Friday, February 03, 2006

But They Told Me That I Could Remove this 1962 Letter From My File!

Contract implementation woes continue as the DOE demonstrates that what appears teacher friendly in the contract is, in essence, an illusion. Remember when our trusted UFT Leaders told us how we “won” the right to have derogatory material removed from our personnel files that was over three years old?

Great win, right?


As appears in the following memo to principals by the DOE’s Labor Relations office these letters will not be destroyed but will be sent to another office. Isn’t it wonderful how great this new contract is at protecting our rights? Thanks, Randi.

Here is the text of the memo:

UFT Contract Implementation: Guidance on Material in File

As you are probably aware, the new collective bargaining agreement with the UFT has eliminated material in file grievances and gives educators represented by UFT the right to remove material in file after three years if they do not lead to further discipline. This provision takes effect immediately. If you receive a grievance challenging any material in file, e.g. an unsatisfactory observation or a disciplinary letter for attendance problems or misconduct, you should respond to the chapter leader that you will not hear the grievance, but the staff member may append a written response to the letter before it is placed in the personnel file. With a few exceptions, only material in file arbitrations scheduled for January will go forward and any material in file grievance currently at steps 1, 2 or 3 will be discontinued.

As a part of the agreement, any letter placed in a teacher’s or other UFT represented employee’s personnel file: 1) which is 3 years old or older and; 2) has not been used in a disciplinary proceeding (3020-a charges, discontinuances or U-ratings), shall be removed from the employee’s file. Three years is measured from the date the letter was placed in the employee’s file (which should be the date the employee signed the letter or administration indicated “refuse to sign”). Note, the rule regarding removing letters from the file after three years does not apply to non-UFT titles, such as school aides or family workers.

Teachers or other UFT represented employees who wish to have a letter removed from their file pursuant to the new agreement should follow the current procedures for viewing their personnel file by making an appointment with the principal or his/her designee when the principal or designee is available. The employee will be permitted to view his/her personnel file in the presence of the principal or designee. Employees may identify any letter that has been in their file for 3 years or longer (e.g. by marking it with a Post-it). The supervisor should remove the letter from the file if he or she knows that the letter has not resulted in further disciplinary action, such as 3020a charges, a discontinuance, an unsatisfactory rating, or a suspension and confirms that it is 3 years old or more. Copies should be made of all the documents to be removed and the employee should be given the originals. The records will be kept in a central repository and maintained under the control of the New York City Law Department (see instructions on shipping the letters to the repository below). They will be used solely in defense of the Department of Education or the City of New York in litigation or administrative actions and as otherwise required by law, and DOE supervisors will not have access to them. The records will be destroyed 6 years after an individual retires, resigns or terminates. If the records are accessed, the UFT will receive notice.

If the supervisor does not know whether the letter resulted in further disciplinary action (e.g. if a principal is new to the school), s/he should inquire of his/her regional counsel so this can be investigated.

Although material in file grievances have ended, principals should, as good management practice, continue to follow the guidelines in the Office of Labor Relations “Labor FAQs” for letter writing. For example, you should meet with the employee prior to writing a disciplinary letter or lesson observation to discuss the issues prior to coming to a conclusion. Please see this section of Labor FAQs on letter writing by clicking here.

For general inquiries contact Dan McCray ( or David Brodsky ( with the Office of Labor Relations.

Instructions on Shipment of Documents

Copies of the file letters should be placed in manila folders with the employee’s last name, first name, social security and file number, district number and school name and number. If there are more than 50 folders at a site, they should be placed in a box, which you can order by e-mailing Angie Russo at Each box should have an official archive label on it listing the contents by teacher file number. You can obtain the labels from the DFO Web Site at The regular vendor for inter-office mail, Deluxe Delivery Services, will pick up all boxes and file packages for delivery to the central repository.


Joe Mudgett said...

Thanks for posting this memo, Jeff. Didn't Randi read the fine print before she sent out her minions to sell us on this contract? On her salary I'm certain she can afford a good pair of glasses. Or is she just a rube who keeps getting snookered by the DOE? In either event, her credibility falls even further than it had once we all came to realize that the terms of 6R assignments were much worse than we'd been assured.

So what this essentially means is that teachers will have to wait until six years AFTER they retire, resign, or get terminated to truly get negative letters removed from their personnel files...maybe...

Yeah, thanks Randi.

Anonymous said...

