Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Michael Stanzione Files: As Case Falls Apart, NY Post to the Rescue

Coming to a cell phone near you

The other evening, just as my 24 guests were sitting down to a sedar, I get a call from the NY Post's Sue Edelman asking me to confirm certain information about what the teacher posted on Faebook, all negative, of course, which I refused to do. Was the info leaked by the DOE as they saw their case going down the tubes? Or maybe the NY Post just hacked into the teacher's phone. I imagine the next step is for the Post to send a reporter and photographer to the teacher's home to catch as unflattering as possible photo of her.  ---- Norm Scott
What happens when a popular teacher with students, parents and other teachers makes a joke on a Facebook post? What message is being sent when this teacher is African-American in a sea of disappearing African-American teachers from the NYC public school system, in a school with a principal who has gone after 2 female teachers of color and hires mostly young white teachers with a certain look?

The Bloomberg/Tweed strategy: if you can't fire them with outrageous charges, get the NYC Press to help you out.

I attended parts of the first two days of a 3020a hearing of a teacher charged with inappropriate Facebook posts on April 3 and 4 and I am so glad I did.

I was lucky enough to catch the direct and the devastating cross examination by NYSUT lawyer Chris Callegy of High of Economics and Finance principal Michael Stanzione. Boy, what a worm this guy is: narrow, paranoid and chilling in demeanor -- the very model of what Tweed wants in an administrator.

The DOE lawyer, Andrea Chilaka, flailed away with one objection after another, trying to keep any hint that the teacher was top notch off the record, often saying, "that is irrelevant to this case." Yes, Andrea, we know that trying to retain excellent and effective teachers is irrelevant to the real interests of the DOE, as proven time and again with bogus charges.

[See: Peter Lamphere. Or Chaz who tells his horror story here:
My Story On What Really Happened And Why The Independent Arbitrator Gave Me Only A $2,000 Fine In The 3020-a Hearing. And another of the NY Post's daily hits -- based on my new fave expression "FOX facts" which should be applied to any Rupert media outlet -- did I coin this phrase or steal it?.]

Bloomberg media blitz to end LIFO

Blogger Chaz was exposed in Friday's NY Times hit job on how it is so hard it is to fire teachers, one of the many expected media salvos to try to end LIFO. Today they did a follow-up somewhat more sympathetic to the teacher --- like at least attempting to deal with the issue of a teacher showing affection to students (now banned) vs. being charged with a sexual act. See- In Successful Fight to Keep Job, Music Teacher Cited Double Standard by City.  (I taught 4-6th graders and though I never put children on my lap I probably did tickle a few at some point. Can I talk about the time five 7th grade girls slept over my house with their parents' permission and my wife's too - yes, it's called TRUST, something the DOE is trying to wipe out? Can I take my 45 year old former student to dinner without risking arrest - see sidebar - pic of a loser in a blue leisure suit with a kid. She is now 45 and we have a dinner date. Haven't seen her since she was 16. Has the statute of limitations run out?)

Every single person I know who knows Chaz says he is a superb teacher and to persecute a guy because he told a student he was so proud of her for passing an exam he could kiss her is beyond outrage. Is the FOX Facts NY Post and the NY Times questioning how much money the DOE tossed down the drain to persecute Chaz?

Gotham reported that Bloomberg was whining "that arbitrators in misconduct hearings ruled in favor of the union. (Politicker)" without pointing out that the city must approve every arbitrator. Duh! The reason arbitrators are ruling for teachers is due to the level of outrageous charges, especially when even the DOE admits the case has nothing to do with the quality of the teacher.

A popular and effective teacher
And thus it is with the Facebook teacher, who even Stanzione admitted was not only a good teacher but one that students gravitated to, as did other teachers. In fact she was Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA) and was chosen to represent the school at recruiting fairs with the approval of Stanzione --- an unpaid volunteer position.  She was so popular with students, I imagine she had grown so comfortable with them that she said a few things on Facebook that look bad when in isolation, but as pointed out by union lawyer Callegy, nothing that isn't said all the time in teacher rooms, which Stanzione readily acknowledged. There was quite a good discussion between Callegy and Stanzione about the definition of "sarcasm." (By the way, the teacher was voted by the students as "most sarcastic" teacher.)

