By the end of the ISO hearing, HAYDEN SANDS had repeated so many times that I had said that SILAS PAJECO had sexually harassed MADELENE, that he almost had me convinced that I had actually said it.
As soon as I got home, I went through my collection of audio recordings. After I had been accused of making fun of a student’s “Bladder Problems” on September 11, I had taped every meeting and telephone conversation. It’s legal in New York to audio record a conversation in which you are taking part. You don’t have to let the other party know.
I wouldn’t have resorted to this last ditch effort to save my personal and professional if I hadn’t been pushed into a corner, and could see no other way out. I don’t like the idea of secretly tape recording conversations.
But thank God I did.
I found the recorded conversations with MADELENE’S mother. There was a total of about forty-five minutes of conversation on different dates. During one of the conversations I told the mom I had heard a group of boys call MADELENE a cow. MADELENE had come up to me after class and complained that they had also made comments about “body parts”. I had met with the boys about this and other problems they had in my class. They had told me that MADELENE had called them gay. I told the mother that she should talk to MADELENE, because only she could confirm if the boys had made fun of her body and which parts were mentioned. She should just be aware that the boys were saying that MADELENE had also insulted them. If, after talking with her daughter, she decided there was cause for concern, she should come to school and ask to speak with a guidance counselor.
Obviously, that didn’t take 45 minutes to say. The rest of the conversations had to do with how MADELENE could get a better grade.
After listening to the tapes, I felt incredibly betrayed by this mother and daughter.
I doubt if I will be able to present these recordings as evidence. There are so many ways to fake audio recordings these days. But they have already given me what I need most—total and absolute belief in myself. They will also help me convince an attorney that I am credible. And last of all, they will help build a list of questions that will destroy the testimony of this mother-daughter duo from hell at a 3020a hearing.
I still say you can't make this up. You are not going to be accused of sexual harrassment and instead acccused of telling a mother that her daughter is being verbally harrassed by being called a cow? And they'll try to say you told the mother it was sexual rather than verbal harrassment? Of course they'll add other equally silly charges. This is precisely the sort of case that, even nowadays, falls apart in front of an arbitrator.
Rich Krinsky used to be an arbitrator and is now a lawyer representing teachers like you. He is good friends with Ed Wolf and might be just he lawyer you need. firstname.lastname@example.org is the only way I have of contacting him. He knows me. Tell him, I told you to contact him. If you want to know more, contact me by e-mail.
Best of luck with everything. As an education major hoping to teach in a nyc public high school, this blog is an eye opener.
LI, Hopefully, the arbitrator will be less biased than the hearing officer. However, It's incredible that we have to pin all our hopes on one person. The system should have many checks and balances along the way, but they aren't there anymore.
P.O.'d Thanks for the tip. I'll check him out.
Education Major, If I were sure that conditions were going to stay the same, I would encourage you to choose another major. However, no one knows what the future may bring. Hopefully you'll find a school where you don't have to worry about administrators behaving badly.
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