Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gag Order

As I mentioned in the previous post, Assistant Principals are soliciting statements from my students for the purpose of bringing me up on charges of verbal abuse. These charges, of course, are ridiculous, and I am convinced that I could beat them in a 3020a hearing. But in the mean time I am the target of an ever growing witch hunt.

I live in the neighborhood where I teach and often bump into parents of my students on the street or in neighborhood stores. I am convinced that these parents have no idea that their children have been asked to write these statements or that the children can be called to testify in a 3020a hearing. The children themselves just think it's a game, and have no idea of the serious consequences of their actions.

In order to be able to read the statements which are the source of the charges, I have been forced to sign confidentiality agreements prohibiting me from revealing the contents of these statements to anyone but my counsel. In other words, I can't talk to the parents of a student about a problem in my class if the problem is mentioned in the kid's statement or in another kid's statement.

I suspect that if most parents knew that their children were writing and signing statements like these without their knowledge, they would be very upset.

I would like to know if anyone out there has had any experience with tactics like these. Is it legal to ask kids to write these statements without the knowledge of their parents? It seems to me that confidentiality agreement or not, I should be able to report this abuse of parental rights to someone. Would talking to my elected representatives in my district constitute a violation of the confidentiality agreement? How about the ACLU? How about Parent's Rights Groups?

I really need help, because these statements are interfering with my students' science education.

12 comments:

Chaz said...

Bad news. There is not much you can do. Calling the parents will be interfering in an investigation and the DOE will add that to your charges.

As for the ACLU or your elected officials, don't waste your time.

The best you can do is write out your rebuttal statements to yourself while the incidents are fresh in your mind.

Deny any accusations, let them prove it at the 3020-a hearing where many of the parents won't let their children attend. Make sure your lawyer contacts the parents beforehand to let them know that their children will be cross-examined by your side.

Until then sit tight and prepare for a year of two of being in the "rubber room" with full pay!

Anonymous said...

Yes, what Chaz said is correct. I was in a situation where the principal agitated the parents to make bogus complaint against me. I believe that it is outside the scope of authority for a principal to do such thing.
The only way to stop DoE is to take them to court, not just a few individual teachers, but many individual teachers. By then DoE will be flooded with lawsuit, they will have no choice but to scale down their illegal activities of framing teachers.

moriah said...

Ok, I'll have to learn patience.

However, I it looks like I'm going to have time to waste. So the politicians and the ACLU are going to hear from me whether that does any good or not.

Fidgety said...

You don't have to call the parents but others can...

Anonymous said...

The two best tools any principal has are A 420 and A 421, they can literally frame any teacher at short period of time with impunity. 3020 A arbitrators have no authority to sanction a lying principal, except to discount their bogus stories.
As a teacher with DoE, our advantage is our number as DoE can possibly discipline too many teachers at the same time. our disadventage is also our number, as only a small number of teachers are in trouble at any given time, most teachers are passive lookers as they either do not believe the simiar situation will visit them, or they are too busy to get by the day.
If enought of us take DoE to court, they have to slow down, or to be less arrogant.

Chaz said...

anon is correct about A-420 and A-421. Refer to my post about the two Chancellor regulations. They can charge you with anything. However, at the 3020-a hearing they then need to prove it.

Anon is also correct about the 3020-a arbitrator cannot penalize a lying administrator. The arbitrator can only discount the testimony as not credible.

Finally, be very careful about having other staff approach the students and parents. They can be disciplined for interfering an investigation. Let your lawyer do this.

moriah said...

I need to be able to talk to the parents of my students--some of the worst ones are those that have written statements against me. Even though I don't make any reference to the content of the statements or to the fact that students have written them, something might be said by the parent or the student.

I am also in the awkward position of having close neighbors involved. What do I say when a neighbor asks me how their son or daughter is doing?

Most teachers live miles away. I live a few minutes' walk. My neighborhood is like a small town.

The concerted effort on the part of the administration to destroy my professional reputation will eventually spill out into the community no matter what agreements have been signed. These are thirteen year olds and the statements are not being written by individual students, but are being solicited from whole classes by administrators.

Woodlass said...

Sorry I'm only getting to read this now....

Getting children involved in all of this sounds very much like Miller's The Crucible, doesn't it?

More questions: Does anyone know about what kind of protections children have from manipulative school systems? At the very least, parents must be told that the kids made statements. Does the confidentiality statement involve the name of the child, or what they said, or both? Your lawyer must know of way around this so that the CHILDREN are protected as much from this event as you are. (ACLU good choice, if you can get them to answer your letters.) You may wish to contact your congressperson: two that I have lobbied for in the past year are very interested in what happens in schools: Nydia Velazquez, Lower Manh. and Queens, the 12th Congressional (we brought up criminalization of the classroom in one Washington trip) and Naomi Rivera, Bronx (visited her office at the last lobby day with the UFT, her aide gave me this no. 518/455-5844 to reach him. He said education issues was one of her special interests).

And what do CHILDREN know about your skills as a teacher anyway? This not an abuse charge. So now we're condoning a set-up where students are called upon to interpret a teacher words or actions?

Woodlass said...

I'm so sorry, I just re-read the first line of your blog where it says there was an issue of verbal abuse, in their opinion. When I wrote my comment, I was thinking of 3020a on skills alone.

That discounts of a lot of what I said except for the whole issue of exploiting children, which I believe strongly needs some exploration in these times of Kleinberg and his "solutions" for expunging staff.

I do think we could begin to broaden out and confer with a range of people, including representatives, to protect children from manipulation.

Please contact me if you think this needs further exploration: excessed101 at gmail.com.

Woodlass said...

I'm so sorry, I just re-read the first line of your blog where it says there was an issue of verbal abuse, in their opinion. When I wrote my comment, I was thinking of 3020a on skills alone.

That discounts of a lot of what I said except for the whole issue of exploiting children, which I believe strongly needs some exploration in these times of Kleinberg and his "solutions" for expunging staff.

I do think we could begin to broaden out and confer with a range of people, including representatives, to protect children from manipulation.

Please contact me if you think this needs further exploration: excessed101 at gmail.com.

bernard n. shull said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

be very careful of contacting parents or children about your charges, DoE definitely will add aditional charges if you initiate contact and you will only complicate the situation for the worse. What DoE or principals do is to ruin your reputation, force you into their traps. you have to be able to sustain the reputation damages by not acting upon your impetus. It is a legal trap, or trap inside a trap.