Monday, December 12, 2011

Congratulations to Peter Lamphere

A judge has overturned Peter Lamphere's 2009 Unsatisfactory rating.  Peter was chapter leader at Bronx High School of Science.  This is positive news for sure.  We salute the people at Bronx Science who have been standing up for their rights in the face of great adversity.

The story was covered by Gotham.


Date:  Monday, December 12, 2011  
Contact:  Peter Lamphere,

Judge Overturns Arbitrary Unsatisfactory Rating for Bronx Science Teacher

In an oral bench decision Wednesday, December 7th, New York State Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman granted the petition to overturn a 2009 Unsatisfactory rating for Peter Lamphere, former math teacher and UFT chapter leader at the Bronx High School of Science.  The decision is a small step in restoring some of the damage done to the careers of numerous teachers at the prestigious Bronx school, where a deteriorating relationship between Principal Valerie Reidy and faculty has dramatically increased staff turnover accompanied by a decline in the school's national ranking (New York Magazine, December 12, 2011, New York Times, September 15, 2011, Daily News, March 29, 2011, attached).   

The decision rejects the Department of Education's attempt to ignore scrutiny of Principal Reidy's administrative actions. The DOE disregarded a fact finding ruling by an independent arbitrator last April upholding claims of harassment by 20 math teachers at the school, including Lamphere (New York Times, April 28, 2010). Even after Valerie Reidy abandoned the 2009 Unsatisfactory rating by refusing to contest Lamphere's administrative appeal, the DOE arbitrarily upheld the rating. 

"This is an alert to the Department of Education that they need to examine more closely what's happening at Bronx Science," was Lamphere's first response to the news.  "It's outrageous that they have chosen to look the other way while the school adminstration at Bronx Science has undermined the learning environment at what should be one of the crown jewels of the city's educational system."

Lynne Winderbaum, former UFT High School District Representative, commented: "It is a shame that teachers have to use the court system to get fairness. But justice will be done whenever the abusive tactics of principals such as Valerie Reidy are exposed to an unbiased hearing.

Mark Kagan, who voluntary transferred from Bronx Science as part of the exodus of 40% of the Social Studies faculty this year, added, "It was understood at Bronx Science that Valerie Reidy used U-ratings and denials of tenure for non-pedagogical reasons. I'm glad to see that the court saw this clearly. But it's too bad for the students that Peter and other good teachers were forced out of Bronx Science."

Former Bronx Science teacher Mark Sadok said, "I am delighted to hear the news, as it not only vindicates Lamphere, but also paves the way for a return to teaching for those of us whose dismissals were based on observations that violated the UFT-DOE contract." 
Megan Behrent, of the activist group Teachers' Unite, pointed out how this case "exposes the way teacher evaluations are used for political rather than professional reasons and how the 'the bad teacher' narrative provides cover for retaliation against activists. It also shows why tenure is so important. Without tenure, this victory would never have happened as Lamphere would have been dismissed without any due process at all."

Brian Jones, activist with the Grassroots Education Movement, stated that "Peter Lamphere is a dedicated and highly intelligent educator; and yes, he's also a union activist. Unfortunately the national campaign to scapegoat and punish teachers has meant that the former fact mattered less than the latter. I'm glad to see that Peter received some small measure of justice. Let's hope that this reversal reverberates through the halls of power and gives our highest officials reason for pause.

Jonathan Halabi, chapter leader of neighboring High School for American Studies, commented that "This unjustified U-rating should have been overturned much earlier.  Today's decision shows that the DOE's current internal hearings and appeals are unfair and rigged against the employee. New Action/UFT remains deeply concerned by the problem of abusive administrators.  A victory, especially by a chapter leader who had been targeted for abuse, is a victory for all of us. "

Another arbitrary U-rating for Lamphere, from 2008, remains the subject of another case before Judge Paul Wooten, with a decision expected soon. But, regardless of the outcome of this individual case, the recommendations of the independent arbitrator's 2010 fact-finding report will still not have been implemented, and the struggle to replace the current administration at Bronx Science with one that can work together with Bronx Science teachers to rebuild a positive environment and a commitment to educational excellence has a long way to go.

Additional Contacts: 
Mark Sadok -
Lynne Winderbaum –
Megan Behrent -


Anonymous said...

Watch the do nothing UFT try to take credit for this in the next newspaper edition. The UFT can't even get us a raise let alone prevent innocent people from being harassed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, James.

Congratulations Peter!

Here's a link to a related piece that appeared in our local:,49486?page=1&content_source=