I will do separate posts on the details of the case and reveal more about Stanzione's actions as principal in follow-ups. Look for all of the upcoming Michael Stanzione Files on the sidebar.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for more FOX facts from the NY Post as they target this teacher, "facts" which many in the school community will fight vigorously.

And check out RBE's:


Unknown said...

Don't Tread on Educators! We need to ban together and fight back. Gone are the days of the school of Athens, when teachers were put up on a pedestal and honored. Norm, will you be at my 3020A hearing next year? ;) Maybe they won't go that route. may be working.

ed notes online said...

If I'm in town I'm there. We have to fight them in the media. Once I get out from under on this case I will pub what is happening to you.

Anonymous said...

The teachers at this school are scared to death of the principal. That is the way he likes it. His paranoid style of leadership has been responsible for an exodus of some of the best teachers. Members of the Parents' Association voiced objections and doubts to Stanzione becoming principal. The union assured them that Stanzione was an effective leader.

5 years later and what are we left with? A school of isolated staff members where alumni, who are wonderful and successful people, are harassed when they try to visit the school. Teachers are afraid to have lunch with their students or have any type of contact with them outside of the classroom. Oh yeah, the chapter leader that had defended Stanzione to the PA was excessed after being in the school for several years. The chapter leader after that was also excessed.

As the circumstances of this 3020a hearing show, it does not matter what you do for Stanzione or his school. He does not trust anyone except the one or two administrators who attach themselves to his coattails. This is a dark and dangerous man, someone who has more skeletons in his closet than anyone can imagine.

ed notes online said...

Tell us more about the Stanzione/union connection. Any connection to Unity Caucus?

Anonymous said...

Definitely not. Stanzione is not smart enough to make a distinction between Unity and other, more radical groups.

However, I have heard from pretty reliable sources that the union's stance on Stanzione is "work with him". I mean the union at the district level. The school level union is in a shambles. The CL is very radical but has no traction with the staff because the fear is too palpable.

Also, I heard Leo Casey visited the school a few weeks ago. Who knows what came of that?

The union in general has been cooperative with Stanzione over the years. It has not made a dime's worth of difference. Unity wants the teachers there to continue to be cooperative but it only ends up making him stronger.

Anonymous said...

"...Can I take my 45 year old former student to dinner without risking arrest - see sidebar?"

I can't find any reference to this in the sidebar. Where can I find it...?

ed notes online said...

See a pic of a loser in a blue leisure suit with a kid. She is now 45 and we have a dinner date. Haven't seen her since she was 16.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the source of information posted on this blog, but it seems time could be better spent than by anonymously attacking the character of others. It is very difficult indeed to take responsibility for one's own behavior. As funny as it might seem to make jokes on-line, it is also irresponsible. Neither teachers nor student are not afraid of Mr. Stanzione and just because he acted in defense of the students in his charge, it does not make him a "racist." Documented statements should not be made, or ignored, and the media is now inundated with cautionary tales proving this point. The internet has changed the way society communicates and now, for some reason, private thoughts no longer exist. We should all realize that every nuance of our imagination does not deserve posting and broadcasting to the world. You can’t unring a bell. I am saddened by all of the negative attention that has resulted from a careless comment, and hope the lesson is learned because the result is unlikely to change.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stanzione,

Speaking of behavior, who will hold you accountable for yours? Talk about irresponsible:

What we heard on April 5, when the Principal, Michael Stanzione, came in, was that two days before, Stanzione was told by "legal" to call in a student who was named on Dawson's Facebook page but had never seen it or heard about it, and he was asked to testify to how he "felt" more than 14 months after the Facebook comment was made, and almost as many months after the Facebook page was permanently removed from the internet by Ms. Dawson.

