Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rikers Island School Principal Removed For Reassignment

East Elmhurst, New York: Dec. 20: Amidst “allegations” Rikers Island principal Frank Dody has been removed from his position as leader of the school for incarcerated adolescents on Rikers Island last Friday evening. The school serves over 1,000 incarcerated males and females waiting trial in the Courts of New York City as well as probation and parole violators between the ages of 16 and 21.

Mr. Dody’s tenure at Rikers was marred by allegations by teachers and other staff of union-busting, supporting discriminatory practices by site supervisors and utilizing the Corrections Department to remove popular teachers.

While Mr. Dody could not be reached for comment he did write to his staff this morning. He wrote, “I received a call at 4 yesterday and I am being reassigned (not sure where) due to allegations. I expect somone [sic] will be placed in my position immediately to continue to provide leadership in the school.”

Former teacher and UFT union leader at Rikers, Jeff Kaufman stated, “It is time for reflection for the staff at Rikers. Mr. Dody will now share in the experience of uncertainty and humiliation that his teachers have experienced when he had them removed from the school. I can only hope that the climate of divisiveness and mistreatment of staff is finally over.”

The school had been criticized by the New York City Council Education Committee for not providing transferable high school credits and providing GED instruction for only a small percentage of the students. For some time testing for the GED was suspended in the school due to allegations of testing improprieties.


Anonymous said...

Justice wins out in the end. That's good news for someone who was anti Union.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say that it's good news that someone who was anti-union has been removed.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeff,

Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold. You win. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

Final Score: Jeff 1 Dody 0!

The good guys actually won.

Rachel Grynberg said...

The chickens DO come home to roost sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Do you think this will be on the cover of the NY Teacher? No, I guess not.

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this piece? Is this cut and pasted from a newspaper or magazine? It reads that way and I'd like to read more of it.

Seriously, when my girlfriend's second son was locked up in Rikers a few years back, he liked that Kaufman guy as a teacher a lot. No one liked that Principal, they used to call him "Mr. Doodie".

Ty Johnson; BBA, MS, MPIA, J.D., D.P.M., master of the Vulcan neck pinch, Jackson 5 backup singer, and personally recognized as a good samaritan by Judge Judy in 1998.

Anonymous said...

Was Dody the guy who railroaded Jeff to the rubber room in the fall of 2005 right in the middle of the contract battle? That publicity and the fact that Jeff was on the Exec Bd and opposed to the contract even if it had no connection to his being sent there made the rubber room a story.

Jeff began to bring the people he met there to UFT Exec Bd meetings and they began to have a voice.

He and ICE were instrumental in making the rubber rooms an issue. Congratulations on this sweet vindication.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying that Kaufman guy singlehandedly solved the rubber room problem? It was a very important issue that wasn't addressed until him. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

I also wonder if he's related to that guy that played Latka Gravas on "Taxi". Not only was that show entertaining, but it brought attention to the day to day issues facing taxi driver trade unionists, and further, it helped launch the careers of Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, and Christopher Lloyd.

Kudos Mr. Kaufman!

Ty Johnson; BBA, MS, MPIA, J.D., D.P.M., uncredited producer of "Maude", Bob Ross understudy, and personally recognized as a good samaritan by Judge Judy in 1998.

Anonymous said...

Great work Jeff and your chapter. Still nothing from the UFT on this? Why aren't they calling and doing a piece?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think the UFT should help Mr. Dody and appoint a NYSUT lawyer to defend him.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeff get a life already! Who cares what you think? Maybe therapy is an option you might want to consider to work out your personal issues with Frank Dody. As for your puppet Donald Murphy he doesn't have a clue on how to be an effective union representative without playing the race card. PUT HIS NON TEACHING a$$ back in the classroom and see him break lol.....

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dody is now commenting on the ICE blog. What a wonderful world.

Anonymous said...


At one time Jeff was a respected union leader at AHMIA then something horrible happened, he became drunk with power. Jeff wanted to be the principal, but guess what, that position was already filled! and when he couldn't get his way, he second guessed every decision his administrators made,in an attempt to turn things in his favor and turn the staff against all of the Assistant Principals, especially Frank. Jeff was at war with Administration over power and not for the good of the teachers but for the benefit of himself. It became apparent that Jeff's war was purely personal when all of the Paraprofessionals were laid off and Frank moved heaven and hell to rehire them. Jeff, 'Our" union leader fought to have the Paraprofessionals removed, citing that their rehiring wasn't fair. his words were "Other people should have a shot at their jobs". Jeff again began to wage his own personal war even at the expense of the hard working people he had been elected by to protect. Someone on the blog stated that revenge is a dish served best cold, well Jeff has had plates of it and he's so full of vengeance that he has become blinded by it. I was a teacher at AHMIA and I know where all the bones are buried and who did the digging and believe me Jeff's hands are far from clean and by no means is he, or ever was a victim. Jeff's sense of fair play? well let me dig up two sets of bones for you;

