Sunday, April 26, 2009


Every teacher in New York City has felt at least some of the pain that Francisco Garabitos exhibited last Friday when he allegedly barred himself in at MS 328 in Marble Hill and tried desperately to contact Randi Weingarten while rumors about a bomb and endangered children caused the police to evacuate the building. As the shocking nature of Garabitos actions settle down we now start to learn about some of the background to this incident. According to published reports Garabitos, the school’s Chapter Leader, was embroiled in a major battle with the school’s principal who appeared to disregard his Chapter’s concerns.

What has become more common since principals have been given more authority has led to increased teacher turnover, 60% in Garabitos’ school in the last two years, and the Union doing nothing about it, leaving Garabitos and his Chapter to write a twenty teacher signed letter to the DOE to get some relief.

Why did Garabitos place a call with Weingarten? Did he recognize that contractually and practically the Union has left us out to dry and Weingarten’s access to the news media might be the only way to get the message across?

We don’t know what will happen with Garabitos other than he will probably stay in the rubber room for months and have no proper investigation done about any of the allegations that may be brought against him. Perhaps he knew that the removal will leave the Chapter in further disarray and send a message to all of the teachers left that they had better do as the principal orders…or else.

Judging by past experience it is clear that no matter how desperate the call there are very few at Tweed or 52 Broadway who will follow-up.

We feel your pain.


Anonymous said...

I applaud and second Jeff's comments.

There but for the grace of god....

Anonymous said...

What a desparate attempt to blame the UFT.

Just when we thought ICE was growing up...

Anonymous said...

To #2 Anonymous

Learn how to spell "desperate"

Anonymous said...


C omplain

E verytime

Anonymous said...

T hey

J ust

C omplain

Mr. Talk said...

I find two things scary:

Unity hack anon 11:06 thinks Every time is one word.

Unity hacks have the time to hang out on blogs while the rest of us have to work for a living teaching kids.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Talk is absolutely right. Unity hacks get to post at 11:06 in the morning. Teachers are teaching at that time.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thanks for posting this. It's important to know that that the teachers had been fighting an abusive principal in the school for some time, and the UFT knew about it. Whatever this Chapter Leader did, however he was pushed, it's clear he's no "terrorist" and the alleged so-called "bomb threat" seems to have simply evaporated, after the hysteria was whipped up all over the city and the character assassination in the media has been accomplished. I thought, by the way, that the parent coordinator made a pretty good statement about the whole thing being blown out of proportion.

Anonymous said...

I lay the blame at Randi's feet. How many stories are out there of abusive principals? The principal at the school I worked at last year was a mess. She was allowed to intimidate and bully teachers. When our chapter leader told the district rep, he told us we should find new jobs. Not that the principal should stop intimidating and bullying teachers. Luckily I was able to find a new job (not thru the open market where I sent out 100 resumes and didn't get one call) but thru a personal contact.

It's a jungle out there and it's open season on teachers. Our darling union leader and her coeterie have allowed it to happen. Will we ever get rid of her?

Anonymous said...

In most school districts when 60 per cent of the teachers leave a school in 2 years and 20 more sign a letter it raises a red flag. In Tweedledom it is cause for officials to cheer the principal. The uft of course just leaves people twisting in the air.

While the reported history of the teacher (if true or not I'm just curious how personnel info gets released to the press and by whom and isn't that a problem for future action against a teacher in terms of a fair hearing and shouldn't the responsible party be identified?) Could be a factor, Bloomklein have allowed explosive conditions to develop in numerous schools.

Frustrations will continue to mount as reports come in over the anger of so many people. Can this be a good thing for children to allow principals to run rampant?


Anonymous said...

It’s hard to decipher which actions the union tried to distance itself from but it is clear they didn’t help this chapter leader too much. We shouldn’t be surprised

Anonymous said...

A house divided cannot stand!!

Why would a Chapter Leader go to this extreme to call attention to this matter?

Why do we (the UFT)have to wait for an incident as such to take immediate action??

Can we rely on "our" beloved District Reps?? When we complain, file grievances, gather the "data" and scream for help they wait- some negotiate "our" assinations and prepare principals with "how to go after teachers"! Can you imagine? How can we possibly fight on two fronts (our union reps and the DOE)?

How about those (reps)who ignore the gravity of the situation? How do you explain your efforts when Garribitos' complaints were constant?

