Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bladder Problems

September 11 was not a very good day for me this year. Third period I had a science conference meeting that would lead to a disciplinary letter. (See posts for “Flashback to September 11” and “Repeatedly Refusing” Feb. 23 and 25, 2009). After school I had a meeting with Assistant Principal Zippo that would lead to another disciplinary letter (See Bathroom Emergencies” Feb. 22, 09). Eighth period three boys had bathroom emergencies. That would eventually lead to a charge of verbal and physical abuse and a disciplinary letter.

On October 7, 2009 I had a meeting with Principal P. in which she gave me student statements, which were the reason for her “investigation” I signed a confidentiality agreement that I could not reveal the names of the students or the content of their statements.

However, I did not sign a confidentiality agreement about not revealing the contents of Principal’s P’s disciplinary letter.

Here it is:

Dear Ms. Untamed,

On October 7, I met with you and your union representative, Mr. Baker to review an allegation against you that was made by Domingo Alvarez, Bernard Zagat, and Ajax Ahab. Specifically, it is alleged that on September 11, 2008 during periods 7 and 8 you did not acknowledge Domingo’s raised hand for 15 minutes. He stated that he needed to go to the bathroom and that it was an emergency. This is in violation of Chancellor’s Regulation A-430. You also ignored Bernard and Domingo ’s request to go to the bathroom, and later told them to go to the bathroom without a pass. Bernard, Domingo, and Ajax also stated that you announced to the class that they had bladder problems and told them that you would call their homes and tell their parents that they had bladder problems. Using language that includes words denoting a disability which tends to cause fear or physical or mental distress in violation of Chancellor’s Regulation A-421.

At our meeting, I shared with you the specific allegations made against you as stated above. I shared witness statements and gave you an opportunity to review these statements. Once you signed the privacy acknowledgment form, I gave you copies of all fourteen statements.

In response, you stated that you would respond in writing.

After reviewing the complaints against you, the complainant’s statement, the witnesses’ statements, and your written explanation, I conclude that you committed corporal punishment by ignoring the complainant Domingo Alvarez’s request to go to the bathroom for 15 minutes on September 11, 2008. This violates Chancellor’s Regulation A420 which prohibits corporal punishment. I also conclude that you did announce to the class that Domingo Alvarez, Bernard Zagat, and Ajax Ahab had bladder problems and that you were going to call their homes to inform their parents. This violates Chancellor’s Regulation A421 which prohibits verbal abuse.

I note that you were given a copy of Chancellor’s Regulations A-420 and A421 at our first faculty conference I September (see attached copy of your signed acknowledgement of receipt).

You are hereby advised that the above described conduct may lead to further disciplinary action, including an unsatisfactory rating, and disciplinary charges that could lead to the termination of your employment.

The letter has no date, but I signed the letter on October 27, 2008.

In response to the accusations, I wrote this letter to Principal P.

October 9,2008

Principal P,

I have carefully read the 14 statements you gave to me during our meeting on Tuesday, October 7, 2008.

I sincerely do not know how to reply to these statements, other than to say that they are heart-breakingly false and abusive. I am gravely concerned about the welfare of these children and wonder who influenced them to give such horribly false statements against a teacher they barely knew.

I was physically sickened when I read these statements. I felt faint and dizzy throughout the day and almost fainted during the passing between seventh and eighth periods. I continued to have dizzy spells until I reached home on Tuesday afternoon. Repeated false statements against me over a period of three years have subjected me to long-term stress. Long-term stress can eventually cause serious illness and even death.

I have made it abundantly clear to all students in all of my classes that they have permission to leave immediately without a pass if they have a bathroom emergency. I have reminded them of this policy every time that I see them. This is not verbal or physical abuse.

If a child has his or her hand up at a time when I am not ready take questions, I always tell them to put their hand down and wait until I am finished speaking—unless it’s an emergency. This is not verbal or physical abuse.

My students are aware that an emergency is caused by a problem of some kind. Parents need to know about any problems their child may have. It is not abusive to call a parent about academic problems. It is not abusive to call parents about bathroom problems.

I NEVER made the statement that any child has a bladder problem. I am not a urologist. I am not a health care professional. I have no way of knowing that a child has a bladder problem unless a parent or health-care professional tells me. The fact that you have so many students saying that I said things that I never said, just proves that you, or someone on your staff is manipulating children to make false statements.

The physical and mental welfare of my students is extremely important to me. I would never do anything to hurt them. I certainly would never lie about a child or teach a child to lie.

Anyone who encourages a child to lie is a child abuser, and does not belong in this or any other educational system.

You say it is your duty to report complaints of children against teachers. By the same token, it is my duty to report the criminal manipulation of children’s statements for the purpose of ending a teacher’s career.

Signed Moriah Untamed

Friday, February 27, 2009

Surfing in the Basement

Today I surfed the internet all day. I took a lot of notes, which I won’t burden you with—yet. But I will list the sites I liked the most.

1. The Black Factor (
“The black factor blog is a useful resource for any one who is working while black. The blog provides strategies for dealing with on-the-job racism and links to important resources”

I am white, but I find the advice useful for anyone who is being targeted no matter what the reason—race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, age, sex, or size your paycheck.

If you are white, you might be turned off by the way whites are portrayed in this blog. However, if you have suffered workplace discrimination of any kind for any reason, much of what is said will ring true—and could be extremely useful to you.

2. “Why Lies Multiply in False Allegation Cases”

3. “What is Defamation of Character”

4. Fighting Slander

5. Students Bullying Teachers

6. “Being Bullied by a Teacher?”

Bullying in Middle School

I'll link these websites later.

Tomorrow I'm going to a meditation retreat. I've started my Untamed Wellness Program,
and meditation is a big part of it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference

This afternoon the rest of the teachers were talking to parents. I was in the basement working on "summative assessments".

After school a group of us went to distribute leaflets at a nearby subway station. Clyde Baker, the chapter leader handed out little white hats with UFT stitched in blue on the front.

The leaflet read RALLY FOR NEW YORK in big letters. The names of the sponsoring unions were in tiny little letters at the bottom of the leaflet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Repeatedly Refusing

I am continuing the letter I started on February 23 "Flashback to September 11" in which I respond to a disciplinary letter from Ms. Rotula.

Ms. Rotula’s letter(continued)

An agenda item of the Science department meeting was the departmental pacing calendar. We discussed the importance of clearly identifying the essential learning outcomes of the science curriculum and of teachers following the pacing calendar to ensure that all students have learned key concepts that will be tested on the uniform interim departmental summative assessments.

Moriah’s response

During the summer of 2008 Mr. Gordon, (one of the junior members of the science department) developed a pacing calendar based on the textbook, New York Science published by McGraw Hill Glencoe. He basically took the textbook and divided it throughout the school year. The first two weeks of the pacing calendar that he developed are as follows”

WEEK ONE (9/1/09)

Set-up Notebooks

WEEK TWO (9/8/08)

Coastal Plains
Interior Plains
Folded Mountains
Upwarped Mountains
Fault Block Mountains
Volcanic Mountains
Weathering and Soil Formation
Mechanical Weathering
Ice Wedging
Plants and Animals
Chemical Weathering
Plant Acids
Effect of Oxygen
Parent Rock
Slope of the land
Erosion of Earth’s Surface
Agents of Erosion
Rock Slides
Glacial Erosion
Effects of Glacial Erosion
Glacial Deposition
Sheet flow
Rills and Gullies
Shaping Earth’s Surface
Effects of Erosion

I asked if this timeline was suggested or fixed. Mr. Gordon said “suggested”, but you corrected him and said that we had to follow the pacing calendar as written because it had already “been approved.”

I then said that the content of the pacing calendar in the second week was extremely dense and that there was no time for inquiry and/or hands on labs. It seemed to me that packing so much material into the first week of instruction would turn students off to science rather than engaging their interest during this important time of the school year.

Ms Rotula’s letter (continued)

During the science department meeting you stated, “I cannot follow the pacing calendar because I teach Inquiry Science” and “I refuse to follow the pacing calendar”. When I said that I will meet with you after the department meeting, you said, “I don’t have to meet with you.”

Moriah’s response

I did not “refuse” to teach according to the pacing calendar. I just shared my expertise that it was unrealistic to expect students—especially those with lower-level reading skills—to cover that much material in one week. I also shared that teaching through inquiry is encouraged by the National Science Foundation. I also stated that the first week of instruction should be a time when students are motivated through hands-on activities. This is not a good time for chalk, talk, and test. Finally, I said that it wasn’t necessary to speak to you after the meeting, because I didn’t have anything else to say on the subject.

Ms. Rotula’s letter (continued)

During the September 22, 2008 meeting I asked, “Why did you continuously interrupt the Science department meeting after I specifically told you that I would address your concerns after the meeting?” Mr. Baker responded “I don’t know if we are able to respond to it at this time.” You said. “You’re alleging that I interrupted the Science meeting. Mr. Baker responded by stating, “We will respond in writing.” I also asked, “Why did you state, “I won’t be meeting with you, I’m teaching Inquiry Science.” You sat and refused to respond by not saying anything.

