Sunday, November 17, 2013

Indemnification of School Personnel Leads To Senseless 3020-a Charges

What Does "Indemnification" of School Administrators Mean?

Re-posted from NYC Rubber Room Reporter




Below is an explanation given by SAANYS (there seem to be no contacts for Region 3, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Kings, Bronx, Richmond, Staten Island). In my opinion, the immunity clause for educators and education administrators throughout NYC and NY State is still random and arbitrary, as NY Law Department Attorney Martin Bowe told me several years ago - after Stuyvesant High School AP Jay Biegelson, AP Eleanor Archie, and Principal Stanley Teitel ripped up my daughter's IEP, changed it, and took away her services without informing me, and then Bowe defended them in Federal Court - that he indemnified anyone he "wanted to [indemnify]", and the public pays. See Public Officer's Law Section 18.


Hold Harmless Clause (provision):

Definition of 'Hold Harmless Clause'

"A statement in a legal contract stating that an individual or organization is not liable for any injuries or damages caused to the individual signing the contract. An individual may be asked to sign a hold harmless agreement when undertaking an activity that involves risk for which the enabling entity does not want to be legally or financially responsible."


This clause/provision is similar to the Absolute Immunity any judge has to make any decision he or she wants, and never be held accountable for this decision no matter how random, arbitrary or capricious it is.


America, shouldn't this legal protection of people, including judges, be denied as against our public rights to due process and justice?


Betsy Combier

From SAANYS:


As a first order of business we must define the terms defense and indemnification. Defense and indemnification really mean, “who pays?” That is to say, who pays when you, as an employee in a school district, are named in a lawsuit. Defense means something different than indemnification. Broadly defined, defense means paying legal fees and other costs associated with the defense of the employee. Indemnification broadly defined means the employer must pay damages and costs that are adjudged against the employee.

However, there are significant limitations and other nuances of the requirement of ‘who pays.’ These will be discussed in this article, along with important time frames within which you must act if you get sued.





As some of you may unfortunately know, when you are sued as a private citizen, you must pay for your attorney and all the other costs in defending yourself. And if the court finds against you, you must pay a judgment. The concept behind the defense and indemnification statutes in the Education Law stems from the fact that you are a government employee. As such, the legislature, as representative of the people, has determined that education is serving a ‘public’ purpose. Therefore, those employees serving in an industry that serves the public must have some type of extended protection from lawsuits – the rationale being that the public is best served by the uninterrupted operations of that industry and that those employees subsequently must be free to perform the work of the public without being subject to financial ruin as a result of lawsuits. The key of course is that the person must be performing the work of the public. That is, his or her actions were within the ‘scope of his employment.’

There are several statutes related to defense and indemnification in the Education Law. These statutes form a patchwork of protections. They range from a broad protection against any civil suit to more limited narrow protections against certain criminal charges.





Education Law 3811

The broadest provision is Education Law 3811. Quite succinctly, under 3811 the district must provide and pay for an employee’s defense and damages judged against him or her in any civil (not criminal) proceeding. But the employee must first meet two critical requirements: 1) the employee must have notified the board of education in writing within five days of being served; and 2) the court or the commissioner of education must certify that the employee’s actions were within the scope of his employment.
First, the employee should call his attorney and take his or her advice accordingly. Immediately when served papers, an employee would write a simple letter notifying the board of the lawsuit and make a request for defense and indemnification. That person should also make a copy of the papers served and include that with the letter. So to recap: When an employee gets served with legal papers in any civil suit, they must, within five days, send a letter to the board informing it of the suit and should include a copy of those papers.





You will know you are named when you are served with legal papers by a process server. That is someone who is not a party to the proceeding. These papers invariably come with a first page with the word “NOTICE” conspicuously written on it. For example that page may be a “Summons” or a “Notice of Petition.” This is a legal requirement designed to clearly inform you that you have be named in a legal action so that you can take action to defend yourself.

