Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Francesco Portelos: Teacher Under Assault by Principal Linda Hill

UPDATE: Former students put up Facebook page:

This is both an old and a new story.

Sunday at the robotics tournament at the Javits Convention Center I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Staten Island teacher and coach Francesco Portelos of the IS 49 SI team. He is the father of a 10 month old with another on the way. I found him one of the most engaging people I spoke to that day.

ONLINE IRE: Francesco Portelos (above) has outraged IS 49 principal Linda Hill by airing in-school disputes on the Web.Before I go any further, I want to say that the teacher/coaches involved wit FLL robotics are amongst the most dedicated teachers I know. Francesco was giving up his entire Sunday (8AM-5PM)without being paid a dime.

I had been informed that he was under attack by his principal Linda Hill because he had asked a question at a Leadership Team meeting about the budget. I had heard he had a web site www.protectportelos.org but had not had a chance to check it out.

He told me decided to get more involved in activities outside the classroom. He became a UFT delegate and joined the School Leadership Team. He made it very clear: he can stand up to any heat and is willing to go to the mat no matter what happens, so read below with that in mind. He is one determined teacher to stay the course. If they try to fire this guy he will be the poster boy for LIFO and tenure.

One more thing. The role his UFT chapter chair who has stabbed him in the back and supported the principal. Think the CL is Unity Caucus? Wouldn't surprise me.

It turns out that the NY Post on Sunday had a page 4 article by Sue Edelman featuring his story and he wasn't happy that it opened with, "A teacher with a chip on his shoulder..." Given that Francesco was coaching the robotics team it should read, "computer chip."

He told me the principal had an investigation of him launched but he has no idea what it is about.  One day they showed up at his door and confiscated his school computer. They asked for his laptop and ipad. He told them since it was a half day they were home. So they ESCORTED HIM HOME to pick them up. Really unbelievable.

Now I know Sue Edelman (her aunt lives next door) and I called her with my outrage over why the Post wasn't at Javits doing a story about the kind of work Francesco and most teachers do (we had 82 teams there). I pointed out that he is a Polytech (one of our main backers) grad, a trained engineer who left the field to teach, which he has been doing for almost 5 years. (Thank goodness for tenure-- special note to e4e jackasses). Can you imagine how valuable he is to the school? But with asshole principals running around who think they are kings or queens, the mere fact of asking a question about the budget can lead to an attempt to destroy you.

Sue said the Post was actually sympathetic to him and said they would send a photographer. I never saw one --- must have slipped through the cracks.

Also, Cynthia R. Fagen who co-wrote the article came to Francesco's home one day in the usual slimy "60 minutes" style. I warned Sue as I am warning all reporters. Pull a surprise visit like these hit jobs on teachers and we will start publishing where you live and invite teachers to visit you when you get quotes wrong -- as almost every holier than thou reporter often does. When I raise this they have the nerve to say, "we're just giving the teacher a fair chance to respond." How about a phone call or a request for an interview? 

The article points out that his blog:
chronicles a worsening tiff that started when Portelos accused Hill of breaking the chancellor’s rules by not sharing the school’s $7.7 million budget with a panel of parents and staff tasked with reviewing it, a charge the DOE denied Friday. Soon after, Hill slapped Portelos with three letters in 10 days charging him with unprofessional conduct and insubordination. She accuses him of screaming at and cursing a fellow teacher — which he denies — sending a mass e-mail to staff without her approval and staying in school past 5:30 p.m. without her written permission.
Francesco stays in school working so late, he has been locked in once or twice.

Note the DOE denied the charge but there seems to be some proof in the years of School Leadership minutes which were just sent to me. It is 38 pages and if anyone wants to check them out email me and I'll send you the pdf. (See below).

You tell me if you think the Post article is favorable to him when it says, "
An IS 49 insider called Portelos “a loose cannon.”
Did they try to find a favorable quote? That is favorable?
Here is the caption from the article
ONLINE IRE: Francesco Portelos (above) has outraged IS 49 principal Linda Hill (below) by airing in-school disputes on the Web.
Linda Hill is principal of IS 49.
Is that caption amazing. He drew HER ire?

The story just took a leap when an email was sent out to a bunch of press people. Again, email me at normsco@gmail.com if you want a pdf of the minutes.


Please read and look into. 
I believe this is worth taking a look at. Sources at Berta Dreyfus IS 49 told me the following and I sent it in because it is worth investigating the possibility of theft of services. Now that I have seen the recent articles pertaining to a teacher under attack after simply asking the principal  about the budget makes me think this is more real than I originally thought. Regardless if the allegations are true or not to be attacked for questioning anything of public concern is wrong in itself.