When my DR told us about this 6 year hold, she made it sound like it was something that was already in effect.

Is that true or was this a result of the new contract?

jameseterno said...

Below is an excerpt from the State Education law. When we could grieve, the records were only kept for three years following the decision, not six years following our termination of employment. Thanks again UFT for giving away our right to grieve material in our personnel files.

♦1.[199] Personnel records of local government employees (includes volunteers and interns)

a. Master summary record from personnel case file, including but not limited to personal information, dates of employment, job titles, and civil service status:


b. Personnel case file materials, except summary information record, and including but not limited to application for employment, resume, report of personnel change, evaluation, certification, civil service examination results, notice of resignation or termination, and correspondence:

RETENTION: 6 years after termination of employment

NOTE: Reports of personnel changes may be included in personnel case files, in which case they are subject to the indicated minimum retention period. Other copies of these reports are maintained by other offices and are covered by item no. 223, below.

NOTE: Employers may wish to retain records for lengthier periods (i.e., the duration of preferred eligible lists) when employees are placed on preferred eligible lists at the time of termination. These lists have a duration of seven years under Sections 2510 and 3013 of Education Law. For New York City, preferred eligible lists are established under Section 2588 of Education Law without specified durations.

2.[200] Investigative records and disciplinary proceedings, including but not limited to statement of charge, transcript of hearing, notice of decision, letter of termination or resignation, letter of reinstatement, record of appeal procedure, and correspondence:

RETENTION: 3 years after final decision rendered

NOTE: Records covered by this item may be destroyed before this retention period has been reached, if specified either in a union contract or settlement between the employer and employee.

♦14.[212] Public employee grievance records, including but not limited to grievance, investigative records, hearing proceedings, decision rendered by employer, employee appeal, records of arbitration procedure, final decision, and correspondence:

RETENTION: 3 years after grievance is resolved

jmeade said...

Incredible!! Yet another example of our own union's leadership with-holding information from us. How many more examples of this chicanery does the membership need until they are tired of this? The lies and propaganda used by the Unity machine to ram this contract down our throats are intolerable. The Unified Teachers Party would like to thank the people at ICE for continuing to be a great source of information and exposing Unity for what it is - a self perpetuating political machine hell bent on protecting their interests at the expense of rank and file members.

Anonymous said...

This is all new to me.

If a letter is grieved and won, it was still retained for three years??? Did most principals keep them or destroy them?

When was the rule changed to 6 years?

Did Unity and ICE know of this provision, and if so, why didn't you make us aware of it before?

What if I am teaching only 10 years and plan to retire at age 62-and I get a letter this year...that letter will remain until I am 68 (6 years after my retirement) or age 72 if you add the three years in was in my file to begin with?????

Basically, I can be dead and still have a LIF somewhere in the DOE?

Anonymous said...

Thanks James for the additional information. My eyes open wider every day.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Frizzle's post on the Union has sparked some interesting--as well as some disgusting comments from union loyalist like Leo Casey.

From his comments I can understand why this is a union in crisis.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the DOE does not keep our letters after 3 years and therefore cannot be used against us in any dicipalnry action. The city hs to keep them in case they get sued but agin can't be used against us the DOE (or more specifically my principal) doesn't have it. It is not in the building or in my file.

Anonymous said...

You know you guys just complain and pat each other on the back but never do anything to unite the UFT.

Why don't you talk about things like this:


Harassed teacher wins lawsuit with back pay
by Jim Callaghan

Feb 2, 2006

“It shows that no one is above the law,
not even the chancellor. It’s also an
indication of how petty these people are and how little they care for the students.”
— Martin Orlian

A teacher who had been harassed at Brooklyn Technical HS and later fired from Grady Vocational HS won a stunning legal victory last month when a state Supreme Court judge awarded him a judgment that vacated the termination of his employment.

The judge, Doris Ling-Cohan, also said he is entitled to back pay from June 2003, seniority rights and full retroactive medical benefits.

Martin Orlian said he was “ecstatic” when he heard the news and said the judge’s decision vindicates him and other teachers who were subjected to harassment.

“It shows that no one is above the law, not even the chancellor,” Orlian said. “It’s also an indication of how petty these people are and how little they care for the students.”

Orlian pointed out that Judge Ling-Cohan even felt the need to write a footnote to her opinion that Orlian’s position “remained unfilled for the remainder of the 2003-2004 school year and the students of Grady failed to have a qualified teacher for their science classes.”