Moriah’s response

Your question “Why did you continuously interrupt the Science department meeting after I specifically told you that I would address your concerns after the meeting” is based on a false assumption and therefore cannot be answered. You are alleging that I continuously interrupted the meeting. That is a false allegation.

Your question, “Why did you state, “I won’t be meeting with you, I’m teaching Inquiry Science?” is based on an incorrect quote and therefore cannot be answered. What is more, I wasn’t aware that you were ordering me to meet with you. I didn’t think it was necessary, and said so.

Ms. Rotula’s letter (continued)

Based upon my review of the incident and your responses, I conclude that in your statement in your statement you refuse to follow the science department pacing calendar and refuse to meet with me constitute conduct unbecoming a professional. Additionally, please be informed all science teachers are required to follow the school science pacing calendar.

Moriah’s response:

I am surprised that you neglected to mention one more incident in which I interrupted the meeting. It was at the very beginning when we were discussing pre and post testing (the uniform interim departmental summative assessments, as you put it). Mr. Gordon had told us at the professional development meetings that we must give our first pretest by the end of the first week. He suggested that we use questions from the textbook.

During the meeting of September 11, 2008, I suggested to you and to the other members of the science department that we develop pre and post tests with questions from past 8th grade science exams. All of the exams are online at the following New York State Education Department website. They not only have the answers to each question, but they also have the specific standard that each question tests. I showed you a sample test that had been cut and pasted from several of the 8th grade exams. I also showed you the "Intermediate Level Science Core Curriculum Grades 5-8".

It was my understanding that the whole point of the “uniform interim departmental summative assessments” was to more precisely identify areas of strength and weakness for each student. In order to do that, we need to know what each question is testing. Because you wanted to start pre and post testing immediately, I suggested that we use tests that had already been aligned to the standards.

You did take my advice without acknowledging my contribution. On election day Mr. Gordon brought in “The Intermediate Level Science Core Curriculum” and copies of the last eight 8th grade science exams with the instructions to cut questions from these exams and paste them into unit tests.

I said during the election day meeting that we still needed to know which standard was represented by each question. Mr. Seray, the other 7th grade science teacher, and I made a chart that listed all the standards and the questions that tested them.

On the first day that I was reassigned to the basement conference room (February 6,2009), you requested that I electronically cut questions from the 8th grade science exams and paste them into unit tests for the seventh grade. Ironically, you are asking me to do what I volunteered to do back on September 11, 2008, when, according to you, I was continually interrupting and repeatedly refusing.

Ms. Rotulla’s letter (continued)

Please be advised that any repetition of the conduct you demonstrated during the Science department meeting may lead to further disciplinary action that may include an unsatisfactory rating and your termination.

Moriah’s response

You have directed me to refrain from sharing my expertise with other educators, and you have threatened me with termination if I continue to do so. You have therefore established a top-down management style that refuses to allow the free exchange of ideas among educators.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meeting with Zippo

Today I had a meeting with Zippo who is "investigating" charges of verbal abuse against me. He gave me statements by ten students which contradicted each other. For the first time I was glad to get negative statements. They're actually going to help my case.

More on these statements tomorrow.

I just got back from an introductory class in martial arts. I now know how to throw somebody on the floor if they grab my arm. However, I've used muscles I haven't used in a long time, and I'm looking forward to taking a Tylenol and getting in bed.

NOTE FROM MORIAH: Although I promised to address the statements "tomorrow", as of Sunday, March 1, 2009 I have not referred to them. I have been answering charges from the beginning of the year. When I do get to these charges I will link this post to my rebuttal.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flashback to September 11


Dear Ms. Rotula,

I am writing this letter to respond to your letter of October 6, 2008. I will quote your letter in its entirety and respond in detail.

Ms. Rotula’s letter

Dear Ms. Untamed:

We met on Monday, September 22 at 3:00 PM in room 127 in the presence of your union representivative, Mr. Clyde Baker to discuss the unprofessional conduct you exhibited on Thursday, September 11, 2008.

Moriah’s response

I agree with the time and place of our meeting and the people attending it. However, your definition of unprofessional conduct as a science educator must clearly be different from mine.

The word unprofessional has the following meanings: not pertaining to or characteristic of a profession; at variance or contrary to professional standards or ethics; not done with professional competence; characteristic of an amateur; inexpert; not a qualified member of a professional group; not characteristic or befitting of a profession.

Synonyms for unprofessional are: amateur, inexperienced, inexpert, shoddy, sloppy, unethical, unprincipled, unskilled

According to this definition, I will demonstrate that I displayed professional conduct as a science educator; and you, unfortunately, did not.

Ms. Rotula’s letter

Specifically, you repeatedly interrupted a Science department conference despite my assurance to you that I would address your concerns after the meeting.

Moriah’s Response:

Your idea of a science department conference seems to be one in which you do all the talking and everyone else listens without comments or questions. You said that you “would address my concerns after the meeting”. That means that you were not allowing me to ask questions or make comments in front of the other members of the science department. Addressing my concerns outside the meeting would have isolated my input from the rest of the science department.

It is up to the educator leading a meeting to allow the other educators to voice questions and concerns during the meeting—not after the meeting.

Repeatedly means “over and over, often, frequently, many times, again and again.” It is a gross exaggeration to say that I repeatedly interrupted the meeting. I tried on two or three occasions to give input. Each time I tried, you interrupted me and prohibited me from participating.

In my opinion this is an unprofessional way for a science educator to run a meeting involving other educators.

To be continued tomorrow

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Most of us like to be able to plan ahead to some extent. We like to know where we'll be and what we'll be doing on this day at that time. It gives us a sense of control over our lives.

I suppose that tomorrow when I return to IS 666 after Midwinter Break, I'll be in the basement conference room, which will hereafter be referred to as the dungeon.

But I don't know, because Principal P is now in control. She and DOE can decide where my body will be between 8:00 and 3:00 Monday through Friday.

I used to have a schedule. I DID write lesson plans two or three weeks in advance, no matter what Principal P or anyone else says. I could more or less project when I would teach each lesson--what I would be doing on this day at that time.

Now I can't.

The day after tomorrow is Parent-Teacher Conferences---I think. Will I be asked to speak with parents? I don't know. I hope not.

I will try to write every day. I have been very bad about writing rebuttals to the charges against me. I have big backlog. So part of my time in the dungeon will be spent catching up.

When I first started this blog, I wanted to keep a very logical sequential journal of Principal P's letters and charges. It hasn't quite worked out that way. From now on I will be jumping back and forth in time as I try to respond to all the allegations against me. I apologize if it gets confusing. I know I'm confused.

I'm not DEPRAVED because I'm DEPRIVED. I CONFUSED because I'm ABUSED.

Bathroom Emergencies


Sept. 17, 2008

Mr. Zippo:

This letter is in reply to your letter dated September 12, 2008 which was given to me today, September, 17 2008.

On Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 3:00 PM, you met with me and my union representative, Mr. Clyde Baker, in your office, room 304, to discuss my actions and behavior; your actions and behavior; and the actions and behavior of Principal P during the opening week staff organizational meeting on Friday, August 29, 2008.

During our conversation you showed me a Power Point handout presented and distributed at the aforementioned meeting. You attached a copy of the Power Point handout to your letter. I have numbered each Power Point slide from 1 to 17 for easier reference.

You state in your letter that “We agreed that you had asked several questions and made comments regarding the student bathroom policy and Chancellor’s Regulations regarding Corporal Punishment and Verbal Abuse.

This is a false statement.

When you reached slide number 10, “Hallway/Bathroom Passes”, Mr. Clyde Baker raised his hand and asked a question. He asked if the bathrooms would be locked during passing. You replied that they would be locked. I then raised my hand. You called on me by name, giving me permission to speak. I commented that several years ago a child had soiled himself because he had not been able to reach a bathroom because the bathrooms were all locked during passing, and during the first and last ten minutes of each period. A teacher had been blamed for the incident, had been brought up on charges, and had been removed from the school. My question was: How can I avoid being brought up on charges, like my colleague, Adila Hassan? The rules remain the same. The bathrooms are locked at certain times, and we are being asked to limit the use of passes. I am not a mind-reader, and don’t know if a child has an emergency unless he or she tells me; I also don’t know if it is a real emergency. If it truly is a real emergency, then the child might not have time to wait for a pass to be written out. It has been my policy, after Ms. Hassan was brought up on charges, to allow children who say that they have an emergency to leave the classroom without a pass. You agreed that this might be necessary, and I was satisfied that I had permission to continue with this policy, and said nothing further about Ms. Hassan or bathroom passes.

There was a total of two questions asked about bathroom and hall passes: One from Mr. Baker, and one from me. The total question and answer time regarding bathroom passes was less than five minutes.

After my comment about Ms. Hassan’s case, you appeared agitated. You said that there was very little time left and there should be no more questions or comments during the meeting. All questions and comments should be made in private and not in the public forum of the faculty meeting.

I had no more questions until you reached slide 15, “Verbal Abuse”, Chancellors Regulations A-421.”

You read from the behaviors which could cause a teacher to be reported immediately online to the Office of Special Investigations.

