Monday, January 24, 2011

Jim Callaghan Comments on Principal Iris Blige Outrage: Charges UFT Protected Blige

"Mulgrew should save his outrage about the Blige case for the UFT comic pages"- 
"Weingarten told me that most teachers in the rubber rooms were guilty and crazy"
-----Former NY Teacher reporter Jim Callaghan

We always knew the UFT leaders took the side of administrators but now we have it from the horse's mouth. A must read below is Callaghan's exposure of how the UFT leaders abandoned a teacher at Blige's school who had trumped up charges filed against her and was fired.

The UFT allows attack on chapter leaders to go unanswered - I could go into a bunch of stuff - but when the very lifeblood of the union is under assault it calls for drastic action. I even put up a reso at the DA calling for special protections and cover for chapter leaders over 10 years ago that was overwhelmingly turned down by Unity Caucus.

Blige is the poster girl for why we need tenure and LIFO. She went after teachers for no reason, was found guilty but instead of dumping her she was fined $7000. Chump change.

Here are some background stories:

Bronx principal keeps her job after imperiling the jobs of others ...
Ruining careers for $475/month (18 month term) « JD2718

And Ed Notes covered it a bunch of times:

Education Notes Online: Teachers Protest Principal Iris Blige at ..

Mar 13, 2009 ... The principal at this school, Iris Blige, is abusive, arrogant, and disrespectful of teachers. She has framed several teachers that for some ... - Cached - Similar

Education Notes Online: UPDATE: Highlights of the protest at ..

Mar 14, 2009 ... Winderbaum slammed into Iris Blige and her wayward approach to educators, kids, and schools and said the union is “fed up” with the DoE's ... - Cached

As long as they support principals who engage in vendettas against teachers, they will have to drag teachers kicking and screaming out of fighting for protections.Jim Callaghan was the NY Teacher reporter who did the most intensive work exposing the Bliges of this world - until he was fired in July 2010 for attempting to organize a union of reporters at the UFT. Here is a report on what went on behind the scenes in a comment he left at Gotham Schools story on Blige:

What the UFT Did and Didn't Do in the Blige Case
by Jim Callaghan, former reported for the NY Teacher

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.

The worst case of the Weingarten- Mulgrew Vichy collaboration involves the teacher accused of leaving a letter in Blige’s mailbox threatening to murder her! The letter said there was a “gang” led by the teacher who would kill the principal and her son.

Fifteen cops came to the school, interviewed no one except the teacher, lied to her and said they had her on video leaving the letter in the principal’s mailbox and had her fingerprints on the letter.

Then they changed the story to say it was her handwriting on the letter, which was announced by an Assistant Principal- tape recorded by a member- one week later- that was in February, 2009.

Now: think Tucson and the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords: What happened to the teacher after one “expert” detective said it was the teacher’s handwriting?

NOTHING! 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 misdeameanor. (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.

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.

Incredibly, Weingarten and Mulgrew allowed this shanda, like so many others they were complicit in, to stand unchallenged. So the only question still open is: what did they get out of it for themselves and
their UFT cronies?

My editor Deidre McFadyen and staff director LeRoy Barr denied me a vacation day-for the first time since I worked at the union- so I could attend the teacher’s court hearing on my own time--to give her moral support (I have the Barr email).

Weingarten pulled my story the day after the teacher got arrested; Weingarten, Barr, Mulgrew and others all said she was guilty- because she had been arrested. Weingarten told me the teacher was “guilty” because she had “heard” ---from another UFT Staff Director Garry Sprung- that the cops had the teacher’s fingerprints on the letter. I asked Weingarten when the grand jury met, when the teacher was indicted, when she was convicted and when she had exhausted all her appeals.

I had to shame Weingarten the Lawyer/ part-time “teacher” into finally running the story-two weeks after the arrest- after I reminded her about the 6th Amendment (Weingarten told me that most teachers in the rubber rooms were guilty and crazy, which is why I was allowed to run only one rubber room story-in October 2007).

When an Assistant Principal wanted to tell me the story about how she helped frame the teacher, Mulgrew, Barr and McFadyen refeused to let me run the story and Mulgrew wouldn’t even call the D.A. to say he was sending over an important witness to help clear the teacher.

So it is clear- I have lots more on this story and other Weingarten-Mulgrew cover ups of corruption outside and within the union- that the UFT leaders were protecting Klein and the members could
go to hell in a hand basket.

Weingarten $200,000 vacation days myth - or theft of service from the union
The Blige case is one of many that will stand out as the defining Weingarten-Mulgrew legacy of cowardice, double-dealing and abusing the rights of members whose dues they collect for their fat $400,000 salaries, unlimited expenses, a car and driver and “I never took a day off in 24 years” benefits but then refuse to represent them. (The Cal Ripken award for never missing a day’s work goes to Weingarten, except for this inconvenient truth: she took plenty of vacation days, some disguised as AFT “fact-finding” missions and others at her Amagansett country home where she instructed her press office and NY Teacher editors to send her faxes so she could claim she was “working from
home.” Uh- huh- just like every teacher working from home on the beach.

I blame Klein and Blige but Weingarten, Mulgrew, Barr and McFadyen could have exposed this horrible principal two years ago and chose instead to be part of the cover up, as they were at so many other schools which you will be reading about shortly.

