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.
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
Moriah, I think you're being scammed. You were issued a "Mad Libs"-type ("fill in the blanks") letter contained within a DOE stylebook!
Compare the contents of the letter that you received with the contents of the letter contained on Adobe viewer page 58 (physical page number 50) at the following URL:
Also, the tactics that your principal seems to be using, relating to students, were previously brought to the attention of PERB when the UFT filed an improper practice charge against Robert Leder, who was, at the time, principal of Lehman HS in the Bronx.
Go to a law library or court library and have the librarian help you find 22 PERB 4537, which is the decision titled, IN THE MATTER OF JOHN MULVEY AND THE UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS,
CHARGING PARTIES, AND BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENT.
Case Nos. U-9204, U-9336
April 12, 1989
The PERB decision will open your eyes as to supervisory practices that have been going on for at least twenty years!
You forgot to mention the stigmatizing effects of your abrupt removal from the classroom.
You might consider visiting an MD for some stress-relieving medication (and documentation).
I followed Anonymous' link. Well done. Now if only the UFT published a booklet of their own with 'suggested responses' to each letter.
This is really the scattergun approach to "harassment via false disciplinary pretext". What's next... you're a pyromaniac or something?
The principal of my building employed exactly same approach on me. She manipulated and fabricated the statements from students to get me into reassignment center. Currently I am waiting for a hearing on these bogus charges.
Thanks for the link. I already downloaded this link from parentadvocates.org during the Midwinter Break. I had already noticed the pattern in their letters and suspected a template. This download confirmed my suspicions. I also ordered the book “Disciplining Tenured Teachers in New York State: A handbook for School board members, Administrators and Attorneys” published by New York State School Boards Association, copyrighted 1990.
I wish I had had both of these resources four years ago.
I will try to get to a law library to check out your other reference.
You are right. Removing me from the classroom TWICE--once in November for a week, and now again in February has completely stigmatized me. However, the process of stigmatization begins when the children start writing those letters. My relationship with them never fully recovered.
I visited an MD and had a stress test for my heart. It seemed to be working normally, so the next possible diagnosis would be Panic Attacks. Unfortunately, this would only bolster their case against me. They could call me mentally incompetent.
What next? This happened back in October. Wait till I get to November.
You are right about the UFT publishing a similar booklet for teachers. But UFT has become extremely top-down. They are not empowering teachers to fight back at the school and district level.
HOWEVER, I think you have a GREAT idea. Part of that booklet is being written here. Other parts are being written on other blogs. One day, perhaps we’ll put all the parts together.
This is a very painful experience. It is made more painful because the DOE and the UFT isolate us from each other. No support groups allowed. Take care of yourself, and stay well.
I see your point about mental incompetence. As I noted earlier, they could try that line of attack as a way of summarizing all of their pretend issues. They would begin by referring you to a MD. This would be prior to a 3020a.
Pedagogical judgment is a much slower line of attack for the system.
Of course, if the principal wants you out of the building either will suffice.
As far as a future 3020a is concerned, the virtual variety of the barrage of potential charges will betray bad faith to an arbitrator. It's called 'building a file'. Your steady written responses will confirm your competence.
I'll continue reading your blog. When it comes time for a NYSUT lawyer to get involved I'll figure out a way to let you know mine. She is superb.
Moriah, have you ever gotten in touch with David Pakter? He will be able to give you excellent advice.
It seems that your principal has been playing almost exactly same tricks as mine had done to me. Your eventual reassignment has to be what on your principal's mind for him or her to go through these troubles in building your case. However, you will survive this first round trip to TRC as most teachers here did. It is what it is, but not the end of the world.
Goodness, I am just student teaching this semester and they've certainly been putting the fear in me about these types of incidents. I'm so sorry you are going through this and I hope you get out with your hair still stuck to your scalp. Good luck and I am rooting for you!
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