Education Law 3023

Under Education Law 3023, an employee is protected from financial loss resulting from a lawsuit where his or her accidental or negligent actions resulted in a person’s injury or damage to school property. This applies on or off school property as long as that employee’s actions were within the scope of his employment or volunteer duties under the direction of the board. Again, the critical aspects are that the employee is acting within the scope of his employment. And again, HURRY. This time, the employee must supply a copy of the original papers to the board within 10 days. There is no requirement that a written request for defense and indemnification be made. However, the employee can never go wrong by including such a letter and a copy of the papers. Play it safe and do it in five days.





Education Law Provision is 3028

Education Law 3028 includes a series of defense, indemnification, and immunity provisions addressing the ever-changing reality of student discipline issues in New York’s public schools. Now you may note that I stated that ‘certain’ criminal allegations were addressed in the Education Law. Here, 3028 states that the board must pay the attorney’s fees and expenses for any employee charged in a civil suit or criminal action as a result of disciplinary action the employee took towards a student within the scope of the employee’s duties or authorized volunteer activities. Again, 10 days to provide a copy or original of the papers served with no letter requirement. But again, play it safe, write a letter and attach a copy of the papers within five days.





Now you may have noticed that 3023 and 3028 do not specify both defense and indemnification. 3023 says ‘protect from financial losses’ and 3028 specifies only ‘attorney’s fees and expenses.’ This is a critical distinction because the courts have determined that the board’s duty to defend an employee, i.e. pay the attorney, is broader than the board’s duty to indemnify, i.e. pay a judgment against the employee. Although a discussion of this distinction is outside the scope of this article, suffice it to say that having your attorney paid for does not mean that you are off the hook for the judgment or a portion of it against you. It is possible that an employee can have his or her defense paid for and still be found to have acted outside the scope of his or her employment for a portion of the acts alleged and therefore, be held liable for some of the judgment.

Also, the requirement that a court or the commissioner of education ‘certify’ that the employee’s actions were within the scope of his or her employment may require that some adjudication of the facts be made before it is finally
determined whether or not the employee’s actions were within the scope of his or her employment. This, of course, takes time and presumably the employee may have to front the attorney’s fees and expenses and seek reimbursement later.


Defense and Indemnification Provision


Public Officers Law 18 was designed to cover all government employees. It resembles a lengthy iteration of Education Law 3811. Public Officers Law 18 can only apply to education employees if the governing municipality has formally adopted it. For example, if the City of Poughkeepsie adopted Public Officers Law 18, then the City School District of Poughkeepsie and its employees could be subject to its provisions.


Immunity


Immunity means an employee is exempt from prosecution. Again, this applies only where the employee’s actions were within the scope of his or her employment and so may require some adjudication of the facts. Section 3028 has separately several immunity provisions related to six different topics. They are: 1) student drug abuse, 2) student alcohol abuse, 3) student weapons possession, 4) student acts of violence, as well as 5) evidence of child abuse and 6) financial mismanagement of district funds. All these provisions require that the employee act “reasonably” and in “good faith” when they report such activity. The provisions on financial mismanagement, weapons, and acts of violence have specific retaliation protections built in. And the district is required to provide a written explanation of the drug and child abuse reporting requirements to employees annually. So, there is some immunity from prosecution if you act reasonably and in good faith when reporting on the six topics named above.

Let’s Review


There are several simple rules to remember. When served with papers, the employee must FIRST notify the district (Play it safe and do it in five days every time, and include a copy of the papers served on you.). AND, remember that an employee must always be acting within the scope of his or her employment to receive the protections of the defense and indemnification statutes. The protections apply only to civil claims except for criminal allegations resulting from acts related to student discipline. An example might be using physical force as reasonable restraint of a child during a student fight.

Remember, play it safe. Call SAANYS and speak directly with one of your attorneys to discuss a particular situation.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NYC Teacher Francesco Portelos Challenges The Department of Education on The Issues of Retaliation and Secrecy by Betsy Combier

Re-posted from Parentadvocates.org and NYC Rubber Room Reporter

Francesco started his blog after he found his school's Principal, Linda Hill, was hiding improper documentation of school funds, would not answer his questions, and attacked him for two months. Francesco was removed the next month and put into a rubber room. In Francesco's Federal case the City Law Department, representing the Department of Education and Principal Hill, submitted a gag order to the Judge to shut him up. He is not complying. Why should he?

