Advisor said that principals often left out negative letters and that they would later put them in at the last minute just before the hearing. He would object if they tried to do this, but he would be overruled.

The Advisor also said that the Principal was not required to attend in person, but could be present at the hearing through a conference call. He would also object to her not being there in person, but would probably be overruled on that also.

The Advisor also told me that the teacher rarely won at these hearings, but that I would have a second hearing at which I would be represented by a UFT attorney in front of an arbitrator and at those hearings, the teacher had a better chance of winning.

The day of the hearing I arrived about twenty minutes before the hearing. My advisor had a thick pile of numbered pages. He was making notes based on these pages that he had JUST RECEIVED. There was only one copy. I did not get one.

The Hearing Officer called us into his office a few minutes after 9:00 AM. He took a few minutes to contact the principal and get her on speaker phone. She had two Assistant Principals with her. ( X and Z). Throughout the hearing it was almost impossible to hear Principal P and Assistant Principal X. Assistant Principal Z was more clearly audible. They constantly referred to the numbered copies that I did not have. The Advisor and I passed them back and forth between us.

The Hearing Officer started the hearing by having each of us introduce ourselves by giving our names and our roles in the hearing.

Then he outlined the procedures. They were as follows:

1. Entire session will be recorded. Proper protocol will be adhered to at all time. Please be active listeners and use appropriate voice tone and level at all times. During the proceding you may request to go off record at any point.

3. Procedural Objections-- The proceeding will begin with procedural objections from the UFT Advisor. The Hearing Officer will respond to each objection by sustaining or denying it.

4. Statement of Administrators--The Principal makes statements or stands on the record.

5. Cross Examination of Administrator-- Members of the Administration are cross examined by uft advisor.

6. Opening Statement by Appellant or Advisor-- After cross examination either appellant or advisor is asked to make an opening statement.

7. Cross Examination of Appellant-- Administrators cross examine the appellant.

8. Administrator's closing statement.

9. Appellant's closing statement.

The Hearing lasted for about two hours. I will post a description of each part. It might take a while. It is difficult for me to write about it.

Next: Procedural Objections

18 comments:

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Think of all the people this process employs. My hearing officer was from the islands. Man I wish I had his cushy job and retire to some paradise island after 30 years of hearing cases where I knew the fix was in!
What a racket!!!!!!!!!!!

Also think of the years of union dues you have paid and how flippent your Union Rep is to your pain and suffering being you take your profession seriously. We are in trouble in this society when things like this go on and people make careers out of screwing others! Is this the American way?
This is not America? This is not!

moriah said...

My hearing officer was from the islands also. Either it was the same guy, or we are now importing hearing officers.

moriah said...

By the way, my Union Rep was not flippant. He was a very nice guy. Very sympathetic and supportive. I can't be at war with everyone at once. I deeply appreciate his presence and support.

The Union, strong or weak, is the only defense we have against the horrible abuse perpetrated by Bloomberg and Klein.

We are the Union. We approved the contract. If its been taken over by people who have sold us out, we need to take it back.

Chaz said...

By the way, the "U" rating is an internal DOE matter and you do not get a UFT attorney and an independent arbitrator.

Once the "U" rating is upheld (2 out of 100 are reversed), that is the end. No appeal, no nothing.

moriah said...

If you are right, I am screwed. First because I will inevitably get another "U" rating at the end of this year. Second because my UFT rep at school, my District Representative, and my UFT advisor all have told me that there will be 3020a hearing in front of an arbitrator.

Time will tell.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

I am in the same position you are. This year I will not get a U on my teaching since I have "scored three S in a row from the skunk of the principal himself and two from his lackey Asst. Principals. No this year I will get a U on a trump upped charged that I did not have the students sign their regents test papers from blue to white and white to blue.

We will probably meet in the rubber room as our fates seemed sealed but there ARE glimmers of hope and I think and they are:
1. That the principals we both serve under are stupid and may have left themselves open to civil action.
2. That BloomKlein will be out of office in 2009
3. That it is possible for the democrates to regain the white house.
4. That all these "reforms" will prove to be the disaster they are.
5. That Mayoral control of the schools will end.

We must keep fighting with words, reason and proof that we have been targeted, discriminated and abused. SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE BUT WE MUST BE VOCAL AND PERSISTANT!

Chaz said...

Moriah:

That is true, once you get two consecutive "U" ratings, the DOE will start 3020a proceedings against you. You will get a NYSUT lawyer and in about a year or two after your removal, you will have your hearings. The good news, very few teachers get terminated, the bad news, expect a fine and even a suspension.

I wasn't aware that you were talking about two consecutive "U"s. Usually the teacher only wins a "U" rating appeal if the principal gave a reassigned teach a "U" when the teacher wasn't in the school that year or if the teacher can prove the principal was unfair based upon getting satisfactory observations during the year. That is why you have a 2% chance of winning a "U" rating hearing.

moriah said...

O.K. I'm headed for the rubberroom. My science A.P. just gave me a U on an observation, which I will post as soon as I get finished posting the Hearing for the first U-rating.

I can't keep up with documenting everything they accuse me of. I am still teaching and I take a lot of work home. I have been told to just relax and do nothing because no matter what I do, I'll still get a U at the end of the year. But I just can't do that. I still spend hours doing lesson plans and grading papers. I always have, and I always will as long as I stay in the classroom.

This is happening to me because I oppose the privitization of the public schools. "Resistance is futile", but I'm resisting anyway. This is a political fight. I will never stop fighting them. The more they do to me, the firmer my opposition.

Chaz said...

Moriah:

Just to make sure I'm clear. Two consecutive annual "U" ratings get you into the rubber room. Not two consecutive "U" observations.

