Friday, May 4, 2012

UFT Sells Out Teacher: The Memo(s) Mulgrew doesn't want you to see

How complicit was Randi Weingarten, Michael Mulgrew and the UFT in the Raqnel James case as criminal principal Iris Blige, supported all the way by her fellow criminals at Tweed, claimed Raqnel James threatened to kill her but did not call the police for 2 months until NY Teacher reporter Jim Callaghan called her for a comment. Did Randi protect a State Ed Department official who blocked the release of a transcript that might have helped James?
Raqnel James called me last night “jittery” because she hasn’t heard from NYSUT. She claims she was told that your office had decided to wait until after August 1 to contact DOE on her behalf, which is the day her visa expires. --- Jim Callaghan to NYSUT Attorney Claude Hirsch, c.spring 2009
Really, how far off are we from China when this can happen? In a just world, Joel Klein, Dennis Walcott and everyone at Tweed perpetrating this injustice, along with Iris Blige, would be sitting in a cell. And maybe some people at the UFT too.

Fined after putting teachers through hell.

Lots more below.
Raqnel James was arrested in April 2009, the day after I called Blige for a comment on my story. The cops first showed up at the school in February.
Mulgrew told me that his friends in NYPD said they had a video of James leaving the letter [threatening Blige's life] in the principal's mailbox- a lie.
Then they said they had her fingerprints- a lie.
Then they said it was her hand writing, which  they failed to prove in court. That was the  ENTIRE  case against her! No one else in the entire school was interviewed. Blige was not given extra police protection. So this alleged assassin was sent to the rubber room. Think: if she had threatened to murder the mayor or the Chancellor. --- Jim Callaghan
When Raqnel James was exonerated in Dec. 2011, retired UFT Bronx staffer Rodney Grubiak (the guy who tried to block me from filming Randi Weingarten at the notorious UFT wine and cheese party attempt to undermine the ATR rally in Nov. 2008) wrote a Dec. 23, 2011 post on the jd2718 blog which did a lot of coverage of the Blige/James case: Lost Three Years of My Life – The Story of a Teacher Who May Never Teach Her Students Again. Naturally, Grubiak left out the sordid role the UFT/Unity Caucus masters he served for so many years played.

While the UFT supposedly gave James nominal support, this spring 2009 memo from Jim Callaghan drills deep on what went on behind the scenes. Why was Randi protecting a NY State Ed Department official by withholding information from Callaghan that would have helped James? Here is an excerpt talking about a State Ed Dept official blocking access to a transcript of the case and denying Jim access to information for his story.
The union and DOE agreed last June on a logical solution to the transcript problem. You told me that someone at SED “blocked it.” We were in the lobby when you mentioned the person’s name, but my question, so I could prepare a memo for Randi’s approval before the story runs, was how far “up the ladder” that person was and did we appeal her denial to higher authorities at SED including the Commissioner?  


There was no mention of who in the UFT didn’t want a reporter for the union paper to have any information on this when I have been assigned to [cover] the rubber rooms all school year. 

Your comment makes me sound like the Daily News, not a veteran of the New York Teacher.  I said to you: “I have no authority to publish anything in the paper. It is up to Randi and if she wanted to make an issue of the SED person denying our proposal, she would tell me to move forward or to drop it.” 
..........

What out of control principals can now do is invent charges against a well-respected teacher, have her reassigned and arrested and even if she is cleared, she will still be deported. As you know from my story, three DOE officials told me that Iris Blige threatened to destroy the union at the school and specifically targeted chapter leaders for banishment to the rubber room- both were sent back with no charges. Then she went after the third chapter leader.
------Jim Callaghan to NYSUT attorney Claude Hirsch et al.
Ed Notes and other bloggers have been covering this case for years and we have tied the role the UFT has played into it due to the work of Callaghan. See this story  posted at Ed Notes on Jan. 11, 2011 where Jim slams the UFT leadership.
Klein knew all about Blige and the recantation of an Assistant Principal because I wrote about it in the Spring of 2009 for the New York Teacher. It didn’t take a special Condon “investigation” to uncover the Blige horror show, supported by Mulgrew and Weingarten.

I quoted members who said Blige specifically went after chapter leaders and sent them to the rubber rooms on trumped up charges - they were never charged with anything and were all sent back to the classroom.


That was the last article I was allowed to write about Blige.


When the union had a rally on March 13, 2009, Weingarten sent out a press advisory (I have a copy) knocking the total number of protesters down to 50 after she was told that 500 would attend. So even then the union was protecting Blige.
Given Callaghan's explosive info below, are these rallies held merely for the purpose of domestic consumption -- ie. to make the members THINK the leadership is doing something while behind the scenes doing something else? How does a union allow its very lifeblood, the chapter leaders, to be savaged in so many schools? I believe they try to keep all this under cover because they don't have the stomach to fight it but don't want members to know just how weak -- and gutless -- they are.