1. Language that tends to cause fear or physical or mental distress.
2. Language that includes words denoting racial, ethnic, religious, gender, disability, or sexual orientation which tends to cause fear or physical or mental distress.
3. Language that tends to threaten physical harm.
4. Language that tends to belittle or subject students to ridicule.

I raised my hand. You and Principal P repeated that you did not have time for teachers to ask questions. I asked: Are you sure that we do not have time to discuss questions about a regulation that could end a teacher’s career?

Principal P came over to me and told me to stop talking immediately. I said nothing more to you or to her until our meeting of Sept. 11, 2008.

The total of time in which you allowed questions from teachers during the faculty meeting was less than five minutes.

You say that I asked questions about Verbal abuse. What were they? You never heard them. You never allowed me to ask them, and I did not bother to ask them in a private meeting, because these are questions that should be addressed in public, not in private. Chancellor’s Regulations on Corporal Punishment, and Verbal Abuse can result in the destruction of a teacher’s career. If anyone has questions, they should be heard. Time should be allowed for questions, comments, and discussion during staff meetings on serious issues such as these.

In your letter, you state: “…therefore you continued to ask questions and make comments at the meeting after repeated requests to refrain.”

This is a false statement.

You and Principal P appeared very agitated when I referred to Ms. Hassan’s case. Perhaps it seemed to you that the exchange was longer than it really was. However, my questions and comments about bathroom passes were made with your permission, and were short and to the point. What is more, as Mr. Baker stated in our meeting, all teachers need to understand how to operate within your rules so as not to cause harm to children and/or lose their jobs. The only other question that I asked was: Are you sure that we do not have time to ask questions about a Regulation that can cause a teacher to be dismissed?

I asked no further questions because I was ordered to stop speaking by you and by Principal P.

You stated: “I reminded you that despite repeated directives from the administration, you continued to interrupt the meeting and call out.”

This is a false statement.

I asked one question with permission, and you gave me an answer that satisfied that question.

I called out one other question: Are sure that we do not have time to address a Regulation that could end a teacher’s career?

You state in your letter that you asked me why I had continued to interrupt the meeting and call out.

Your question was based on a false premise. I had not continued to interrupt the meeting and call out. There were no questions before slide 10. There was a short question and answer session after slide 10—totaling less than 5 minutes. And there was one question after slide 15 “Are you sure we don’t have time for questions about a regulation that can end a teacher’s career”?

There was no continued calling out. There was no continued interruptions. These are false statements.

You state that “your behavior at the meeting on August 29, 2008, constituted insubordination when you disobeyed the administration’s repeated direction to hold additional comments for a later time, and disrupted the meeting by repetitively calling out.”

This is a false statement.

My questions about bathroom policy were concise and to the point. There was no repetition. They were made with permission.

My question: Are you sure that there is not enough time for questions?” was not repetitive, was not disruptive, was not insubordinate, was not disobedient.

On the contrary, your refusal to allow time for appropriate questions and comments from staff during a staff meeting shows that the administration of I.S. 666 insists on one-way, top-down communication, and does not welcome, but in fact punishes questions, comments and feedback from teachers and other staff members.

Moriah Untamed September 17, 2008

2008-2009 Overview

August 29, 2008

During a Faculty Conference Assistant Principal Roy Zippo states that no students are to be allowed to go to the bathroom periods 1 and 8 unless its an emergency. I ask a question about allowing student with bathroom emergencies to leave without a pass. Principal P tells me to stop interrupting the Faculty Conference.(See Post February 22, 2009 "Bathroom Emergencies)

September 2, 2008

I explain “Bathroom Rule” to students. They may leave without a pass if they have an emergency, but if they abuse this privilege, or if I think they are sick, I will notify their parents. We discuss various illness that could make a person need to go to the bathroom more often: diabetes, bladder and kidney problems.

September 8, 2008

Students from class 7H call out the word “CHEESEBURGER” over and over again as I lead them out of the building during a fire drill.

September 9, 2008

A student in 7I throws ink all over two other students, the floor, and the walls.

September 11, 2008

1. Science department meeting with Betty Rotula. I am not allowed to comment or ask questions.

2. Meeting with A.P. Ron Zippo to discuss my actions and behavior on August 29, 2008. Union Rep. Claude Baker present. I am accused of being unprofessional because I asked about rules for bathroom emergencies. (See Post February 22, 2009 "Bathroom Emergencies")

3. Three boys from class 7H have a bathroom emergency at the same time during eighth period . I allow them to leave without a pass and make a note on the section sheet.

September 12, 2008

In a letter dated Sept. 12. Mr. Zippo makes the following conclusion “…you demonstrated unprofessional conduct by interrupting the staff presentation at the meeting. Your actions set a poor example of behavior and decorum for others.” (See Post February 22, 2009 "Bathroom Emergencies".

September 17, 2008

I reply to letter about Zippo’s letter defending myself from false allegations.(See Post February 22, 2009 "Bathroom Emergencies".

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I am absent because of chest pains.

Students from class 7H write statements alleging that on September 11, 2008 while 3 boys were out of classroom due to Bathroom Emergency I made fun of them and said they had a bladder control problem.

In my absence, someone starts a rumor that I have been fired for saying that a student has a bladder control problem.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I am told by students in 7H that students were saying that I had been fired because I supposedly had made fun of students who had a bathroom emergency.

I have students in 7H write statements about Ms. Untamed’s bathroom rules.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Curriculum Night: Parents ask questions about Bathroom Emergencies.

October 7, 2008

Meeting with Principal P. in which I am accused of verbal and physical abuse based on statements of students in 7H.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Pre-Observation meeting with Ms. Betty Rotula

Friday, October 17, 2008

First Formal Observation by Assistant Principal Betty Rotula: Class 7G

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Four boys in class 7B call MADELENE BENDERS a cow. MADELENE comes up after class and tells me that they are talking about parts of her body, specifically her breasts. The boys are SILAS PAJECO, HOWARD MAHAN, JAREL LANSIN, and ALAN PLEET. I give out detention notices for all four boys for Friday, October 24.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Post-Observation Conference with A.P. Betty Rotula. Lesson was Unsatisfactory.

Friday, October 24, 2008

After school detention with four boys: SILAS PAJECO, HOWARD MAHAN, JAREL LANSIN, and ALAN PLEET. I talk to them about insulting MADELENE. JAREL tell me that MADELENE has also insulted them by calling them gay. SILAS PAJECO threatens to get me fired by accusing me of doing "something" and then having his friends back him up. "Nobody will believe you".

Monday, October 27, 2008

I give the Dean a Referral in which I report SILAS PAJECO'S threat.

Wednesday October 29, 2008

I meet with SILAS PAJECO'S mother and the Dean to discuss SILAS PAJECO'S threat and how he can do better in class.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I contact MADELENE'S mother re: classwork and back and forth insults with boys.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I give a test to 7B. All students have scantrons on the desk. SILAS PAJECO, HOWARD MAHAN, and ALAN PLEET keep calling out comments. I give each boy a piece of paper and suggest they write down their comments rather than disturbing other students during the test.

Friday, November 7, 2008
Students enter my class screaming "change has come, MS. UNTAMED is going to get fired"
Principal P enters my classroom and asks for my lesson plan. I give it to her.

Friday, November 7 through Sunday, November 10

I arrange to make home visits to after students in 702 enter screaming that change has come and that kids are going to get me fired. I visit the homes of ALAN PLEET, HOWARD MAHAN, and JAREL LANSIN

Monday, November 10, 2008

I am told to go to the basement conference room and wait for an investigator who is coming from the DOE. I have no idea of why I am being investigated.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I remain assigned to the conference room.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I remain assigned to the conference room

Thursday, November 12, 2008

I remain assigned to the conference room

Friday, November 14, 2008

I am told to go back to the classroom on Monday, Nov. 17, 2009.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I meet with Assistant Principal Toni Xavier. I am accused of grabbing Howard Mahan's hand on November 3, 2008. He is one of the boys who were present in the after school detention when SILAS PAJECO threatened me on October 24. He was also one of the boys in 7B who were calling out during the test. Union Rep. Claude Baker present.

December 3, 2008

I receive a letter to my file accusing me of verbal abuse against students in 7B on Friday, November 7,2008.

December 11, 2008

Pre-observation Conference with Ms. Betty Rotula.

December 16, 2008

Formal Observation of Class 7G by A.P. Betty Rotula

December 22, 2008

Post Observation conference with Ms. Betty Rotula. Lesson was Unsatisfactory

Friday, February 6, 2009

I am removed from the classroom a second time by Principal P. I am directed to sit in the basement conference room and to not interact with any students, or leave the conference room except to go to lunch.

I go home after lunch.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I remain confined to the basement conference room.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I remain confined to the basement conference room

Wednesday, Februrary 11, 2009

I remain confined to the basement conference room

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I remain confined to the basement conference room

I meet with Principal P regarding an allegation of verbal abuse. I am accused of calling children animals.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I remain confined to the basement conference room

Monday, February 23, 2009

Confined to basement conference room

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meeting with Zippo about charges of incident with 7B on February 6, the day I was removed from class.

