Sunday, May 21, 2017


One of the more baffling aspects of dealing with the Department of Education is how sometimes rank and file members who try to fight back against abuse from administrators are put in no win situations.

A principal and/or assistant principal makes life miserable for a teacher by writing lousy observation reports, making up incidents or twisting them into knots to put letters in the teacher's file and then giving the teacher the worst possible classes to teach that the teacher did not request.

If the teacher grieves everything including the rotten program and files APPR complaints, then the DOE may tell them to cool it with so many complaints. The teacher is accused of being crazy because they fight everything and don't give the principal a chance.

On the other hand, if the teacher tries to work things out with the principal and does not grieve everything, the UFT will immediately ask the teacher why they did not grieve.

See the dilemma.

My advice for tenured teachers*, for what it is worth, is to try to have a conversation with administration to work out any issues but if that fails, then grieve, grieve and grieve some more if there are contractual violations.

File APPR complaints on any adverse observation. (Do not hesitate as we only have five school days from when an observation is issued to file an APPR complaint.)

Grieve programs that do not meet contractual guidelines. (Be really fast here as there is a two school day time limit to file.)

Don't wait for harassment to get out of control before fighting back.

Even if the initual grievances are lost at the school and Chancellor's level, do not be discouraged.  The powers that be expect teachers to give up. Be persistent and scream retaliation if there is pushback from administration because of filing grievances.

Don't worry about appearing grievance crazy. By fighting back, a teacher creates a record and a paper trail.

Final word: Save everything and be organized.

*There are ways for non-tenured teachers to fight back but it is not easy and often times requires a different approach.


Anonymous said...

When I deal with my administration and the DOE I am keenly aware that if you awake the sleeping dragon, you can't prick it, you can't run from it once you awaken it, you need to attack and attack until it surrenders or is slaughtered. You can't raise an issue and back off. The moment you back off they will file a 3020a hearing under false charges...but as long as you're attacking it makes it much harder for them to come after you.

I CC everyone, including the Chancellor on every email. I file every complaint I can with anyone who takes complaints like the EEOC, NYC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, Fed. DOE, state reps. and file court cases. Yes, they think I'm crazy, but I've been doing this for almost two decades and I'm still here. All the DOE lawyers, principals, chancellors, etc. are gone and I'm still here(Actually I may have been the one who got the short end of the stick). When a couple cases did go to court, the DOE always settled, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU CCed OR WROTE DIRECTLY TO THE TOP LEADERS!!!! Since you would be able to call them to testify, it's a big deal just to make you go away!

If they're after you, go after them, or you will lose!

James Eterno said...

It's really hard to argue with any of that. Just try not to hesitate because time limits are real.

Anonymous said...

Ralph McKee HS in Staten Island is this!
Abusive APO , AP of ELA and principal allows it all. Knows about it too!

James Eterno said...

Fight back collectively if possible.

James Eterno said...

Fight back collectively if possible.