Jim wrote this in Jan. 2011, about a year BEFORE James was exonerated:
It is a New York State felony to threaten the murder of a public official. Nothing happened to the teacher until eight weeks later, in April, 2009, after I called Blige for a comment on my story. The next day, the teacher was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. (Even if she is found guilty, she will serve 15 days of community service picking up garbage on the Grand Concourse).

The Bronx D.A.- elected with help from the UFT- did not ask for bail, didn’t ask for the teacher’s passport to be lifted and the principal never asked for extra police protection for Blige, parents, students and the staff.


Despite my urging, Weingarten refused to call the D.A. and ask that he personally look at the case. There was no police probe of the gang. The teacher - this horrible accused murderer beloved by her students and colleagues -- was sent back to the rubber room.


Nearly two years later, after the D.A. Robert Johnson asked for 15 postponements, there has been no trial and the case is still open.
[Ed Note- Show me one statement from the UFT raising this issue --- teachers forgotten and abandoned].

What would have happened if a teacher wrote a letter like that to Bloomberg of Klein?


The teacher ultimately lost her job because neither Mulgrew nor Weingarten nor NYSUT lawyer Claude Hirsch lifted a finger to help her. She never had a 3020A hearing. Klein used a loophole in the law saying he could refuse to approve her application for a work visa if she was merely “accused” of misconduct.

More Ed Notes coverage from March 13 and 14, 2009:
Teachers Protest Principal Iris Blige at ..The principal at this school, Iris Blige, is abusive, arrogant, and disrespectful of teachers. She has framed several teachers that for some ...

And this video UPDATE: Highlights of the protest written by my ICE colleague Julie Woodward where you can see Mulgrew, Leroy Barr and Bronx Borough slug Jose Vargas along with Bronx HS District Rep Lynne Winderbaum, who many consider a real trooper who did what she could for teachers, slammed into Iris Blige and her wayward approach to educators, kids, and schools and said the union is “fed up” with the DoE's ...

Well as Callaghan indicates in his memo from the spring of 2009, not all that fed up.


Updating the Raqnel James case: How complicit was the UFT? Jim Callaghan who was fired as a reporter for the NY Teacher in the summer of 2010 reveals memo which he posted on Schoolbook with this introduction:


How NYSUT lawyer Claude Hirsch and UFT lawyer Adam Ross - a nepotism hire - sold out their client with the approval of Weingarten and Mulgrew and how they and Carol Gerstl, another UFT lawyer, allowed an innocent teacher to be railroaded by Bloomberg, Klein and Walcott and Mike- three years without a contract - Mulgrew.

Jim Callaghan's letter to Hirsch, Ross, Gerstl, Weingarten. 
They did nothing to help her! There are hundreds of other stories like this that mulgrew wants to cover up.
The memos that Mulgrew doesn't want you to see. Lots more to come.
Claude,
Raqnel James called me last night “jittery” because she hasn’t heard from NYSUT. She claims she was told that your office had decided to wait until after August 1 to contact DOE on her behalf, which is the day her visa expires.

As we discussed on the elevator today, the June 5th NYSUT Legal memo regarding Raqnel James is not clear to me. (Although the memo states I was copied on June 5th, I saw it for the first time last week).

The memo is wrong when it states that the DOE “renews” visas.

That is not the case. DOE sponsors the visa and. DOE has a written policy of withdrawing applications for teachers who “are suspended or reassigned for any reason.” This was addressed in the NYSUT memo as: “DOE has not officially been told that DOE will not renew her visa.”

But the DOE written policy makes it clear that DOE will not sponsor Raqnel while she is reassigned.

This raises an important question: is the DOE policy legal or is it just a bureaucratic opinion? This was not addressed in the NYSUT memo.

The conclusion of the June 5 NYSUT Legal memo concludes that it is “unclear” whether the H-1B visa can be renewed but then states that Ms. James has a legitimate claim only if she can establish that she could renew her visa but for the failure of DOE to cooperate.
The memo states that Ms. James claims the INS can renew her visa beyond six years. (It is still unclear to if there a six year limitation or not).

When you asked me today; “What do you want us to do?” I said I don’t know the law well enough, but I know DOE unfairness when I see it.

What out of control principals can now do is invent charges against a well-respected teacher, have her reassigned and arrested and even if she is cleared, she will still be deported. As you know from my story, three DOE officials told me that Iris Blige threatened to destroy the union at the school and specifically targeted chapter leaders for banishment to the rubber room- both were sent back with no charges. Then she went after the third chapter leader.

