October 17 2012
Rubber Room with a View
Vicki E. Alger
What happens to whistle-blower teachers? Just ask Staten Island teacher Francesco Portelos—or see for yourself. As Education News reported:
According to Portelos, he was pulled from his post after he accused Dreyfus principal Linda Hill of financial misconduct. No charges have been levied against Hill. In a statement, a DOE spokesperson said Portelos was removed from the classroom because he “has been extremely difficult to work with, was transferred twice, and there are multiple investigations pending against him.”
The DOE’s so-called “rubber rooms” — where teachers under investigation were sent to do nothing all day while still collecting their salaries — were supposedly done away with in 2010. Instead, teachers were to be assigned administrative duties.
Some teachers, however, have said that they are not actually being assigned duties while their hearings are pending — a claim that appears bolstered by Portelos’s live video feed uploaded Thursday. …
“It’s just crazy, I never thought this would happen especially in the New York City Department of Education,” Portelos told CBS Radio station 1010 WINS. “A $24 billion budget and I’m being paid $75,000 to sit here. It’s ridiculous.
“I’m not here because I’m a bad teacher, I’m not here because I did anything to anyone physically, I’m here because they were trying to shut me up and it backfired big time,” he continued.
Teachers accused of serious crimes and gross misconduct often cannot be fired for years—if at all—because of voluminous union contract rules. Education News explained:
On WOR Radio’s John Gambling Show in April, Bloomberg quipped of the arbitrators’ rulings, “maybe if you were a serial ax murderer, you might get a slap on the wrist.”
But being “difficult to work with” is a new reason to land in a rubber room.