When Mulgrew fired me in August 2010 for organizing a union-after 13 years of praise from him, Weingarten and hundreds of UFT officials and the members, he told the press I was unprofessional!
And what other word can we use to describe his perfidy and Weingarten’s abandonment of an accused teacher who came to America from Jamaica to fulfill the immigrant’s dream yet was crushed by the DOE-UFT steamroller?

If there was ever a PERB case for non-representation, this was it- although I lived through so many others when I had to argue with my editor McFadyen and the Weingarten-Mulgrew apparatchiks like Barr, Ellie Engler and McFadyen to get the stories in the union newspaper.

Mulgrew is so paranoid and vicious that he had McFadyen -at $150,000 a year---sit for days on end and go through the New York Teacher archives on line and take stories like Blige off the web site- she has disappeared into the dark hole of corruption that exists at the union. Mulgrew even ordered my name off the obit of Jack Newfield, who once wrote for the union!

How low can a such a self-styled tough guy get? Stay tuned- lots more to come.


  1. Don't think this sellout doesn't filter down to UFT school level reps, because it's apparent that it starts there.

  2. Weingarten is a bonafide liar. If she was allowed to continually lie about her school servicewhile she made her rounds in school buildings, what else does she lie about? She used to go to all of the school buildings around the '05 contract time and claim that she "was a teacher in the trenches for 7 years"...hogwash.

  3. Great post, Callaghan is a real pro and he obviously had enough of the back stabbing that went on under Weingarten and now Mulgrew. Gary Sprung a piece of crap who went behind other long time UFTers years ago to get his job. A pit bull for the real high ups. If you want to get to the real bottom of the pit focus on the finances since Randi brought Dave Hickey over after he was tossed literally out of the PBA. Follow the money, that is the way to uncover the fraud and outright stealing that the UFT big wigs are lining their pockets with. Sprung while a major jerk was at least competent. Leroy Barr and the current crew are as incompetent as many at the DOE. Not a rosy prospect for the teaching ranks.

  4. When our union is contaminated by opportunists, we must be compelled to take our own action in exposing the ugly truths that are emerging. Time unveils the truths. We who are in the trenches of this educational debacle must find ways to expose all who are not protecting the teacher and the child.

  5. ________________________________


    The CHIEF-Leader Newspaper published the following "Letter to the Editor" from David Pakter in 2010.

    The passage of time and the ever growing avalanche of dirty UFT laundry coming out has only served to corroborate the truth of my comments as published in The Chief at the time the UFT leadership put out their "hit" on this very courageous Reporter.

    No doubt there will be many new revelations re the UFT to surface in the future.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010
    Pakter on Callaghan: In The CHIEF

    Letters to the Editor
    Friday,September 17, 2010 Edition
    Search Archives

    THE CHIEF-LEADER welcomes letters from its readers for publication.
    Correspondents must include their names, addresses and phone
    numbers. Letters should be submitted with the understanding
    that all correspondence is subject to the editorial judgment of this

    UFT Canned Its Conscience -
    When It Fired Jim Callaghan

    To the Editor:

    There are no words that can adequately describe the level of deceit and viciousness displayed by the United Federation of Teachers when it fired the last person in its midst who possessed any real integrity.

    All the years I, a former Teacher of the Year and whistleblower, did battle with the city Department of Education and Joel Klein, Esq., the epitome of charlatans and phonies, it was Jim Callaghan who was the sole reporter within the UFT who followed my story, wrote about my journey through “the belly of the beast” of the DOE and refused to be a part of a vast cover-up within the union that my story was best swept under the rug —the better to keep things quiet for DOE’s benefit.

    Through years of hellish indifference by the union to my fate, it was Jim Callaghan who doggedly pursued my story and was able to get witnesses to speak and testified at my Teacher trial, thus acting as a major force in my ultimate exoneration, proving the school Principal and others had lied through their teeth while under sworn oath to tell the truth.

    Jim Callaghan was the sole voice of truth for years within the UFT.

    Like Edward R. Murrow at CBS, Jim Callaghan was the conscience of a vast organization not always up to the task of exercising “due diligence” in investigating the ongoing abysmal and even legally criminal treatment visited upon dedicated NYC Teachers.

    UFT members have been forced to suffer for years at the hands of Chancellor Joel Klein’s vast armies of lackeys, enforcers, stooges and vicious lapdogs who go after and visit misery and undeserved punishment on any Teacher who does not grovel at the feet of his well-paid taskmasters, whose primary mission is not so much to educate and protect New York City’s one million public school children but to crush by any means necessary any and all dissent that might arise.

    With Jim Callaghan’s very unfortunate and indeed tragic departure from the UFT, there is now nothing remaining at a once-great labor organization but smoke and mirrors.

    Please do what you can to pay homage and indeed take up the cause of a fellow reporter and most-ethical journalist who, like the immortal Shirley Chisholm, could not be bought and would not be silenced.

    It is time The Chief probed deeper into a story in which the true facts have not yet seen the light of day and have yet to be heard.


    Editor’s note:
    Mr. Pakter was honored for Exceptional Achievement in Education at City Hall by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
    Posted by ed notes online at Wednesday, September 15, 2010

  6. 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.

  7. 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)


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