Adam suggested one possibility in his April 14 email to you:

“Claude - if you are not already, would you please look into whether an Art.78 could be filed along the lines of what you have filed for other teachers who the DOE has acted to have their H1B visa revoked because of alleged disciplinary issues.”

Adam’s issue was not addressed in the NYSUT memo and you told me yesterday he was “confused.”

I asked Randi on April 14 if a NYSUT could lawyer help (Raqnel) with this dilemma:
I wrote: “It might be a Pyrrhic victory because her work visa expires on August 1. I have a posting from DOE saying it will not sponsor teachers for visas if they are reassigned.”
Randi said: “Yes.”

In answer to my question the next day, you said “Yes, she (Raqnel) gets 30 minutes with the immigration attorney plus the NYSUT attorney.” (Emphasis mine). And you said she would get “assistance” from NYSUT Legal. Your quote was: “We would be happy to try to assist Raqnel James in regards to her immigration attorney. We have been assisting a number of international teachers who are facing visa issues” and you added that she is entitled to a free 30 minute consultation with an outside immigration attorney.

So this is the news so far: DOE, with taxpayer funds, has forced Raqnel to hire a criminal defense attorney fight bogus charges and an immigration lawyer to keep her in the country.
What can NYSUT do for her? Can we ask DOE official that they sponsor her for the upcoming school year pending the outcome of her “criminal” charges? Can we go to court to see if their policy is legal?

I am not arguing the law with you, but to tell me today that “DOE hasn’t done anything yet” is not the point. Yes they have: they will not sponsor her while she is reassigned. The answer to the entire issue remains unclear. (E.g. whether the six year limitation can be extended and secondly: is there a stay that can be obtained until such time as a legal opinion is provided or her criminal matter is resolved?)

The fact is that DOE will not sponsor her while she is reassigned. I respect your opinion that “We don’t know if we would win the case against DOE” even though the NYSUT memo says “it is not clear” whether the visa can be renewed—it is not even clear what the “case” would be at this point.

But that leaves Raqnel one month before she faces the possibility of deportation.
Her case of threatening to murder a public official of the City of New York is being taken so seriously by the D.A. that even if she is found guilty, Donald said she is not going to jail for a misdemeanor conviction. The cops waited two months to arrest her after they found a “perfect” hand writing match. She must have some horrible danger to the community, for the arrest came on the next school day after I called Blige for comment.

My article pointed out that no other staffers or students at the school were interviewed and the detectives went straight to Raqnel because Blige said she “suspected” Raqnel of leaving a murder threat in her own hand-writing.

On another topic, we also discussed the transcript problem in early April and you promised to get back to me on the number of teachers who still don’t have a decision because the arbitrators haven’t ruled yet because they are waiting for the transcripts or just because they haven’t ruled according to the statute.

You said you were having a difficult time getting the information from the lawyers on your staff but assured me it was only “one or two cases,” You never sent me the information on the one or two cases.”

You wrote on May 8th: “The June (2008) side letter stated that DOE and the UFT would look into the feasibility of paying for the transcripts up front and the State Education Department was not interested in such an arrangement. More importantly, it appears that the transcripts have been coming much more quickly (my emphasis). It is still a problem that the State is not paying arbitrators promptly. I assume it still a problem regarding the court reporting company as well.”

However, at the April TRC meeting, one of your lawyers said that members are still waiting “two to four months” for decisions because of a delay in payments for transcripts and arbitration fees. This is a summary of her statement, taken from the UFT minutes of that meeting:

“Members who are awaiting the results of hearings should know that the New York State Education Department (SED) pays the cost of transcripts and arbitration fees and there has been a delay in these payments due to the budget situation, leading to a 2 to 4 month delay in the issuance of transcripts.” (Emphasis mine).

Your lawyer added: “We are in discussions with the SED and the DOE to speed up the process. NYSUT attorneys determine their need for a final transcript prior to the production of our closing argument on a case by case basis. It is our position arbitrators should have the hearing transcript prior to issuing a decision. We are working with the DOE and the arbitrators so we can best meet member needs related to adherence to time frames for pre-hearings, hearings and issuance of transcripts.”

When Randi told me last month to do another rubber room story, I thought a good place to start would be to see if the letter we signed last June was helping to clear up these cases.
The union and DOE agreed last June on a logical solution to the transcript problem. You told me that someone at SED “blocked it.” We were in the lobby when you mentioned the person’s name, but my question, so I could prepare a memo for Randi’s approval before the story runs, was how far “up the ladder” that person was and did we appeal her denial to higher authorities at SED including the Commissioner? I also asked if the denial was in writing and when it happened. On May 15, I asked you for the number of 3020A cases that were finished where we have no decisions and the dates they were completed.