NYC DOE corruption cannot survive in the open, so they are retaliating against Francesco for his courage to expose their corruption and fraud. I am a big fan of Francesco and his blog.
          
   Francesco Portelos   
     Francesco Portelos is a very intelligent man, a charismatic and excellent teacher, father, and blogger. It's the last category which may have been the "straw that broke the camel's back" and landed him in the rubber room - that 'no longer exists' (according to the UFT's April 15, 2010 agreement which neither the UFT nor the NYC DOE give a hoot about).  Francesco didn't plan to become the whistleblower hero of teachers that he is now. He was doing his job, teaching and being a chapter leader, when he believed that something was wrong with the data that his principal wrote into the school CEP. He wanted to know why the numbers didn't add up, and he wanted to make sure that the students came first, not a coverup of fraud.

Many people now know, after reading the blogs and websites on the global internet, that government personnel lie....so do union Presidents and staff. The media doesn't get the story straight, either.  (The Staten Island reporter did a better job) As you will see below, Francesco's story is generic, a mixture of DOE retaliation, dislike, exposure of secrets, and ludicrous errors. For his efforts Francesco won an "A For Accountability" Award from my Foundation.

Soon after he was removed from his classroom, I filed a Freedom of Information request for Principal Linda Hill's personnel file. Here are the results of my FOIL request:

Hill-files
school-files

I did not start my blog, NYC Rubber Room Reporter, until 2007. but since I studied the Soviet and American Military Industrial Complex at Columbia University and at Johns Hopkins' School For Advanced International Studies, and my dad was Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York under Louis Lefkowitz, I knew that governments exist because they can keep their operations secret. Secrecy is a major issue in politics, and whenever a whistleblower comes along, this person becomes the magnet for investigations, and harm. Really, what do cockroaches do when the light turns on? They scamper into the nearest dark crack or hole. NYC DOE personnel despise anyone who challenges them on their "right" to harm people by subterfuge and threats of harm. They want the victim to be so scared of future retaliation that they run away, never to be heard from again.

Francesco did not fit this approved status. He asked the question, "where's the money?" and, when Principal Linda Hill retaliated against him for asking questions she did not want to answer, he started his blog, Protectportelos, to tell the public everything that was said and done at the school.
Linda Hill at IS 49






From Francesco's blog:

Allegations Against Mr. Portelos
LINK
On April 26, 2012 I was removed from my position as an educator. This was after I tried resisting four months of attacks that began when I raised issues at NYC Public School Berta A. Dreyfus I.S. 49. I have not been permitted back to educate the inner city youth there ever since. Why? I was informed that I was under investigation. NYC DOE Executive Director of Human Resources,
Andrew Gordon, (pictured at right) stated he and then
Chief Deputy Counsel Courtenaye-Jackson Chase (pictured above) were the ones who decided to remove me based on some “very serious allegations“. I thought to myself ”I know I didn’t do anything wrong, so there must be some seriously false allegations made“. I was sent to a basement 20 miles away to do nothing for months and was told nothing. The taxpayer continued to pay my salary and that of the substitute. Good thing there is a big surplus in funds for education.


Queens rubber room
I was not going to sit and rot at a desk (rubber Room) when I should be teaching.


Francesco Portelos in front of Tweed, NYC DOE Headquarters
 I told my union provided attorney that I want to speak to investigators about whatever they have. He was reluctant and advised me against it. “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” he warned. “I don’t care. I want everything on the table. No guessing games.” He was able to set up a meeting with investigators from the Special Commissioner of Investigation’s office. Two professional gentleman met with me on June 14, 2012. We sat for over 2 hours at my attorneys office as they read out to me the long list of allegations. They read the first 3 that included some bogus real estate claims and a fake a text program I never heard of. I thought “No problem. That’s it?” Then they proceeded to state there is an additional 15 or so more allegations. I then thought to myself “Oh boy. I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but can I dodge all these bullets?”

