Dena Gordon is a social studies teacher at East West School of International Studies in Flushing. She works for administrators (Principal Ben Sherman and Assistant Principal Mala Panday) who have abused the staff continually. The harassment and intimidation have been so severe that the last two UFT Chapter Leaders were compelled to leave the school and now they do not have a chapter leader. Can anyone blame people for not taking the Chapter Leader job under those circumstances? Dena was a UFT Delegate previously so Sherman has targeted her all year with illegal observations where she is denied mandated pre-observation conferences and letters for file over inconsequential issues that are ignored with other teachers.
Dena has filed multiple grievances that are clogged up in the interminable grievance process. Step I is the principal and Step II is the Chancellor. Basically, teachers have very little chance of having an objective hearing at both steps. The Union has a limited number of arbitration dates available where grievances would be heard by a neutral third party so grievances back up for years at times while administrative harassment continues. We need to expose what is happening and get help to teachers like Dena.
Dena decided she could not wait a second longer so she has hired her own lawyer and taken the principal to the state Public Employees Relations Board charging him with anti union bias. We believe she has a very strong case as clearly she is an activist who has been targeted by an administration that is more interested in controlling the Union than in educating kids. Union buster Ben Sherman truly deserves the designation: "Principal From Hell."
Gagan Diwan is a math teacher. He taught successfully at Humanities and the Arts High School in Queens until 2009 when suddenly administration turned on him.He asked administration for an accommodation to have classes on one floor and a key to the elevator as he has muscular dystrophy.
Administration ignored his requests and went on to terminate him several months later. UFT would only file a U rating appeal, which as we know is basically a kangaroo court where we almost always lose. However, Gagan would not accept the loss of his job so he hired his own lawyer and filed a complaint with the New York State Human Rights Commission. A few weeks ago they found there was probable cause that his rights were violated and now the case will go to a hearing. The NY Post covered this story.
The point of all of this is to tell our readers not to give up when confronted with a seemingly impossible situation. There are people out there who aren't going to take the employer abuse and are finding ways to help themselves either inside the union or if they are not satisfied, then outside.