You wrote back to me: “I am not just ignoring you. I am trying to find out from the UFT what they want me to release to you.” There was no mention of who in the UFT didn’t want a reporter for the union paper to have any information on this when I have been assigned to [cover] the rubber rooms all school year.

Your comment makes me sound like the Daily News, not a veteran of the New York Teacher. I have never had that sort of conversation with you before- and I said to you: “I have no authority to publish anything in the paper. It is up to Randi and if she wanted to make an issue of the SED person denying our proposal, she would tell me to move forward or to drop it.”

If our members are being held to the standards involving time and attendance, then so should the SED, DOE and the arbitrators. There is no excuse for delaying the payment to a transcription company or to an arbitrator while our members suffer the indignity of the rubber rooms.

So, without releasing any names of clients,

I would still like to know how many arbitration decisions are outstanding after the final hearing despite the Education Law’s 30 day rule and specifically, how many are due to transcription issues and how many are due to the fact that arbitrators haven’t ruled in a timely fashion even after they get the final transcripts.

Thank you,
Jim
AfterBurn
Here are some worthwhile comments from that Jan. 2011 Ed Notes piece:
  1. I am surprised that Callaghan- the best writer in the union- didnt get all the facts straight.
    After Weingarten wrote to Raqnel James that she was entitled to a NYSUT lawyer to handle her visa issues--- and would get one--- Claude Hirsh, Melinda Gordon and ADam Ross over- ruled Weingarten and declined to take the case.
    Ask anyone at NYSUT- most of them despise Hersch who treats them like kids. Then Garry Sprung's good buddy, lawyer Donald Vogelman, never asked for a dismissal until this year after racking up $500 a pop for court 15 "apppearances" over two years.
    When Raqnel James is acquitted, NYSUT will pay James who will then give the money to Vogelman.
    so: How close are Ross and Hersch to Vogelman?
    -Chief Justice Jeff Zahler.
    ReplyDelete
  2. Donald SegrettiMar 16, 2011 05:14 PM
    I dont know why anyone would post a note from Chief Justice Zahler, the low life Red-baiter, Weingarten's stooge.
    Just because he got his incompetent nephew- Adam Ross- a $190,000 a year job to kiss ass at the UFT is no reason to make fun of Zahler, who is now collecting four pensions.
    -Little Lord Flaunteroy (Adam)

Results of google search below the fold:


  1. Raqnel James – Not Guilty! « JD2718

    jd2718.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/raqnel-james-not-guilty/
    Dec 21, 2011 – Raqnel James won a just verdict, but when will real justice come? Three years ago Fordham HS for the Arts principal Iris Blige had Raqnel ...
  2. I Lost Three Years of My Life – The Story of a Teacher Who May ...

    jd2718.wordpress.com/.../i-lost-three-years-of-my-life-the-story-of-a...
    Dec 23, 2011 – Raqnel James who was born and educated on the beautiful Island of Jamaica arrived in this country carrying the same hopes and dreams that ...
  3. Ruining careers for $475/month (18 month term) « JD2718

    jd2718.wordpress.com/.../ruining-careers-for-475month-18-month-t...
    Jan 22, 2011 – Blige claimed that Raqnel James also threatened her. After an unblemished eight-year teaching career, this beloved teacher found herself ...

  4. Ed Notes Online: Jim Callaghan Comments on Principal Iris Blige ...

    ednotesonline.blogspot.com/.../jim-callaghan-comments-on-principal...
    Jan 24, 2011 – I am surprised that Callaghan- the best writer in the union- didnt get all the facts straight. After Weingarten wrote to Raqnel James that she was ...
  1. JD2718

    jd2718.wordpress.com/Apr 23, 2006
    Raqnel James who was born and educated on the ...

    Leonie HaimsonLeonie Haimson shared this on Blogger · Dec 1, 2010 · Public
  2. NYC Rubber Room Reporter: Raqnel James Wins Her Case

    nycrubberroomreporter.blogspot.com/.../raqnel-james-wins-her-case....
    Feb 20, 2012 – Raqnel James won a just verdict, but when will real justice come? Three years ago Fordham HS for the Arts principal Iris Blige had Raqnel ...
  3. Big Education Ape: Raqnel James – Not Guilty! « JD2718

    bigeducationape.blogspot.com/.../raqnel-james-not-guilty-jd2718.ht...
    Dec 22, 2011 – Raqnel James won a just verdict, but when will real justice come? Three years ago Fordham HS for the Arts principal Iris Blige had Raqnel ...
  4. nyceducationnews : Message: Re: [nyceducationnews] Iris Blige ...

    groups.yahoo.com/group/nyceducationnews/message/41870
    Dec 21, 2011 – After three years, twenty-four postponements, loss of her job, an

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