Remember, the Borg were defeated in the end. You must document everything you do, keep a diary about how you are harassed by the administrators, you will need it at your 3020-a hearing. Make sure your chapter leader is on your side. Finally, demand to see your school file with your Chapter Leader and make sure it has only your observations, annual rating and positive & negative letters to the file, signed by you.

Anonymous said...

I was placed in the rubber room for allegations known to be false, and was sent back to the school without being charged. However, the principal gave me an U for the year by circumventing the 3020-a process.
Recently I was oberved and got an u for the lesson observation, and was told in danger of U rating for the year.
mostly likely, they will charge me with incompetence 3020-a. time will tell.
it seems that is the pattern by DoE to get rid of senior teachers.

moriah said...

Ok. This is good. Now we're getting down to the nitty-gritty. Do you remember what those really irritating English teachers wrote in RED ink on our essays? "Give examples." "Support with Evidence" "Give more details".

Change is in the air. There is hope. We don't have to be ashamed.

They write details to make us look abusive and incompetent. They're problem is that they are drones. Their language and methods are all alike. That means that when you put a lot of cases together a pattern begins to show up.

Right now we have to fight them one by one, but some people have gone farther down that road than others and can share information.

What would you have liked to know before you went into one of those hearings? Don't spare the details.

Anonymous said...

UFT is not much of help. Since the union dues are collected every month anyway, they just try to do as little as they possibly can.
Had a U rating hearing, but not suprised to learn that the u rating was sustained. Well, I am preapred to ride out the rubber room or retire by the end of the 3020-a, which will take about two years.

moriah said...

My UFT rep points out to me that we are not fired outright (as they do in the business world), and we do have the right to a 3020a hearing, and we do get paid the whole time we are in the Rubber Room because of the Union and the Union dues that we pay.

My reply to him is that he is missing the point.

Teachers are being targeted as never before in order to demoralize, intimidate, and control the membership. Those who speak out are immediately targeted. An educational system that insists that teachers behave like robots will never produce anything but robots.

I fear that this is exactly what Bloomborg and Co. want. Total submission to their will.

A Union is not just there to defend a paycheck. It is there to defend the right of the worker to speak and be heard.

Chaz said...

Moriah:

True the drones rule but just like 7 of 9, there is a human side to the process. Under 3020-a hearings the DOE must prove their case and you have a right for rebuttal. The reason there is an ever increasing reassignment of teachers, rumor has it it is over 850, is that the DOE wants you to retire or resign.

The arbitrators are not there to fire you, if you go through the entire process, your chances of being terminated is small, except if you committed a felony. The arbitrators are payed by the DOE and the UFT. Therefore, they tend to fine you to keep both sides happy.

Most people in the "rubber room" get to like it there, no administrative harassment, no paperwork, and no classroom to control. That may sound terrible, however many of the teachers take it as a sabbatical, with full pay.

Anonymous said...

EXCELLANT BLOG...good luck. We feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

what is the name of school you teach at? i want to kow to make sure that I do NOT take a job there. i currently teach at a high school in nyc but am looking for a new school because, like you, i've had no support from the admin. Thanks for sharing your story. It's complete bullshit that you're getting a U rating. Good luck!!!! HANG IN THERE! email me at manhattan111 at gmail dot com with name of school if you don't want to post on your blog. i do NOT want to work there ... EVER.

Anonymous said...

The union (UFT)is in the "bed" with the administration. The
Bloomberg/Klein dynasty has given power to the principals that is unprecedented and dangerous.
Besides destroying staff moral and the academic high schools in minority communities, they harass senior teachers by giving them U's.
Testing is not the only way to assess progress with children. Overtesting is making students frustrated . Teachers need to unite in a class action suit against the NYCDOE. Most are too frightened to speak up.The bottom will fall out of the system and the truth will be told.There should be an investigation of the
unfair labor practices by the Department of Labor and the Attorney General's office.

Anonymous said...

After reading this blog, I am completely frustrated and crestfallen. I have my U-rating hearing in a few weeks and I feel HOPELESS.

Last year I was a FIRST YEAR teacher at a middle school in East Flatbush. The administration was making major changes and a new principal took over in October. This newbie was completely incompetent and a TOTAL BULLY (a much more detailed and revealing post will be written so that I can further expose all corruption and unethical practices of this principal and administrative faculty).

Anyway, I went practically the entire year without any formal observations, and when I finally got ONE--IN MAY, it was an S rating (by my AP). Then the first week of June my Principal walks into my worst class that I had been complaining about all year, FIVE MINUTES before the end bell, I literally was having a breakdown and the kids were LEAPING across the room. My colleague had seen me practically in tears, walks in and helps me get them settled, we start talking, he is calming me down, and this is when my principal walks in and then writes it up as a formal observation, gives me a U, and misquotes our conversation (and includes it in the written evaluation). Then he calls me into my office telling me I will be discontinued. He also tells me I will be getting a "D" rating... then finds out that I MUST get a U rating for THE YEAR in order for him to discontinue me. SO that is what happened.

What is ridiculous is that we both agreed I was NOT A GOOD FIT there. I had even said "I absolutely am HAPPY NOT TO EVER COME BACK HERE". But hours later he discovers he cannot discontinue me without a U for the year (but only have ONE U lesson obs) so then from that point on he changed my yearly report and gave me a U. ANd that was that. And I was discontinued and basically the entire faculty of my building with the exception of the admins found it absolutely absurd. I had everyone backing me saying how totally EVIL the situation was.

And here I am, 30 years old, career began and ended in one year. Self-esteem essentially destroyed and I am completely FAITHLESS AND HOPELESS. To say the system is flawed is a gross understatement.

I can't fight them, they are a force greater than all things holy.