This page will remain under construction as I add key dates and events, and as I link it to my rebuttal statements.

2007-2008 U Rating

My second Unsatisfactory Annual Performance Review came at the end of the 2007-2008 school year. As you will see, there was an escalation of disciplinary letters, and a drastic deterioration of student behavior.

1. Accusation: Incompetence
Date of Incident: Thursday, September 6, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
September 8, 2007
“Unceasing Fire”

2. Accusation: Absence from Work;
Date of Incident: Wednesday, September 25, 2007; Thursday, September 27, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
October 8, 2007
“Accounting Minutes”

3. Accusation: Incompetence; Failure to Produce a Lesson Plan on Demand
Date of Incident: Friday, October 5, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
October 19, 2007
“Meet Me Afterschool”

4. Accusation: Verbal Abuse
Date of Incident: Friday, November 16, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
December 4, 2007
“Kids First”

5. Accusation: Poor Judgement; Unprofessional Statements and Conduct
Date of Incident: Friday,December 14, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
December 20, 2007
“Randy Dandy”
“Harass This”
January 18, 2008
“Que Sera Sera”

6. Accusation: Poor Judgement; Unprofessional Statements and Conduct
Date of Incident: Friday, December 21, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

7. Accusation: Incompetence. Failure to Provide a Written Lesson Plan
Date of Incident: Monday, January 14, 2008 and Thursday, January 17, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

8. Accusation: Incompetence—Unsatisfactory Observation
Date of Incident: Friday, February 1, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

9. Accusation: Verbal Abuse and Unprofessional Conduct
Date of Incident: Friday, February 29, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

10. Accusation: Unprofessional Conduct
Date of Incident: Monday, March 3, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

11. Accusation: Unprofessional Conduct
Date of Incident: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

12. Accusation: Incompetence—Unsatisfactory Observation
Date of Incident: Friday, March 14, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

13. Accusation: Verbal Abuse and Misconduct
Date of Incident: Thursday, March 20, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher: None Published

14. Accusation: Verbal Abuse
Date of Incident: May 8, 2008
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
June 18, 2008
“Cockroaches and Ancestors”

Unfortunately, I stopped giving detailed replies to allegations in January of 2008. I wasn’t trying to hide anything. It just got harder and harder to write the replies. In hindsight, I think I was getting very depressed. I was tired all the time, and just didn’t want to deal with writing about school on nights and weekends. What is more, the second semester is very busy for 8th grade science teachers because we are preparing kids for the 8th grade science exam and helping them do their Science Exit Projects.

I did reply to the allegations by writing on the letter itself. I had a bad experience in my hearing because none of my well-written, detailed replies were allowed into evidence. I didn’t want them to have the alternative of hiding my replies, so I wrote them in every empty space I could find on the letter of accusation.

I will slowly start posting my replies to these allegations on an alternative blog that I will link to this one.

2006-2007 U-rating

My last post, “Back to School 2006” details the first in a series of disciplinary letters and U-rated observations that ultimately led to the first Unsatisfactory Annual Performance Review of my career. I wrote lengthy replies to each accusation.

1. Accusation: Insubordination and Conduct Unbecoming a Professional Educator.
Date of Incident: August 31, 2006.
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
Saturday, February 21, 2009;
“Back to School 2006”

2. Accusation: Incompetence. Failure to Produce a Lesson Plan on Demand.
Date of Incident: October 24, 2006
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
August 16, 2007;
“Unobservant Principal”

3. Accusation: Incompetence; Unsatisfactory Lesson
Date of Observation: December 19, 2006
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
August 17, 2007
“HIV Unscripted”

4. Accusation: Incompetence; Unsatisfactory Lesson
Date of Observation: February 16, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
August 18, 2007
“Third Unsatisfactory Observation

5. Accusation: Incompetence; Failure to Produce a Lesson Plan on Demand
Date of Incident: March 22, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
August 19, 2007
“Undisciplined Lies”

6. Accusation: Incompetence; Unsatisfactory Lesson
Date of Incident: May 29, 2007
Reply to Charges Published on Untamed Teacher:
August 19, 2007
“Uninformed and Inflexible”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back To School 2006

I enjoyed the Summer of 2006 very much. The only thing that marred it was the terrible experience my friend, Adila, was going through (See my post for June 22, 2008 “Blowing the Whistle”).

I don’t know if Principal P. expected me to transfer to another school. She had sent a warning to the whole staff by “investigating” ELEVEN abuse allegations. Two teachers were sent to the rubber room as a result. One of them was my friend, Adila. Other teachers, including myself, had the allegations resolved as “poor judgement” or as unfounded. I decided to return, because I still thought that Principal P. was only temporary and I could outlast her. I had outlasted six principals in my career by just going into my classroom, shutting the door, and doing my job.

The first day back I found out that I had a traveling program, and that I would be teaching seventh grade instead of eighth. That was fine with me. I hadn’t traveled in five years, and it was my turn. (A “traveling” teacher is not assigned to one single classroom, but must travel from one room to another during the school day. It is harder to teach that way, so teachers rotate. Some years they teach out of a single classroom, other years they travel).

At 2:30 PM on August 31, 2006 Principal P. called me down to her office. She demanded that I give her keys to the classroom I had occupied. I had turned them in at the end of the 2005-2006 school year when she made me go into her office alone with her to pick up my last disciplinary letter (See my last post, “POOR”). I had another set, of course, so I offered to make copies. She went off the wall, started screaming at me that I was being insubordinate, and got on the loud speaker and summoned my Clyde Baker, my UFT rep.

I went home and wrote everything down immediately. I knew this would develop into a charge of insubordination. I e-mailed my UFT District Rep my anecdotal account. The next day I put a letter in Principal P.’s mailbox.

September 1, 2006

Dear Principal P.,

This is in reference to the letter of insubordination that you threatened me with today, August 31, 2006.

At approximately 2:30 pm you called me into your office and demanded that I give you the keys to classroom 327 (my classroom last year). I thought that I had given them to you at the end of the school year when you gave me my paystubs. However, you obviously didn't have them, so I said to you " O.K., I'll get my copies and make others." My mind was on solving the problem of giving you the keys.
You started yelling at me that I was prohibited from copying Board of Education keys and that I was to give you the keys immediately. I tried to tell you I didn't have them on me, but you kept interrupting me, screaming that you wanted the keys immediately. You then called my UFT representative, Clyde Baker and while he was coming, I took everything out of my purse and silently laid the contents on a table in your office. When you saw by my actions that I did not have the keys in my purse, you then told me to get out of your office. Mr. Baker arrived, and I asked him to bear witness that I did not have the keys in my possession. He looked at the contents of my purse on the desk, and verified this fact. You screamed at me to get out of your office, so I left my purse and the contents and left the office. Then you screamed at me to come back in and get my purse. So I did.
At every moment I was trying to do what you told me to do, but you wouldn't allow me to communicate with you. I feel that I have been falsely accused and verbally abused.
I have worked for the Board of Education for more than 20 years and have never had a problem with passing the keys on to the next teacher. I was unaware that I was not allowed to copy keys. I usually do keep a copy in case the keys get lost. However, in this circumstance, I have searched for both the original keys that I thought I had left with you and I have searched for the copies. As of 7:30am on September 1, 2006, I have not been able to find the keys to 627. I believe I left the originals in your office on June 28, 2006. I made the copies at some point in the past three years. It is possible that I gave them to one of the other teachers that shared the room with me. I will continue to look for the copies, I think I left the originals with you.


Moriah Untamed

On October 30, 2006 I received a letter accusing me of insubordination.

It took me a while to respond. I hate writing these letters of response. It takes forever, because I get so upset while I’m writing them, that I have to take many time-outs.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dear Principal P,

This is in reference to your letter of October 30, 2006, which discusses an incident which took place on August 31, 2006 at approximately 2:30 PM. I wrote you a letter about this incident the very same night and put it in your box the next day. Your letter was written two months after the fact. These letters show two very different versions of the events that took place that day. I will present your version and mine, and then comment on the differences.

Principal P.’s version: “On August 31, 2006 at approximately 2:30 pm I requested that you come to my office. When you arrived at my office, I asked you for the keys to room 327. You stated ‘I will make copies and bring them to you tomorrow’.”

Moriah’s version: “This is in reference to the letter of insubordination that you threatened me with today, August 31, 2006. At approximately 2:30 pm you called me into your office and demanded that I give you the keys to classroom 327 (my classroom last year). I thought that I had given them to you at the end of the school year when you gave me my paystubs. However, you obviously didn’t have them, so I said to you, ‘OK, I’ll get my copies and make others.’ My mind was on solving the problem of giving you the keys.

Moriah’s comment:
We both agree that you called me to your office on August 31, 2006 at 2:30 pm in reference to a set of classroom keys. I think that it is reasonable to ask why you, the principal of the school, thought it was necessary to personally address an issue as petty as the whereabouts of a set of keys. You have custodians, secretaries, assistant principals, and other staff members to deal with such things. Why did you feel that you had to take personal charge of this matter?
The first thing you said to me on the first day of school was, “Give me the keys”. On this we both agree. You did not say, “How was your summer,” or “Welcome back.” Just “Give me the keys”. This is evidence of that the tone you used in our first meeting of the year was, to say the least, very abrupt.
We both agree that I said I would make copies of the keys and bring them to you the next day. This is evidence that I was trying my best to comply with your demands.