Is this what you mean by being unable to unring a bell? Seems like once the bell was rung, you went out of your way to help it ring even louder.

I guess this is what you mean by protecting the children at your school too.

You wanted to protect your children so much that you did not call the police on all of the gun comments the students made on that Facebook post. I guess you have a very selective idea of who we need to be protected from. It is only a joke if the students say it, not if Patricia Dawson says it.

The media is inundated with tales of vengeful school boards and administrators who twist things people say on Facebook in order to have a pretense to fire them. The tale of you and Ms. Dawson is one of those tales. No employee is safe as long as people like you have any control over their careers.

Before you get high and mighty about holding people "accountable" for their actions, realize that pointing one finger at someone means pointing 3 back at yourself.

I am saddened by the fact that the teachers I used to know at Eco cower in fear of what you are capable of.

Anonymous said...

From: The Rail Candidate (

The comment above in defense of Stanzione’s behavior is so incredibly ridiculous: 'incredible' in its complete lack of credibility, and ridiculous in that it is deserving of ridicule (and some laughter). This comment was no doubt made by Michael Stanzione, himself, or one of the sycophantic followers in his administration. It is simply rich that someone who chastises others for "anonymously attacking the character of others" should himself post a comment: anonymously. Rich! This comment was so obviously made by Stanzione in defense of his inexcusable behavior. It reeks of the antiquated diction he so frequently spews over the school's PA system: he acted in "defense of students in his charge." What a laughingly antiquated thing to say from an insecure and vitreous personality who couldn't identify ten students from the student body, if they stood in front of him with name tags. "His charge!" Rich! "Documented statements should not be made, or ignored..." What a louse! Can you qualify this statement for us Mr. Michael Stanzione? What type of documented statements should teachers avoid making? Should teachers simply stop writing things on paper all together and simply stand, dictatorially pontificating, to their students as they (the students) sit waiting to imbibe each word? Sorry, we are not your teachers, who you entrap week after week, month after month, and year after year into time-consuming, endless "professional" development meetings in which you regale them with pointless stories about your restricted and quarantined upbringing. By the way, your comment (believe it or not) is a "documented statement."

The most telling statement in this comment is the Freudian Slip: "Neither teachers nor students are not afraid of Mr. Stanzione..." This double negative translates into, you guessed it, 'teachers and students ARE afraid of Mr. Stanzione. Please stop me, if I'm going too fast for you.

The real problem here is not a senseless comment made on a social media site. Indeed, the real problem here is a fundamental lack of respect for the civil rights of teachers and students, alike. I hate to let Michael Stanzione off the hook (especially after he took the time to read this blog post and respond incomprehensibly), but he is simply a rudimentary manifestation of a larger cancer that exists in the New York City public school system. He is the product of a system which has completely devalued the need for teachers to educate their students by knowing them; by recognizing their needs; and by respecting them. Instead, the Stanzione/NYCDOE method requires as much effort as the preparation of microwave popcorn: unwrap the bag, place it in the machine, enter the desired pre-programmed coordinates, and heat. Disclaimer: eating and enjoying is not required. The education our children are receiving in such schools as the High School of Economics and Finance is substandard. Trust me. I did my time on Trinity Place. Those teachers who really show endeavor are often ridiculed. They are often disciplined or worse. It is no coincidence that so many of the school's veterans have moved on, or been forced out. The school's staff consists of little more than sycophants, lunatics, or those barely hanging on to the edge. Yes, Mr. Stanzione, the 'internet has changed the way we communicate with one another,' and it behooves us to keep up with those changes, while still respecting the fundamental principles upon which this nation was founded. I know school principals often fashion themselves as the ultimate moral compass upon which a school and its body must run, but (and it's a big "but") there are more important PRINCIPLES that function in our lives. Freedom of Speech is one such principle.