Betsy Combier and NYSUT Attorney Chris Callagy

It turns out I can. As they read through the dates and names of those making the allegations, my nervousness went away. By the time they finished, I thought “That’s it? These are the serious allegations? This is why the students were educationally neglected?

Since that June 14, 2012 day, the allegations continued to mound and mound. It got to the point that investigators would visit me in exile and joke about it. “Surprise!…You’re the subject of a new investigation.” one stated and threw his hands up. “Well Mr. Portelos, this should be of no surprise, but you are the subject of another investigation.” another from OSI would say. It got to the point that I started wearing these frivolous allegations like a badge of honor. How scared were they of what I was uncovering that they were throwing anything and everything?
Here are all the allegations against me that started with SCI Case 12-537. Keep in mind that these all started AFTER I had case 12-533 opened (notice the numbers). Case 12-533 was reported January 26, 2012 and is still open (over 600 days). It alleged that Principal Hill was sitting and getting paid at the School Leadership Team, while also getting paid for OSYD’s Achieve Now Academy at the same time…double dipping?

See this file that shows alleged financial misconduct
Allegations 1, 2 and 3 were all submitted on January 30, 2012 – Just 3 business days after my first allegations of Principal Hill’s financial misconduct were reported (Jan 26) and UFT Chapter Leader, Richard Candia, walked out of a UFT meeting as I spoke and demanded I resign as UFT Delegate (Jan 27).
1. January 30, 2012- Principal Hill called and stated that Mr. Portelos hacked www.dreyfus49.com, and took her administrative privileges away.
2. January 30, 2012- Principal Hill received an anonymous call that Mr. Portelos used an iTunes program called Fake a Message to email a student and make it appear that it was sent by the Principal.
3. January 30, 2012 Rich Candia (UFT Chapter Leader) claims that Mr Portelos conducts real estate business during class time. Also, an “anonymous caller” left a message at SCI on Sunday January 29, 2012 and stated the same as above.
4. February 22, 2012- Principal Hill alleges that Mr. Portelos requested that a paraprofessional work with him and other teachers on a Learning Technology Grant (LTG) after school to help his students. Principal Hill declined and Mr. Portelos apparently had him work anyway and submit time sheets.
5. March 2012 -Assistant Principal Joanne Aguirre discovered a website called protectportelos.org and it had student names mentioned. Parents did not complain.
6. March 2012- Principal Hill alleged that the website, protectportelos.org, had pictures of students. Parents did not complain.
7. March 2012- Principal Hill and Richard Candia made allegations that Mr. Portelos sent emails to the staff about his investigation.
8. March 2012- Principal Hill made allegation that there was an agreement to shut down Protectportelos.org and he did not.
9. March 28, 2012 -Rich Candia claimed that Mr. Portelos hacked into the website www.dreyfus49.com and copied personal email between him and Principal Hill and distributed it to the staff.
10. March 28, 2012 -Rich Candia alleges that Mr. Portelos walks back and forth in front of his classroom everyday and intimidates him. He was going to file a police report.
11. March 29, 2012 -Principal Hill alleges that she directed Mr. Portelos to shut down the website he owns and he did not. He also read, printed and distributed private emails from Rich Candia.
12. April 5, 2012 -Assistant Principal Joanne Aguirre alleged that Mr. Portelos asked the Parent Coordinator for pictures of a social gathering to possibly use to Photoshop Aguirre.
13. April 5,2012 – Assistant Principal Joanne Aguirre alleged that three emergency buttons in rooms around the school were blinking and that Mr. Portelos must be responsible.
14. April 2012 -Rich Candia emailed investigators stating again that Mr. Portelos hacked into the website he owned and distributed personal emails.
15. April 2012 -Rich Candia emailed investigators that Mr. Portelos sent a secret code to Rich Candia’s phone and retrieved his text history and distributed it to the staff.
16. April 2012 -Rich Candia emailed investigators that Mr. Portelos bashed IS 49 on Facebook.
17. April 2012 -Rich Candia alleges that Mr. Portelos “mailed” 2 harassing letters to Mr. Candia’s home.
18. April 2012 -Rich Candia alleged that Mr. Portelos posted pictures of students without parental consent. No parents have complained.
19. April 2012 -Rich Candia alleged that Mr. Portelos sent an email to the staff urging them not to share union matters.
After Mr. Portelos was removed from school:
20. May 2012 -Principal Hill alleges that Mr. Portelos emailed parents telling them that he posted lessons on his private website mrportelos.com
21. May 2012 -An unidentified teacher stated that they saw a message pop up on one of his classroom computers stating “Mr. Portelos’ class is fun“.
22. June 2012- Mr. Portelos also worked on his own clothing site called www.faceshop.me.
23. September 2012- Principal Hill alleged that Mr. Portelos remotely connected to his STEM lab and forced users to connect to his site www.mrportelos.com
24. September 2012- Teacher Jennifer Wolfson, Principal Hill and Richard Candia alleged that Mr. Portelos shared her teacher certification information with a parent in the community and it included her address and social security number.
25. October 2012- Principal Hill Alleged that Mr. Portelos hacked and manipulated the school’s voice mail system and routed listeners to his website www.occupywarrenstreet.org.
26. November 29, 2012- Principal Hill asked that Mr. Portelos redirected the site he owns, dreyfus49.com, to another site he owns, protectportelos.org.
27. November 30 2012- Principal Hill alleged that Mr. Portelos put hidden cameras and microphones in the staff lounge.
28. December 14, 2012- Superintendent Erminia Claudio alleged Mr. Portelos forwarded a video of an AP allegedly frisking a female student to community parents. A parent was going to put it on YouTube.
29. March 2013- Principal Hill alleged that Mr. Portelos informed students how to smuggle weapons into school on his blog.
30. April 2013- Principal Hill alleged that Mr. Portelos sent an anti-semetic, sexist and racist email to parents because he used the word “kosher” and his signature file quoted Martin Luther King Jr.
31. April 2013- Principal Hill alleged that Mr. Portelos uploaded a video of a student on youtube without permission.
32. May 2013- Principal Hill, Teacher Susanne Abramowitz and Teacher Richard Candia alleged that Mr. Portelos ordered several magazines to the school in the complainant’s name and then sent them the bill for it.
And there you have it. 32. All of which I believe, and can back up, are….unsubstantiated. SCI published a report about some of these that was extremely vague. So vague that even an AAA arbitrator could not make sense of it.

