Thursday, March 2, 2017

DOE/Legal Rushes to 3020a Kangaroo Court for Central Park East 1 Chapter Leader Starting Today: Parents to Rally Outside

I wrote about this on Sunday, A Political Attack: Superintendent Alexandra Estrella Orders Chapter Leader Removal from Central Park East I - Sign the Petition --
--- and if you didn't sign yet, hit the link and get your ass over there and sign it NOW.

Even a cynic such as I didn't assume a 3020a hearing could come so soon. But that is the way the slime at the DOE operate -- knowing that there could be massive support for a teacher, they are trying to rush this hearing through before such support could gather --- no so fast, as parent and teacher outrage grows. People talk about Trump and democracy when in our own "liberal" city we see this happen?

Marilyn Martinez, the chapter leader of Central Park East 1, where the staff and parents have been fighting the appointment of principal Monika Garg for the past year, was suddenly removed from her classroom on orders of the Superintendent just before the midwinter break about 3 weeks. DOE Legal is rushing her 3020a hearing starting today and tomorrow. From what I hear the hearing is not open -- not sure why -- since Marilyn has the right to an open hearing. I don't know if she is using a private or NYSUT lawyer. A private lawyer not familiar with DOE Legal ops can be a handicap. At least the NYSUT people know the terrain and also the hearing officer -- who is Dean Burrell. Sometimes the lawyers only want to fight on legal grounds -- these cases can be very affected by politics and public scrutiny.

Going after a top level teacher to try to fire them explodes the entire "bad teacher" rap -- see Peter Lamphere 2 U ratings by the current principal of Townsend Harris when she was Peter's AP.  Rally Against Townsend Harris Principal..].

CPE I Principal Monika Garg lied to parents - she assured the parents of Marilyn's class she would sign a letter of support for Marilyn but then refused.

The fact that parents are organizing on their own may be used by the DOE to charge Marilyn with doing the organizing -- I've seen that happen before -- they actually look into contact between teachers and parents even if the teacher is responding to parent concerns. This is an attempt to prevent teachers from gathering support. Teachers have the right to call a big list of witnesses.

If the hearing officer - Dean Burrell - terminates Marilyn, the UFT needs to make it clear he will never be accepted as a hearing officer again. The DOE did that in the past when hearing officers were sympathetic to the defense ---

Also this is an attack on a chapter leader -- the UFT must take a public stand on this, not merely work behind the scenes. If they don't the deBlasio endorsement needs to be questioned further. A reso to withdraw is not out of the question in my mind. If a union can't stand up to defend its leaders on the ground, what kind of union are they? [Don't tell us about the work you are doing behind the scenes - this demands a press conf with Mulgrew drawing a line in the sand.] DEMAND SUPT ALEXANDRA ESTRELLA BE REMOVED.

My guess is that this is a high pressure way to get Marilyn out of the school - get her to make a deal for a fine or something like that. But we know that no matter the outcome of the hearing, they never send people back anyway. Since Marilyn has had a lifetime investment in CPEI - her kid goes there, she spent her teaching career there, she may even have went there as a student -- she is in an extremely vulnerable position. We must make it clear that no matter the outcome - WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Here is the email from parents:

Your Presence Needed TODAY in Support of Marilyn

Dear CPE 1 Community and Friends,

Where/When: 9:30am tomorrow and Friday at 100 Gold Street in Manhattan

What: Marilyn's termination process hearing

Who: Everyone who possibly can, particularly current and former parents

As most people know, Marilyn Martinez was removed from her K/1 classroom right before February break due to a DOE investigation. While Monika has assured us that she is working to get Marilyn back in the school as soon as possible, we have just found out that the DOE has been proceeding with the termination process and that her termination hearing is scheduled to begin tomorrow. This may also explain why Monika refused to sign a letter in support of Marilyn this morning after having promised class parents that she would do so. We are sure that this is as much of a shock to everyone else as it to us; many of us are still struggling to figure out how to support our children in the wake of this disruption. However, it is now clear to us that the DOE is trying to permanently remove Marilyn from teaching and that she urgently needs our support.

Marilyn's hearing is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Thursday, March 2nd. Unfortunately, there are a lot of details we don't know, but here is what we know. This process is known as a 3020-a hearing and is how the DOE bring charges in order to terminate a tenured teacher. This process necessarily involves the Principal, the Superintendent and the Chancellor, and they will be represented by DOE lawyers. Marilyn has also been assigned representation by her union. There are a wide range of charges that can be brought against a teacher and a similarly wide range of judgments that can be awarded by the independent arbitrator who hears the case.

We do not know the exact charges against Marilyn. In addition, we have been informed that the DOE will usually creates as long a list of charges as possible in hopes that something will stick or that the teacher's character will be questioned. We do know that the charges do not involve harm to children in any way or her effectiveness as a teacher. They are related to "ethics" misconduct, which the DOE can define very broadly. We do know that Marilyn is a dedicated and inspired teacher who deserves our support. We know that her removal has had a detrimental impact on our children and school community. We are confident that there is nothing that Marilyn could be reasonably charged with that could justify her removal - and certainly not the loss of her job.

We also know that teachers are often pressured to resign or retire in order to avoid the stressful hearing process with its uncertain outcome. Only 4% of teachers are fully acquitted and returned to their classroom. However, it is also very difficult to fully terminate a teacher. It is much more likely that some kind of penalty, such as a fine or disciplinary letter, will be levied. Regardless, for an educator who has dedicated their entire adult life to serving children and their families, this is a traumatic and potentially career-destroying process.

We believe that the the presence and support of colleagues, parents, former students and others could play a very important role in supporting Marilyn. If 40 or 50 parents were to attend her hearing, it would be unprecedented and would speak very strongly to Marilyn's character and positive impact on our school community. We also believe we could give confidence to Marilyn so that she does not go through this process by herself. Unfortunately, from what we've been able to piece together, it seems like this will be a closed hearing so we will not be able to attend the hearing itself. But we still think it would be very powerful and important for us to be there tomorrow to show support for Marilyn and make it clear to the DOE that she is a beloved and valued teacher. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10am and so we would like to be there by 9:30 to greet Marilyn and others arriving and to show our support. Thursday will be the most important day as it is the first day, but if you can come both or only Friday, that is also needed.

Therefore, we are asking that everyone try to arrange to come down to the hearing and support Marilyn on Thursday and/or Friday. We understand that for many parents this means arranging time off work or childcare, but this is really important. It is important because it is an opportunity for us to give back to a teacher who has done so much for our children and school community. It is also important because it sends a message to all teachers in our school that parents will stand behind them. Other teachers must feel very vulnerable right now. If we want to keep our most experienced teachers in our school, then we have to stand up for them now. We all desperately want Marilyn back in her classroom, which would be the best possible outcome and should do everything we can to make this possible. But we also want Marilyn to be able to keep her career as an educator. Our support could make all the difference.

It is very important to understand that this is not a protest and our demeanor will reflect on Marilyn. We want to be respectful, neatly dressed, non-emotional and non-confrontational. This will be emotional for many of us as well, but our character will also reflect on Marilyn and she will need our strength and calm presence.

Thank you for all you have already done to support Marilyn. Please email us if you are able to attend. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us listed below and we will do our best to answer them based on what we know. This has been a difficult time for our school community, but we hope that we can all come together in this moment to support our teachers and one another and do what is best for our children.


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