1st Allegation sent to SCI. It was then referred to OSI and no one has heard anything in over a month.
From: *******
To: "rcondon@nycsci.org" <rcondon@nycsci.org>
Subject: Principal Possible Double Dipping

Mr. Condon,
    It appears that the Principal of IS 49 in Staten Island has found the Goose that lays the Golden Egg. She acquired the DANA program for the school a couple of years ago. It is basically a program for students who were left back and given a chance to catch up by attending after school classes until 5pm. I really do not know the details, but apparently there are a lot of hours punched in and no one to oversee this. Personnel have been observed to carry several punch in cards and punch them all in for members not present including the Principal. They have noticed that she has been out stick, but suddenly appears at the building for this program. Example Dates are 11/31 and 12/1 of 2011. 

This might be hard to prove, but what may be easier is the fact that as a member of the SLT, which already gets a stipend, she also punches in (or is punched in and out) for DANA with per session. She already gets paid to sit in on one meeting yet is punched in for DANA?

To see some evidence one would have to simply cross reference the minutes of the SLT with her per session card timesheets. See attached. [Email normsco@gmail.com].

From: Joseph Catapano <jcatapano@nycsci.org>
To: ******
Sent: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 8:49 AM
Subject: 2012-0597 R-OSI IS049

            Please be advised that the information you reported has been reviewed by the Office of the Special Commissioner (SCI) and the decision has been made to refer the matter to the Chancellor’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) for appropriate action. You can contact OSI at 718-935-3800 or at OSI-INQUIRIES@Schools.nyc.gov for further information. 
Thank you,

2nd Allegation of possible Theft of Services
Also in addition to this Assistant Principal ******* is seen every Monday (at around 2:30pm) going into a drawer in the main office and grabbing 5-6 time cards from the secretaries locked desk. She walks to the machine and punches in the cards and then locks them up again. Why? We were told it is for an ELL after school program. The same program she was seen punching in for last Spring before walking to her car and leaving the building. She was somehow clocked out 2 hrs later. Tax payer money? That was apparently called in to OSI and never heard about again. The above story was sent to SCI and then as you can see demoted down to OSI and again we heard nothing. 
Is SCI spending its time on confiscating Portelos' equipment instead of investigating the principal?

Norm, the story about Francesco is on my website and blog, 11 days ago:
and I spoke with Sue Edelman, who thought she would do the story after speaking with me.

Betsy Combier


Betsy Combier said...

Norm, the story about Francesco is on my website and blog, 11 days ago:
and I spoke with Sue Edelman, who thought she would do the story after speaking with me.

Betsy Combier

ed notes online said...

Thanks for the update Betsy. I'll add to the main post.

Anonymous said...

I was a member of SLT at IS49 as the title 1 rep. If Ms. Hill didn't like my questions and didn't want to answer them, she would act like a 12yr old and say, "you know ms. wright, i'm really trying to get along with you." if she made a face or disliked any of my questions then she had her puppets chime in and attack me with negative comments and discouraging me from asking or speaking my mind. she demanded 1500 dollars from the title 1 money ASAP. I told her I needed to speak with higher ups and she quoted me again with, u know ms. wright, i'm really trying to get a long with you. and asking me who do I need to speak with and when will I get back to her. I told her Tuesday, which was two days later and she huffed and puffed like she was going to blow me down. when saturday rolled around she sent me an email telling me to disregard her request.

Anonymous said...

I was the title 1 rep and when I asked a question at the PTA meeting about the safe room, I was told at an executive meeting that was set up to intimidate me from asking negative questions in front of parents. I was told by sherina peterkins the so called president of the PTA and the so called leader in charge, Ms. Hill, that I am to stop whatever I am doing and ask ms. hill these questions in her office. that if my question is personal that I am to go to the principal in private. you stupid clowns, my son goes to your school and everything that happened or happens in this school is personal to me. I told them whatever. that if I want to ask a question I will ask it at the PTA.

Anonymous said...

I was harassed by ms. hill's security officers. she had only two black females escorting me around like I was a criminal. everyone else walked in that school with no escorts except me. I called mike riley to complain. it stopped for 2 weeks and started up again. this was all because ms. hill didn't like that I was asking a lot of questions about the budget, the title 1 funds, questioning the CFN and just asking positive questions about the kids' welfare when it came to education. as a title 1 rep I was treated like shit. but I didn't care because I knew that heifer couldn fire me. one time even one of the officers interpreted for me in English back to English. go figure. I have a lot of stories about this piece of shit school