Francesco wrote Superintendent Erminia Claudio a letter:
Erminia Claudio
















Dear Superintendent Erminia Claudio,
II was summoned to your District 31 office for a disciplinary meeting last Friday May 3rd. At the meeting I indicated that I would like to exercise my right as a citizen and record the conversation. You indicated that I cannot. The meeting was postponed. I thought due to pending attorney review of the matter. This Wednesday I received another letter (attached), indicating I should meet you again today. In addition you wrote I "have no right" to record as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. You never cited an article or section. I believe that is because one does not exist and that was just another false statement made to me.
After being greeted by three School Safety Agents, I entered your office and stated that I'm again exercising my right to record. I also stated that the UFT told me to "stick to my guns". You stated there is a policy against it. You failed to reference any law, policy, regulation or article of our contract that prohibits me from recording. I thought you had a week to discuss with attorneys. You tried to imply that I did not want the meeting to take place. That is not true. I always want to explain what is happening and have done so many times on my website www.educatorfightsback.org.
The meeting ended and I left, but not because I wished it to. I'm more than happy to address the SCI report, without recording, if you can show me something that states I legally can't. I'm all about following the law.
On my 380th day of wrongful exile, I will drive 20 miles from my community school, and sit at an empty cubicle. The taxpayer will continue to cover that bill. This parent and educator is waiting to see when someone will step up to resolve this issue that has negatively affected countless children and adults.
Keep in mind that I'm still uncovering more allegations of financial misconduct on Principal Linda Hill. $40,000 in unsupervised overtime? Using the school credit card for personal items? Breaking down payments so she doesn't need authorization? Your signature appears to be missing from all time cards. Why? See All Down Hill