Principal P.’s version: “I responded that it would not be necessary for you to make copies of the keys and that the teacher assigned to that room needed the keys. I again asked for the keys. You stated ‘I will make copies and give them to you tomorrow.’” I then informed you that that I did not think that you would be able to make copies of Board of Education keys and that I would prefer that the custodian make the copies and I asked for the keys again. You again stated, ‘I will make copies of the keys and give them to you tomorrow.’ I then told you that you were being insubordinate and that I would like for you to give me the keys.

Moriah’s version: “You started yelling at me that I was prohibited from copying Board of Education keys and that I was to give you the keys immediately. I tried to tell you I didn’t have them on me, but you kept interrupting me, screaming that you wanted the keys immediately.”

Moriah’s comments:

Your version lacks credibility on several points.

According to your letter, written two months after the fact, I kept repeating the same sentence over and over again like a robot. ‘I will make copies of the keys and give them to you tomorrow.’ This is not a very realistic scenario—the dialogue is very unconvincing. People don’t talk like that. However, even if I had repeated the same thing three times instead of once, there is no evidence of a lack of willingness on my part to cooperate with you.

There is no logical reason to threaten a person with insubordination because she is offering to make copies of some keys. However, according to your own testimony, that is what you did. You established a threatening tone while I was offering to help.
I stand by my version, which was written on the same day. I offered once to make copies of keys that I had at home. When I didn’t give you the keys immediately, you overreacted and began to threaten me with charges of insubordination. You may have gotten the idea that I kept refusing to give you the keys because I was shaking my head back and forth, but I was trying to communicate that I didn’t have them and I didn’t know where they were.

Because I did not have the keys in my possession, I was not being insubordinate when I did not give you the keys. On the contrary, I went out of my way to comply with your demands and cooperate fully with you.

Your false accusation of insubordination constituted verbal abuse, slander, and defamation of character.

Principal P’s version: “You began to scream in a very loud voice, ‘I do not have the keys.’ You then stomped over to the conference table in my office and began throwing the contents of your pocket book onto the conference table screaming loudly, ‘See, I do not have the keys’. Witnessing such inappropriate behavior, I asked you to gather your contents from the table and leave my office. You continued screaming loudly, ‘I do not have the keys’, and you continued throwing the contents of your pocketbook onto the table refusing to leave my office. I then called Clyde Baker, the union representative to my office. When your Mr. Baker entered the room, I again asked you to gather your contents from the table and leave my office. You began to leave the office without your pocketbook and its contents. I called you back and asked you to take your belongings with you, at which time you complied.

Moriah’s version: “I tried to tell you I didn’t have them on me, but you kept interrupting me, screaming that you wanted the keys immediately. You then called my UFT representative, Clyde Baker, and while he was coming, I took everything out of my purse and silently laid the contents on a table in your office. When you saw by my actions that I did not have the keys in my purse, you then told me to get out of your office. Mr. Baker arrived, and I asked him to bear witness that I did not have the keys in my possession. He looked at the contents of my purse on the desk, and verified this fact. You screamed at me to get out of your office, so I left my purse and the contents and left the office. Then you screamed at me to come back in and get my purse. So I did.

Moriah’s comments:
Your version lacks credibility for several reasons.
First, look at the script you have written for me.
“I will make copies and bring them to you tomorrow.” She said.
“I will make copies and bring them to you tomorrow.”She said.
“I will make copies and bring them to you tomorrow.” She said
“I do not have the keys.” She screamed.
“See, I do not have the keys.” She screamed.
“ I do not have the keys.” She screamed.
“I do not have the keys.” She screamed.

This is not realistic dialogue. It’s invented. You had to invent the dialogue because, there was none. After the first offer to copy the keys, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

What really happened was much closer to my version which was written that day. You were already in a bad mood when I got to your office. For some reason, you thought I was in possession of the keys. When I offered to get them copied, you jumped to the conclusion that I was refusing to give you the keys. When I didn’t comply with your demand immediately, you lost your temper. You threatened me. I tried to deny that I had the keys. You interpreted the shaking of my head as further refusal. You turned away from me, tuned me out, picked up the phone, and called my UFT Representative.

When it became impossible for me to reason with you, because you would not listen to me, I considered my choices. One choice would have been to raise my voice in order to try to make myself heard over your voice. I didn’t choose to do this because you were already threatening me with charges of insubordination. Raising my voice would just have given you more of an excuse to charge me. Besides, it was beginning to dawn on me for the first time that you thought that I had the keys and that I was refusing to give them to you. Another choice would have been to leave, but I had not been dismissed by you. That could be interpreted as insubordination as well. I was also concerned that if I left the office, I could no longer prove that I had never had the keys in the first place. You might accuse me of disposing of them when I got out of sight. So I chose to silently empty the contents of my purse one object at a time and gently lay them on the conference table in an effort to communicate to you nonverbally that I did not have the keys. I did not scream. I had no reason to. I knew that I didn’t have the keys. You couldn’t accuse me of insubordination if I had nothing to give you. There was no reason for me to give you an excuse to bring me up on charges. I did not utter a sound. I did not stomp. I did not throw the contents onto the conference table. I did not refuse to leave. All of this would have given you the chance to do what you obviously wanted to do—which was to charge me with insubordination. Keeping silent was my best defense. I did not open my mouth until my UFT Rep came in. When I saw him, I said to him desperately, “Clyde, please, please, tell her I don’t have the keys. Look in my bag, look in my pockets. Be my witness. I don’t have the keys.” That is when you told me to get out.

There is another point which does not ring true. The picture you have painted of me, is so unrealistic that it makes me look insane. If I had really behaved like that, you would have called security, not my UFT representative. For someone so intent on bringing charges against me, why did it take you two months to react to such behavior? You threatened me with charges of insubordination when I didn’t produce keys on demand; but you wait two months to write a letter about me screaming and throwing things. That is not realistic. It doesn’t ring true.

On the other hand, my version simply shows a principal who was in a bad mood and overreacted. It is too bad that you didn’t leave it at that. However, the false dialogue which you attribute to me is libelous and defamatory. Your letter represents a serious attack on my professional reputation.

Principal P’s version: During our meeting on October 12, 2006, I asked you about your actions on August 31, 2006. You refused to comment. Mr. Baker stated that you would respond in writing. I stated that you already had responded to the incident in writing. You looked surprised and said, “I did?” Mr. Baker then said he didn’t know that you had written me a letter. You said, “I don’t remember writing a letter”. Mr. Baker requested that I give him a copy of your letter. I asked Mr. Baker to get the letter from you. You stated that you probably had a copy of the letter in your computer and that you would give him a copy.

Moriah’s version: After I found the copies of the keys, I gave a set to my colleague, Ms. Needles and kept one for myself. I started teaching my classes and forgot the incident. I was frankly surprised when you called for the meeting. Why would you want to bring up an incident which was so embarrassing to you? When you asked me about the letter, I tried to give you a way out. You decided not to take it . Your letter is an embarrassing attempt to cover up your own unprofessional behavior, by turning it around and dumping it on an innocent person.

Principal P’s charges: I have concluded that the conduct you exhibited in failing to follow my directions and screaming at me constitutes insubordination and conduct unbecoming a professional educator. All staff members are to conduct themselves in a respectful, mature and professional manner.

Moriah’s charges: I have concluded that on August 31, 2006 at approximately 2:30 PM you verbally abused me. I was the victim of slanderous, defamatory language. On October 30, 2006 you wrote me a letter in which you falsely charged me with not following directions, screaming, and committing acts which I never did. Your charges of insubordination and conduct unbecoming a professional educator are without merit because they are based on false testimony. Your letter is libelous and defamatory. Your behavior is unbecoming a professional educator.

Signed: Moriah Untamed

So much for going into my classroom, shutting the door, and doing my job.

Friday, February 20, 2009


It’s not over till it’s over.

I had no sooner escaped the “Worm Killer” charge when Principal P. wrote me a letter informing me that I was being brought up on charges of verbal abuse again. I was to come to her office with my UFT representative this time.

At the meeting Principal P. gave me statements written by four boys from one of my more challenging classes. They accused me of calling them and their families poor. Not only that, but I had insulted one of their mothers.

OK, so now imagine Principal P. salivating as she goes over her list and checks it twice.

1. Pedagogical Incompetence—Oh yesssssssssss. You have to be pretty damned incompetent to ridicule a student for being poor.
2. Mental Disability—I’ve got her now. Crazy as a Coot.
3, 4, No Cigar
5. Insubordination—Maybe I can goad her into saying something insubordinate—or heck, just make something up.
6. Corporal Punishment—No cigar
7. Improper Remarks—Verbal abuse. There you go! I’m going to get rid of her along with Adila. No more tenured teachers in the science department. He He He
8 and 9 Who cares? I’ve got her now.