Orlian, who has a Ph.D. in biology, taught as preparatory provisional teacher (PPT) during the 2001-2002 school year at Brooklyn Tech under a temporary license. He received a satisfactory performance rating after his first year at Tech. He also passed the school-based option process unanimously.

During the following year, he obtained a New York State provisional license as a biology teacher and, according to Orlian, he became a certified provisional teacher (CPT). He was given a salary increase based on that.

But because he clashed with Principal Lee McCaskill’s new assistant principal for science, he was fired from the school.

Orlian claims that the new assistant principal was angry that the person he preferred for the job failed to pass the SBO process. After that, the assistant principal tried to excess Orlian, but couldn’t.

That was when that the harassment began, according to Orlian, and suddenly he was declared to be an unsatisfactory teacher.

After getting a job at Grady, Orlian ran into even more problems. The school paid him as a per diem, not the higher rate he was entitled to under his CPT license.

Despite a severe shortage of science teachers in the system, Orlian was ordered out of the Grady building on Oct. 30, 2003, after being told he would not be permitted to teach there unless he obtained an occasional per diem (OPD) license. However, the form he filled out to qualify for the OPD license was returned to him by DOE’s personnel department with a note saying “returning this person (sic) is state certified.”

The judge ruled that DOE violated Chancellor’s Regulation C-200 (11) (b) in stating that “although they admit that (Orlian) received state certification in February 2003, state certification is not equivalent of a DOE license or certification.” Ling-Cohan wrote that the regulation specifically stated otherwise.

In his papers, Orlian said that his firing, and the demand that he apply for an OPD license, was in retaliation for starting an Article 78 proceeding in state court. Indeed, the judge said that Orlian taught at Grady from September to Oct. 30 until “supposedly it was ‘learned’ that he didn’t possess the necessary license.”

He was also given a satisfactory observation by the Grady principal and the assistant principal. Orlian, in an interview with the New York Teacher, said he was told by a Grady administrator that the direction to fire him came directly from DOE’s Office of Legal Services after the lawsuit was filed in August 2003.

Anonymous said...

Yes I was glad to see the union dues helping out a fellow teacher.

However, if that teacher is also a member of ICE, you guys look the other way.

ICE/TJC Unite to Defeat Weingarten said...

If Weingarten was stupid enough to fail to see that the LIF cannot be removed, then she has shown what a crappy lawyer she is. If she did know and conned the membership, then she is no different than GW Bush, Nixon, et al, and should be removed from office.

Anonymous said...

It seems that no one is allowed to voice any concerns where Unity is concerned.

Now the mayor who was supposed to back our pension reform is now working against us (also in NY Teacher).

So this letter cannot be used against us--however we still were not told of this provision. Either way, we lost our right to grieve among other rights.

ICE aways held the position to not sign this agreement and instead stay with the old contract. Yes, the money is improved, but the rest of it stinks.(especially if you're on potty patrol!)

Jeff Kaufman said...

Why don't you ask Jim Callaghan why he didn't include info on how the Union "helped" Martin Orlian? It turns out Orlian had to pay for his own lawyer to get his job back. The Union didn't think he had a case. Make sure you go beyond the New York Teacher story before you accept their spin as accurate!

jmeade said...

Wow! I think Mr. Kaufman's post says it all! Inaction and spin are Unity's trademarks.

Anonymous said...

Yes I was glad to see the union dues helping out a fellow teacher.

However, if that teacher is also a member of ICE, you guys look the other way.

Is the above post fair? Unless I am wrong, the union is going aggressively to bat, on the record and behind the scenes, to help out the Rikers Island chapter leader who is certainly not Randi's acolyte, but was unjustly targeted because he is an effective whistleblower.

Get Real said...

If Randi missed the fine print then so did you.

State Education Law requires the holding of records for a limited purpose.

Although it seems the city may have misread whether LIF are to be held for 3 or 6 years, the difference has no real effect.

The letter is removed from your file. It is not passed on to other schools. It does not stay with your employment file.

Amazingly, the DOE is being true to the spirit of the law. Removed letters will be held in sealed envelopes in a separate, central location and unavailable for access except in cases where a teacher files suit against the city.

I know the conspiracy fanatics won't be convinced, but any sane individual that thinks principals will sneak downtown to look at "dead" files gives them more credit than they deserve.

Let's stop the histrionics over the changes and get to work protecting our teachers' rights on the school level.

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