Francesco filed a Federal lawsuit to obtain justice. During this proceeding, which is ongoing, he received approximately 3,000 emails and posted many of these on his website. This is a nightmare for the NYC DOE, so the NYC Law Department filed a Motion for a Protective Order against any further exposure of intra-agency actions. This is, in all respects, a "gag" order. Francesco submitted opposition.

Ironically, I was in the same room with Federal Defendant Linda Hill and OSI Investigator Dennis Boyles on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. One of my teacher clients asked me to go with her to see OSI Investigator Katherine Higgenbotham at OSI, and write Ms. Higgenbotham that as she did not work for the DOE, she did not have UFT representation, and she was bringing an advocate with her. My client was told to come in for an interview about the complaint she filed against the Principal of her former school. She no longer works for the DOE, and of course I don't either. We got to 65 Court Street, 9th floor, a little early, so we sat in the waiting room not far from the large wall poster with DOE CEO Dennis Walcott's picture peering out over the top of a bouquet of fake blue roses, with glitter on them (how appropriate). When Ms. Higgenbotham came to the door of the offices to bring my client back inside for the interview, she looked at me and said, "Who are you"? Then "Do you work for the Department?" (my answer: "No") . My client told her that I was the advocate about whom she wrote would be accompanying her. Higgenbotham, in line with bizarre DOE "policy" told us that due to confidentiality I could not come inside, she just could not talk with my client with me in the room. We told Higgenbotham that my client waived all confidentiality, and that she did not work for the DOE Either, but the answer was still NO. So, my client went to the back office, then came out a few minutes later. She told me that Higgenbotham had told her she could give her an oral statement. My client said "No, I'm going to write a statement and I'm going outside to do it". She came outside, we wrote a statement about the principal in the waiting room, and she went back, with the statement and proof that OSI Investigator Andy Mina had already investigated the Principal and had dropped it. Higgenbotham knew nothing about this, she claimed, and said that this "changed everything".

Soon after I entered the OSI waiting room, a CSA Representative who knows me came into the room, said hello, and sat down. A short while later, Linda Hill came in and sat down. Turns out Ms. Hill was called in to be interviewed for wrong-doing, after she did not report a possible incident in her school, reported by none other than...Francesco Portelos. The OSI Investigator is Wei Liu. I was very surprised at the coincidence of being there at the same time as Linda Hill who was very upset with Francesco, she told her CSA rep. He is retaliating against her, she said, and the CSA rep. agreed, it's "simply awful". The CSA Rep. reminded Principal Hill, "I can't protect you if you don't report what happened". Then Dennis Boyles walked in, and strangely, did not see me at first. Mr. Boyles tried to get $5000 from me in 2004, but I refused to take his 'request' seriously. 

Boyles put his hand on Ms. Hill's right shoulder and said to the CSA Rep., "Ms. Hill and I are personal friends...this Portelos guy, he is legitimately nuts...we shouldn't worry about him, he is in a rubber room". He laughed. Dennis was speaking very loudly. Then Investigator Wei Liu came and asked Ms. Hill and her Rep. to come into the office - behind the locked doors - and Dennis started to leave the room. As he was turning the corner to leave, he looked back for a quick second. He disappeared for less than a minute, and then came back, and came over to me and my client. I said, "Hello, Ms. Boyles, how are you?" He grunted "fine" and then asked my client 3 times whether she needed anything. Neither of us told him her name. Then, he went into the office after asking the receptionist to buzz him in.