I told Principal P. that I would reply in writing this time. The next day, I gave her this statement:

“This statement is in reference to statements written by four students on May 4, 2006. The four students are: Donny Osmond, Joseph Mendel, Maynard Crock, Jerry Vardpit. The students made several complaints which I will address one by one:

1. Students allege that I insult them and their parents by calling them financially poor.

I told the students that studies have shown that the number of years of education a person has is a very good predictor of how much the person will earn during their lifetime. The more skills and knowledge they had, the more they could earn. In addition, good manners, or people skills was also extremely important when it came to making a living.

Many students protested that this wasn’t true because Mike Tyson and various Rap Artists had dropped out of school, but they were still rich.

I replied by using an analogy. You’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean and it starts to sink. Someone offers you a lifeboat full of food, water, blankets, a two-way radio and everything you’ll need to survive. But you’ve heard stories about people who have survived after falling off a cruise ship and being in shark infested waters for days without a life jacket. So you say, “No thank you, I don’t want the lifeboat, I’ll just jump into the ocean, because I know that some people have done it and survived.”

Education is the lifeboat. Every year you go to school you add something that you need for survival after you leave your parents’ home.

In case some students had low self esteem and did not think that it was possible for them to get a good education, I made it clear that everyone sitting in the classroom could go as far as they wanted with their education. They just needed to put in the effort. They couldn’t play around, waste time, not pay attention, and not do the assignments. High School would be difficult, but if they hung in there,and they thought of each class as one more piece of survival equipment that they were adding to the lifeboat, then they could go as far as they wanted to go.

I never referred to their parents except to say that all their parents wanted them to get a good education, because they knew just as well as I did how important it was for their future.

I often refer to behavior as Excellent, Good, or Poor. An example of behavior that these four boys engaged in that I labeled as “Poor” was when they made farting noises in class. However, I do not make the link between poor manners and financial poverty every time I admonish the students for misbehaving.

2. Students allege that I threw little black pellets on the floor and called them rat poison.

During the first marking period, Joseph Mendel had a book bag with little round pieces of black plastic that could be torn off. Joseph or other students tore off pieces of the black plastic and threw them on the floor and then made jokes about the black pellets being rat poison. I was never able to find out who was actually throwing the plastic on the floor, but all four boys who wrote the statements made jokes about rat poison. In other words the behavior that they attribute to me was actually their own behavior.

3. Students complain about being blamed for losing science equipment, and taking the phone off the hook.

I complained to Mr. Angulo about these incidents but did not blame any individual students because I did not find out who actually did it. However, I am fairly sure that the individuals were students in class 8Z.

4. Donny Osmond alleges that I cussed out his mother and called her a “wh--e”.

This never happened. In fact, Donny made the statement that his mother cussed me out and called me a “wh--e”.

On the last day of school, Principal P. had me go to her office to pick up my checks and leave my keys. That is when she gave me this letter:

June 28, 2006

Dear Ms. Untamed,

On June 16, 2006 I met with you and your union representative to review an allegation against you that was made by Joseph Mendel. Specifically, it was alleged that on May 4, 2006 you called everyone poor and told him, “I don’t want to talk to poor people” in violation of Chancellor’s Regulation A-421.

After reviewing the complaint against you, the complainant’s statement, the witness statements, and your explanation, I conclude that you did not call Joseph Mendel poor.

Although I do not find that the above act rises to the level of corporal punishment (???), I conclude that you exercised poor judgment when you decided to have a lesson about good manners, people skills and education as a predicator of learning. In the future, please follow the science curriculum and pacing calendar. This leaves less room for students to misinterpret what you say.


Principal P.

Now that I reread this letter, I guess Verbal Abuse falls under Corporal Punishment. So what are “Improper Remarks?????”

Worm Killer

The school year of 2005-2006 went fairly well for me because Principal P. was persecuting other teachers including my colleague, Adila.

However, in May of 2006 I was called into her office without warning. I found three administrators and the parents of Douglas Doolittle. This was a little surprise party in which I was going to be accused of verbally abusing poor Douglas by calling him a “Worm Killer”.


During the Parent-Teacher Conference in February of 2006 Mrs. Doolittle had come in and told me that Douglas would be missing two months of school because the family had to return to their native country. She wanted to know what he would be missing. I told her that we would be working on the 8th grade Science Project which had come to be known as the Exit Project. Without it a student couldn’t graduate.

This was a problem, because Douglas had a learning disability and needed extra help. We had just used a water testing kit to compare NYC tap water and bottled water for acidity, chlorine, nitrogen level, bacteria, and other factors. Somehow in our conversation it came out that the Doolittle’s hometown had famous mineral springs. I told the mother that Douglas could bring back water from his hometown and we would use the same kit to test the water. I would then help him compare the hometown water with NYC water.

Granted, the Exit Project is supposed to be the CHILD’s idea, but I didn’t have time to help Douglas discover which project he wanted to do.

About two months later, Douglas appeared in school, but he didn’t come to my class. I saw him in the hallway, and asked him if he had the water from his country. He didn’t answer. By then I had 150 kids with science projects in various stages of completion, As I usually did at this time of year, I was coming in an hour before school and staying an hour after school to help kids with their projects.

A few days later, I found a note in my box from one of the guidance counselors. Mrs. Doolittle had called and wanted to know what Douglas had to do to finish his science project. I found the counselor and asked her what was going on with Douglas. He was never in my class, even though he was back in school, and now his mother wanted me to call her. It’s no longer a matter of Mrs. Doolittle and me talking about it. DOUGLAS NEEDS TO COME TO CLASS. I asked her to call Mrs. Doolittle back for me because I was really busy with the other 150 kids who DO show up to class and come in before and after school to get help.

Finally, it was time for the students to give their oral presentations. On the second or third day of the presentations Douglas appeared proudly bearing a very nice-looking project. I doubted that he had decorated the science board all alone, but that wasn’t my emphasis. I was more interested in the experiment and what the student had learned from it. Douglas was one of the last presenters. It turned out that he had not used the idea about the mineral water—that’s OK, it was just a spur of the moment suggestion. Instead he had investigated the effects of acid rain on worms.

Douglass explained how he had put poured water and then vinegar on a worm. When he put vinegar on the worm it had started to writhe and then died. He seemed to enjoy telling everybody about the worm’s final moments. Some of the kids said to me, “You said no experimenting on animals. Why did he get to kill a worm? I asked Douglas if he thought the worm would survive being doused with vinegar or did he expect the worm to die. Douglas said he thought the worm would die. “So what did you hope to learn by killing the worm” , I asked. Douglas didn't know. I told Douglas that we had agreed not to experiment on animals. I couldn’t accept the project because he had killed the worm on purpose, and for no reason. Douglas got very upset and ran out of the room.


So the meeting was the result of Douglas’s science project fiasco. Now let’s look at the wealth of evidence Principal P. anticipated getting from this incident.

1. Pedagogical Incompetence—this would be a stretch since 99% of my students had finished the Exit Project. But if we disregard that little detail, we can focus on how Moriah refused to call the mother back. We can show that poor Douglas had no help with his project and had to struggle through it on his own. It was incompetent of her not to accept the project.
2. Mental Disability—there you go. Is this teacher CRAZY or not? Can’t experiment on animals? It’s a WORM for godsake. It’s CRAZY not to accept the project.
3. Lack of Certification-No Cigar.
4. Absence from Work—No Cigar
5. Insubordination—No Cigar
6. Improper Remarks—“I can’t accept the project because you killed a worm” turned into “WORM KILLER”.
7. Other type of Chargeable Misconduct. ??????? Let's get her in here and see if we can get something else on her.

The parents had come properly prepared to speak to the Incompetent, Crazy, Abusive teacher. “What is wrong with killing a worm? Scientists do it all the time. Are you some kind of animal rights activist?”

“It’s against Chancellor’s Regulations to experiment on animals,” I replied. It was hard to keep from smiling as the administrators looked at each other uneasily. “There’s no such regulation!” Principal P. stated emphatically.

Oh yes there was. I showed it to them.

“But a worm isn’t an animal”, the Father said. Wouldn’t you kill a roach in your house if you saw one? I admitted I would, but it wasn’t the same to kill a roach for health reasons as to plan an experiment and purposefully pour acid on a creature for no other purpose but to watch it writhe and die.

Then I asked the parents about the water from mineral springs. They hadn’t been able to bring it back.

Ok. Why hadn’t Douglas come to class? I would have been glad to help him with his project. I had been working before and after school with other students. He would have been welcome to come. Nobody answered me.

Principal P.later questioned the rest of the students in the class. Everybody heard me say, “You killed a worm” Nobody heard me call him “Worm Killer”.

In the end Douglas did another science project and passed on to high school

In closing, I just want to say that I am not a strict animal rights activist. I just think that Middle School is a time to teach kids to value life rather than to kill things for no reason but to show your power over them.


I am a tenured teacher. Many people think that means that I can’t be fired. It really means that I can’t be fired on a Principal’s whim. The principal has to have a good reason (just cause), and has to be able to prove it before a judge. I get my day in court and legal representation, which I have paid for with my union dues.