The problem: We have lost faith and trust in the Representatives who are required to serve its members.

Garribitos is not alone in his frustrations.


Thankyou for your ongoing efforts

Jeff..."the blue wall of courage goes a long way" thx bud!

Anonymous said...

Gotta love ICE and what they knock the UFT for.

Bottom line, what Garabitos did was stupid. He did not exercise good professional judgement.

How this is blog is blaming this on the UFT is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

It's not exactly blaming the UFT leadership to say that they should be there when we call.

Anonymous said...

But it is exactly asinine to blame them for the Bronx teacher's actions on Friday.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the UFT is not directly to blame.

However, they did not step up in such a manner to support those teachers adequately. That prinicipal has been getting away with this crap for months. I work in that building and know some of those teachers. And let's not forget that the principal has a union to protect him. HIS rep was on the scene almost immediately.

Anonymous said...

The UFT does very little to protect us and that's why we are in the situation we are in.

ed notes online said...

"How this is blog is blaming this on the UFT is beyond me."

Principals are out of control and the union has NO responsibility?
You've got to be kidding.

Maybe you weren't a Unity slug, but Ed Notes presented a resolution at a DA 10 years ago calling for measures to protect chapter leaders and all the Unity slugs voted it down overwhelmingly after Tom Pappas spoke against it, saying they had enough protections.


We called for the union to take action especially in cases like this principal. If you were there, how did you vote?

So yes the union is as much to blame for ignoring these situations. Too many chapter leaders - and they contact us all the time - are so stressed at not only the principal but at union inaction, they have to be talked off the ledge. The union is an equal collaborator,just as they want to be, with the DOE. (And there are way too many cases of open interference in upcoming chapter elections with their own hand-picked candidates - all too many Unity by the way - undermining non-Unity CL's.)

I'll tell you what, I'll send you a copy and let's see if you have the guts to present it at a DA.

Anonymous said...

Nice job Norm. Mr. Ed Notes strikes again. Take that Unity.

NY_I said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NY_I said...

Let the posters have some balance. Indeed, Garabitos indeed acted most unprofessionally. There is nothing proper in frightening students or staff. ICE is taking a view beyond the headlines. 1) It is recognizing that the school was abusing teachers, and 2) it is pointing out that the UFT is doing an inadequate job of addressing abuse of power.
As one poster noted, when 60 percent of staff leave in two years and 20 staff sign a letter, that is a sign that all is far from well at the school. To anonymous that writes with the silly words created out of ICE and TJC, I cannot believe that you teach in a NYC school. You have no empathy for people that are raising serious issues that impact on people's careers and well-being.
As the NY Teacher article on Iris Blige (another Bronx principal) shows, these PINI principals not only abuse teachers, but such principals often abuse of fail to properly serve students. On college night Blige threatened seniors with with withholding their diplomas if they attended a march protester her actions at the school. The City has protocols for addressing unprofessional teachers. What protocols does it have for unprofessional administrators who abuse their power? (NY Teacher is to be applauded for beginning to address these principals. When enough of these stories come to light, the public will realize that these principals are not isolated bad apples, but that they are part of a broader pattern. The series on Principals In Need of Improvement is an "occasional series"; let's hope that it is more than occasional, so that the truth can be revealed.) Read key excerpts of the Blige story and analysis at

proofoflife said...

AS a CL that is under constant attack I can tell you that my complaints went unheard for many months. One teacher was assigned to say I harrassed her and was taken to a hospital with "anxiety". My principal was quick to send me to the RR without any due process! This same teacher, also said I sliced her car tires. She gets paid per-session and she isn't even in the building! When this teacher was allowed to bring her husband in to follow me around the school, I called my DR. Life as a chapter leader who tries to follow the contract is intolerable. Intimidation is a daily rountine.I can relate to whatGarribitos did. We are not robots. We are teachers who are at the mercy of power hungry principals who don't take kindly to having to follow contractual articles, and to CL who ask questions. When pricipals get the lowest of the low ratings on school environment from the staff and nothing is done to them then what the hell is the point of filling in the survey? Once you have a rep. as a hard nose CL and are over the age of 20 you can kiss any chance of finding another school good-bye. And so here I stand stuck on stupid .

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you do Proof of Life. Hope you are reelected this spring.