The push to shut Francesco up continues as he proceeds with his 3020-a "arbitration" (which is more like a criminal trial). Arbitrator Felice Busto, a very sweet lady who used to be connected with a thoroughbred rescue organization named ReRun, has asked NYSUT Attorney Chris Callagy and DOE prosecutor Jordana Shenkman to refrain from discussing any part of the 3020-a or write or post anything. Busto has also asked members of the public to not post the proceedings, and even though I do not have to comply, I will do whatever Arbitrator Busto requests at this point. Im sure that the entire "trial" will be on my blog and Francesco's when it is over and the decision is made.

NYC DOE Gotcha Squad Attorney Jordana Shenkman

So, I will not discuss any of the testimony or what has transpired during the hearing, but I will tell you here a little bit about the people involved. NYC DOE Attorney Jordana Shenkman loves being the center of public attention, it seems. She allowed Time Out magazine to do a spread about her apartment near me on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Ms. Shenkman, her co-prosecutor in the Portelos 3020-a Frances Hopson, and DOE Attorneys Jeffrey Gamils and Philip Olivieri, all now working for the Gotcha Squad, were all appointed Assistant District Attorneys in the Bronx, September 2004. On the same list is Gina Martinez, possibly the Director now of OPI who helped the DOE destroy the career of former District 19 Superintendent Martin Weinstein.

I have been watching and documenting the destruction of truth and integrity in the NYC Department of Education since 1999, when I, PTA President of Booker T. Washington MS 54, asked Lawrence ("Larry") Lynch, Principal, when we, the parents, would get our $13,000+ raised at a Barnes and Noble fundraiser, back. He gave our check to District 3 Superintendent Patricia Romandetto the money so she could "see it". As PTA President I was a member of the School Leadership Team (SLT) and saw that the Comprehensive Education Plan (CEP) which we were responsible for writing, had no data in it. I went to the District 3 office and a person there handed me a copy of the CEP which Larry Lynch had handed in - with the Xeroxed signatures of all of us from the previous year, the year that he was given $1 million in Title 1 funds the school was not eligible to receive. I was also given information that proved the special education students at MS 54 were not getting their services, and the money was flowing into the District 3 office through the unethical and dirty hands of DJ Sheppard, DOE Family Engagement Representative. I wrote a report about all of this and handed it in to District 3 on June 5, 2001, soon after winning the PTA President position for the third time (3 of my 4 daughters attended MS 54, so I was there more than 7 years). On June 7, 2001 DJ Sheppard, 10 white parents, Larry Lynch, and staff of Pat Romandetto, came to the last PTA meeting of the year and called me a "liar, child abuser and thief". The DOE created an "investigation" against me and went after all 4 of my children. The investigator, Richard Switach, became very friendly and told me how he had received the information, and who was behind it. He mentioned the names of DJ Sheppard and Theresa Europe.

Several years later, I worked with the Chinese parents at Stuyvesant High School in exposing the theft of money there, and we were all made into monsters for doing this. My name was defamed by parent Paola De Kock, who was then gathered into the clique run by Class Size Matters' Leonie Haimson, who vowed never to have my name or anything I write on her blogs.

So in 2003 when I started visiting the rubber rooms, asked by David Pakter to speak there with UFT members, I was not completely shocked with the false claims and baseless charges filed against tenured teachers. Luckily, I was given the "Mein Kampf" of the Bloomberg administration, the successful removal of the NYC Board of Education and a general public vote, as a way to obtain and keep democracy out of public schools. I thought that someone had to document this process known as "the rubber room", or "rubberization" (my definition of 'rubber room' is that this is not a place but a process), so I started attending the teacher trials known as 3020-a. The first "teacher trial" I attended, as an observer, lasted several months, the arbitrator was Senior panel member Martin Scheinman, and David's NYSUT Attorney was Chris Callagy.

We all got to know each other very well. I have been documenting the teacher trials ever since, for my book. The purpose of my writing on my blogs, website, and my book is to stop this random, arbitrary and shocking mess of teacher abuse in NYC and America as well as parent and student harassment. Sadly, parents attack other parents and school administrators use students to get false claims passed on to hearing officers as "facts". All of this I hope will stop.