I am guaranteed this right under New York Education Law Section 3020a.

This law states in part that the Principal’s “good reason” must be one or more of the following:

1. Pedagogical Incompetence
2. Physical or Mental Disability
3. Lack of Certification
4. Absence from Work
5. Insubordination
6. Corporal Punishment and Use of Excessive Physical Force
7. Improper Remarks, Physical Contact and Relationships with Students
8. Endangerment of Student Safety
9. Other Types of Charegeable Misconduct

These all seem like good reasons for the Principal to want to fire a teacher, right?


Since Mayor Bloomberg took control of the New York City Department of Education and appointed Joel Klein to be Chancellor, there has been a concerted effort to get rid of tenure and of tenured teachers. They have bent rules, broken rules, and have encouraged administrators to constantly crisscross the line between supervision and persecution. Principals have taken these rules and tried to find ways of making them apply to teachers they don’t like—against teachers who disagree with them--who blow the whistle on them—who are high on the salary scale—who have more seniority than a teacher the Principal likes better—etc. None of these reasons are just cause for firing a tenured teacher, so that’s when the Principal becomes a Persecutor instead of a Supervisor.


1. A Supervisor collects both positive and negative evidence about a teacher. A Persecutor collects only negative evidence.

2. A Supervisor supports the teacher in helping children with problems. A Persecutor finds ways of using the childrens’ problems against the teacher.

3. A Supervisor maintains open lines of communication, and a healthy exchange of ideas with the teacher. A Persecutor twists a teacher’s words and actions in order to manufacture evidence.

4. A Supervisor maintains the difference in authority between children and adults in the school. A Persecutor gives the children power over targeted teachers.

5. A Supervisor models good moral and ethical behavior. A Persecutor lies, cheats, and steals; and encourages children and other adults to do the same with the purpose of bringing a teacher up on 3020a charges.

I have always referred to my Principal as Principal P. The P. just stood for principal. But now I think the P stands for Persecutor.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Self Assessment and Self Protection

In my search through old papers I also unearthed the memo I wrote in protest for the Principal P.'s prohibition on using dictaphones and cameras (See Workshop Model Rules). I am posting this Memo that I wrote back in 2005 because it is interesting to see how many details get lost over time. It is very important to write everything down as soon as it happens.

May 2, 2005


TO: Principal P.
FROM: Moriah Untamed

On Wednesday, April 6, 2005 you called me into your office and told me that several students had complained that I had been taking snapshots of them while they were in science class. You asked me why I was taking photos. I answered that I was taking photos to show evidence of good work that my students and I do in the science classroom. You said that I couldn't take photos without the permission of the students' parents. I said that I would send out permission slips and photograph only those students who brought back signed parental consent slips. You refused to give me permission to photograph students even under those circumstances. I asked for permission to take photographs of the equipment setups that I was using in the classroom after the students had gone home. You refused to give me permission to take photographs in the school, even without students present. In fact you prohibited me from bringing a camera onto school premises.

I think your policy toward my use of snapshots is unreasonable because many photos have been taken by other members of the staff during the past several months without the parents' permission. For example, right outside my classroom there was (and still is) a bulletin board showcasing the mentor program in which many photos of students are displayed. This bulletin board shows the pride that the mentors and mentees have in their program. I am also proud of my students' work and its positive reflection on my teaching practice. I like to have snapshots of my students performing hands-on inquiry lessons for future reference.

I also think that this policy is unfair to me personally because you do not apply it to other staff members--especially the prohibition of all camera equipment on school premises. I would like to know why I am being treated differently than other staff members.

On April 8, 2005 you again called me into your office and told me that a few of my students were complaining that I was audiotaping them in the classrooom. I told you that I was using a dictaphone that had a very short range and could only record my voice. You asked me why I wanted to record my voice. I said that I wanted to listen to parts of my minilessons, and certain questions I asked and answers that I gave to my students. You asked me why I would want to record these things, and I told you that I could listen to the tapes after class and refine my explanations and questions. You said that the only way I could refine my teaching practice was for you, the principal, or an assistant principal or another teacher to tell me how to make it better. It was inconceivable to you that a teacher could improve herself through self assessment. You also stated that I did not know how to teach science through inquiry and that I always used textbooks and chalk and talk. I told you that on the contrary I teach science almost exclusively using inquiry methods and that I was alarmed that you should have such a false impression of my teaching techniques and abilities. Under the circumstances it seemed more necessary than ever that I accumulate evidence of my teaching ability that is not dependent on the opinion of one person or a small group of people. You said that you were the only person that could decide whether or not I was teaching science the right way. I disagreed and said that I would accumulate independent evidence of my teaching ability. You reiterated that I was prohibited from using a camera or a dictaphone. I said "fine" but that I would continue to accumulate evidence of my teaching practice. As I left the room I pulled the door shut behind me as you requested. I am used to shutting my classroom door, which has much more resistance than your door and I pulled too hard, which caused the door to slam. I did not slam the door intentionally.

I am aware that using a camera or dictaphone in the school would be insubordination on my part. However, it is possible to accumulate evidence of a teacher's professional practice without the use of a camera or a dictaphone and that is what I intend to do, and have been doing since our meeting.

I think that your prohibition of my use of a dictaphone is unreasonable. However, what is even more unreasonable is your opinion that a teacher cannot provide independent evidence of her teaching ability. Teaching is a multifaceted endeavor which can always be improved. There is no such thing as a perfect teacher. However, there is such a thing as a reflective teacher who is constantly refining her practice through self assessment as well as interaction with other educators.

Memory vs Anecdotal Records

I've been searching around in old papers and found my anecdotal record for the bird incidents. I don't want to run this into the ground, but I put it here because it shows the difference between a detailed anecdotal record kept at the time of the incident and a story written from memory after four and a half years (See Jan 3,2009 Chickens and Pajaros). I have to type this into the computer all over again because the file somehow got deleted. This is why it is good to keep hard copies.


WEEK 2 OF SCHOOL YEAR (9-20-04 through 09-24-04)

Tuesday, 9/21 Period 2 Class 8K Room 600

Fire drill: Students made bird calls as they went down the staircase, out the door, and up the street. They continued making bird calls when we returned. I had the class repeat the drill because they had behaved so badly. Principal P came out of the office and reprimanded them. I called the parents of several students. I called the parents of several students.

Wednesday, 9/22

I sent home notices to the parents of 8-K that their children could have detention the following week because of misbehavior during a fire drill.

Friday, 9/24 Period 4 Class 8L Room 601

Coverage for Mrs. Garry. When I walked into the room, I was welcomed with hooting and trilling sounds. Several students started talking about birds by making statements such as "Are you going to teach us about BIRDS? Do you like BIRDS? Do you like to each CHICKEN? What's your favorite BIRD? Every time they said the word "bird" or the name of a bird they put extra emphasis on it and then started giggling hilariously. It became obvious to me that this was some kind of code and that the meaning of the word "bird" was not the same for me as it was for them. Every time I tried to start the lesson, they responded with bird calls. Mr. Z. came into the room, and I informed him that the students were making bird calls and I asked him if he knew what that meant. He replied that he did not, and left. Most of the students stopped at that point, but some continued referencing birds such as SPARROWS, PIGEONS, DUCKS, ETC. At the end of the period I took one of the students aside and asked him about the significance of the bird references. He said that it was a nickname for someone, and that it didn't mean anything.

When I walked out of the room (They had a double period in the same room) several students made bird calls and references to birds.

WEEK 3 OF SCHOOL YEAR (9-27-04 through 10-01-04)


I began mentioning my experiences of the second week to other teachers and asking them if they knew if bird was a code--perhaps for something gang related. Everyone I talked to said that they didn't know anything that could help me. I made several phone calls to parents of students advising them that their children were misbehaving in class, making rude noises, and not doing their work.

9/28 Between Periods 6 and 7 Class 8L room 613 (in front of Assistant Principal Z's office)

I was waiting just outside the door for the period to change. When the bell rang,
I walked into the classroom as the students got up to leave. Several students made bird calls and called out the word "bird". The teacher of 8L heard the calls and admonished them.

9/29 Periods 1 and 2 Class 8J Room 627

Bird calls. I called the parents of several students and noted their behavior on the section sheet.

During week of 9/27 to 10/1 I asked teachers, counselors, deans, and assistant pricipals if the word "bird" had a second meaning. I shared my concern that the bird calls might be gang related.

WEEK 4 OF SCHOOL YEAR (10-04-04 through 10-08-04)

10/08/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 613 (In front of office of Assistant Principal Z.)

The class that occupied 613 during period 7 was 8-L. Several students yelled out "bird" and made trilling noises while looking at me and pointing at me and laughing. I mentioned briefly to their teacher that they had done the same thing to me last Friday, and I was trying to find out if it was some kind of code. The teacher said she didn't know what the bird references could mean.

During this week I met with the parent of one of the students who was making the bird calls. I told her about her son's behavior. I asked her if she had any idea about why her son was making bird calls. I told her that I was worried that it might be gang related. She told me that she would talk to him and that it wouldn't happen again.

WEEK 5 (10-11-04 through 10-15-04)

During week 5 I continued to call parents of student sin my classes if they misbehaved or did not do their work.

10/12/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 613 (In front of Assistant Principal's office)

As I walked into the classroom several students made bird calls. Their teacher witnessed the behavior.

WEEK 6 OF THE SCHOOL YEAR (10-18-22 through 10-22-04)

During week 6 most of the bird references disappeared in students that I teach, but it continued in students I do not teach--especially those in class 8L.

10/19/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 413

As I walked into the classroom several students made bird calls and called out he word "bird". Their teacher witnessed the behavior and admonished the children.

WEEK 7 OF THE SCHOOL YEAR (10-25-04 through 10-29-04)

10/26/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 413

As I walked into the classroom several students made bird calls. Their teacher admonished them.

10/28/04 3:00 PM Room 627

I met with the mother and grandmother of a student named Margaret Thatcher who was failing my class. During the meeting, the girl asked me in engish, in a taunting tone of voice if I had ever found out what "bird" meant. I speak sapnish, so I turned to the mother and grandmother and explained the trouble I had been having with many studens in 8J, 8K, and 8L. I said that they had been calling me "pajaro" (bird) and making "ruidos de pajaro" (bird calls). I asked the motehr if she had any idea what that might mean. Margaret's mother told me that the word "pajaro" means "gay" in Spanish. I asked Margaret if all the students who had been making those noises were doing so because they thought I was gay. Margaret shrugged her shoulders and said nothing. The mother and grandmother apologized and left.


I wrote a Dean's Referral for two boys in 8-12 who had persistently made bird calls every time they saw me for the past 7 weeks. I charged them with sexual harassment based on the new information that I had received from the parent the day before. Ms. Molly Ringwald, the dean asked me to write a statement to accompany each referral. When I left the school on Friday afternoon I found a not in my box from Ms. Ringwald stating that she had set up a meeting with the parents of the two boys for Monday and asked me to attend.

10/30/04 and 10/31

Over the weekend I took the opportunity to speak t several Spanish-speaking people in the neighborhood around the school (I live only a few blocks away from the schoo). They confirmed that "pajaro" means gay. However, they added that it was particularly insulting term, having reference to the fact of fellatio. One woman told me that her nephew, who was in high school, had gotten into a fight with some older boys who had called him "pajaro". Everyone I spoke to knew exactly what the alternative meaning was.

WEEK 8 (11-1-04 through 11-05-04)

Monday 11/01 Period 2 Molly Ringwald's office

I met with the parents of the two boys. One boy took out a statement, which he said he had written in Mr. Angulo's office. In the statement he accused me of calling him "birdman". I told him to put away his false st statement. I explained his behavior to his father in Spanish and conveyed the fact that he had been calling me pajaro over and over and over for weeks. All I had to do was say the word "pajaro" and there was no need for the boy to read his statement. The same was true for the second boy's parents. The parents scolded the boys, made them apologize to me, and we shook hands.

Monday 11/01 Period 7 Hansel Angulo's office

I asked Assistant Principal Angulo why he had allowed one of the boys to bring a statement to the meeting which basically accused me of doing to him what he had done to me over and over for seven weeks. Mr. Angulo tried to tell me that I was wrong about the interpretation of bird and that the boys had not been insulting me. Mr. Angulo stated that he was of Puerto Rican heritage and had never heard the term "pajaro" used in that way.

Monday 11/01 Period 8 Class 8-10 Room 627

Almost all the boys in the class began to make bird calls and shout out the word "bird" as soon as they came in. I had planned a test during that period, so things quieted down almost immediately, but the bird behavior began again as soon as I stopped the test. I kept most of the boys after dismissal and let the girls go. I lectured the boys, told them that I had found out what the word "pajaro" meant, I was disgusted by their behavior, and that I was pretty sure that their parents would feel the same way after I told them.

As I was talking to the boys, Mr. Angulo came in and reminded me that there was a professional development session taking place in my room after school, and that I should dismiss the students. I informed him about why I had kept them, and roughly two minutes later, I dismissed them As they left the room, they started making bird calls and shouting "She's a piece of shit." Several teachers were in the hallway and heard them. NOTE: At this point I did not mention in the Anecdotal Record that one of those "educators" was Mr. Angulo, and that as the students passed him he and another teacher started to laugh--but I have never forgotten that image, and I included it when I wrote the story from memory.

I started erasing the board. Teachers started coming into the room. I told each of them that my students had been calling out "bird" for the past two months, and I had just discovered that it meant homosexual. Mr. Angulo came in. I pointed out to him that neither he nor anyone in the building had helped me with this problem, and that I had had to find out for myself, by myself what all the bird calls were about. I repeated that he had helped a student prepare a false statement. The whole time I was talking to him I was washing the board. I began to cry and left the room.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Workshop Model Rules

During Principal S.T.’s first year (2004-2005), we were exposed to the joys of teaching according to the WORKSHOP MODEL.


1. All desks must be arranged in groups of four. Students must do all their work in these small groups.

2. Teachers must avoid writing on the board at the front of the classroom.

3. A detailed Learning Objective which begins, “Students Will Be Able To” must be displayed at the front of the classroom at all times during the class.

4. Class time must be divided into three parts: Minilesson, Group Work, and Share.

5. An AGENDA must be displayed on chart paper at the front of the classroom detailing the Learning Objective, Minilesson, Group Work, and Share

6. MINILESSON: The teacher must limit direct instruction to the first 7 to 10 minutes of class. No more than 10 minutes of direct instrution can take place in any class period.

7. GROUP WORK: For the next 20 minutes, students must work in pairs or groups of four to try out the concept or skill that the teacher modeled in the “mini-lesson.”
The teacher must circulate from group to group helping as needed, or conduct five-minute “conferences” to assess students individually.

8. SHARE:For the final 10 minutes of class, the group must share the results of their group work. The teacher must ask “higher order thinking questions” and allow sufficient wait time before going on to the next question.

9. By the end of the period, the teacher must be able to provide evidence that most students have fulfilled the learning objective.

Principal P. went around with a timer, making sure that teachers taught for no more than ten minutes. However, she was concentrating on Math and English Language Arts teachers during her first year, so she pretty much left the science department alone. Still, I received feedback from my Assistant Principal that I had been observed to be talking past my ten minute limit and to make sure that I didn’t do that during my formal observation.

To prepare for my observation, I started bringing in a dictaphone to record my minilessons. Perhaps if I listened to myself I could find ways of explaining things in less time. I also brought in a camera to take pictures of students performing some of the hands-on activities we did in class. We were being asked to cover every square inch of wall space with student work and I thought it would be nice to accompany the lab reports with pictures of students actually doing the labs.

On April 8, 2005 Principal S.T. called me into her office and told me that students had come to her and complained that I was tape recording them and taking pictures of them without their permission. I made them “uncomfortable”. She didn’t tell me which students from which class, but I knew exactly who they were. They were from the same class that had been making bird noises back in September and October of 2004. A few days ago one them had noticed the dictaphone and asked what it was. I explained that I was taping my voice to see what I sounded like while I was teaching. During that lesson, one of the boys had made a bird call. The girl got up and said she was going to talk to Principal S.T. and stomped out of the room without a pass.

I told Principal S.T. that I was just trying to record my minilessons so that I could perfect my presentation, and that the students’ voices were barely audible (unlike the bird calls which could clearly be heard, but I didn’t mention them). However, she was adamant—no tape recordings were to be made in class.

As for the photographs, I told her that I wasn’t taking pictures of anyone without their permission. I offered to give out parent permission slips and then photograph only those students who brought them back. I also offered to take anonymous pictures that didn’t show any faces. She again “directed me” to stop taking photographs.

I asked why other teachers were allowed to take photographs of students and put them on the bulletin boards in the halls. She didn’t answer my question, but just repeated that she was directing me to “cease and desist” from photographing students.

I asked if I could take pictures of the science equipment after school when there were no students present. She told me that I would be guilty of insubordination if I took any pictures at all or even brought a camera into the building.

I filed a Step I grievance, which was of course denied (The Principal decides the outcome). I took it to a Step II, where I lost again. During all that time other teachers took pictures of their students and displayed them. I continued to see pictures of students all over the school in the years that followed.

So I would have to add one new rule to the WORKSHOP MODEL RULES.

10. Teachers must never use cameras or tape recorders in the classroom that could serve as unbiased, impartial evidence of the teacher's competence--or of an administator's incompetence.

Moriah Untamed

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Midwinter Break

It's 7:30 AM on Saturday and I am wide awake. My body is still on school time, so it is hard to sleep more than an hour past my normal 6:00 AM wakeup call.

As I left the school building yesterday I heard people excitedly talking about their vacation plans--Bahamas, California, Florida, etc.

My plans are different. I will be writing about how Principal P. destroyed my career as a teacher and jump started my career as a writer. I will try to do other things, like taking walks and spending quality time with friends and family, but I will spend the early morning hours of every day writing.

So begins my dress rehearsal for retirement--and the dress code is...pajamas.