1) In Jeff's absence he ran for chapter chair re-election. Unwilling to give up his seat he and Donald Murphy intentionally mislead the staff into believing that "Jeff would be back any day". all the while both Donald Murphy and Jeff Kaufman were fully aware that Kaufman was not, and could not return to the island because he violated a Dept. of Corrections mandate stating that civilian staff can not fraternize with inmates this is called "Undue familiarity". Every September DOC holds a security meeting and this among other things are outlined and explained to civilian employees. he appointed his friend and cohort Donald Murphy to "unofficially" be chapter chair in his place. It wasn't until the next year that Mr. Murphy won the election after running under the guise of Jeff Kaufman. (Doesn't this have the feel of a Bush election LOL)

2) The student who jeff was removed over had received Jeff's address and other personal information and was convicted of a serious infraction while being incarcerated and was placed in solitary confinement for a hundred or more days. This is the innocent kid that knew where Jeff lived. Can anyone imagine why corrections wouldn't want an inmate to have your address?
Even after he was personally advised against putting his family at risk, Jeff neglected to heed the warnings and continued to violate DOC regulations.It wasn't until Jeff realized that he had gotten too involved with this inmate that he chose to tell Mr. Dody about "The Situation" who then went through the proper channels of informing DOC and then DOC officially removed him from the island. The rules are the same for everyone and Jeff was treated like any other staff member would have been treated for the same violation.
With all of that said, it would behoove me not to mention the underhanded tactics of Donald Murphy; as i said before at one point Jeff was a trusted union official, that is before he allowed his quest for vengeance to cloud his judgment. But even on Jeff's most warped day, which would have included refusing to participate in any school activities with the exception of the stock market game one year. Murphy couldn't wear Jeff's left shoe when it came to the confidentiality of a union members grievance or other personal information. Many union members were afraid to grieve or ask for guidance with a situation for fear that he would divulge their personal business.In one instance Mr. Murphy's response to a paraprofessional in danger of losing her job was " Well that's what she gets, I mean, you know, she doesn't want help, so I'm not going over there!" I have to tell you that I could not believe my ears! There was also a time when Murphy accused the principal of practicing exclusionary tactics when it was he himself who was guilty of that accusation. There were a group of Union reps for each site that were hand picked by him and the staff had no choice in who would represent each building. Many teachers were upset by this, some contacted the union only to be told that there was nothing that could be done about the unfair practice. My 4th year at AHMIA was spent listening to Murphy rant and rave about the principal (Mr. Dody) giving cushy jobs to white people, if i am not mistaken Mr. Murphy is Afro American, and had the cushiest job of them all;he produced a school magazine, and had a very small pull out class of about 5 to 7 students, never had a lesson plan and always had the lights off during supposed instruction. The man was so out of control that in the middle of a staff meeting Mr. Murphy brazenly called the principal a racist. I was utterly shocked and disgusted by his unfair use of the race card and his unprofessional behavior. I must admit that i don't know what AHMIA is like now but this is ju st some of what i experienced as a teacher at that facility.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to respond to anonymous above because much of what anonymous says is just factually incorrect. Of course he or she if free to draw their own conclusions about my motives but it is important to be clear about what happened on Rikers.

It is clear from anonymous's writing that he or she has not been a teacher on Rikers for long. Believe or not I enjoy teaching and have no interest in leaving the classroom. What is perceived as a threat to ultimate principal power and control is just a teacher trying to empower students who face decisions that most of us never dream of facing. When an administration perceives that they are really providing these students with education he would not remove physical education from most of the school (our students were locked in their cells for a good part of the non-school day and could do recreation in the "yard" where only the gang leaders could walk safely. If he cared about our students he wouldn't remove most of the vocational programs that we once offered. He would not lead by allowing his subordinates to run their sites in any hostile manner they chose leading the DOE's own EEO to find that an AP wasn't really racist "but could be perceived by his staff as being racist" after almost 20 DOE and DOC staff complained.
If the principal was truly interested in providing education to incarcerated students he would work toward making the transition to home schools possible by providing transferable credits instead of devoting all of his resources toward the GED which only a small fraction of the students could qualify.

The paraprofessional example cited by anonymous is a case in point. After the para layoff when we lost 26 paras at the end of the 2002 school year the Union did nothing to guide them toward unemployment. In the fall it became apparent the school could not function without the paras. (As a side note only a couple of paras actually worked in classrooms. None were assigned to Special Ed students and most did office work). I received a call from our sister school on Rikers Island, Horizon Acadmeny's Chapter Leader who told me of a "secret" plan to rehire the paras even though they had been layed off. I said I had real misgivings about it since it violated the contract. At that point the principal from Horizon (who was listening in to the conversation on an extension, unknown to me)began yelling at me. I quickly hung up and I don't think I spoke to that Chapter Leader again.

I found myself in a real ethical quandary; Should I permit a clear violation of the contract to go forward to favor colleagues I knew over paras who had the right to be rehired who I did not know. I chose to follow the contract and notified the union that this violation was being planned. After a few days all of the paras that were layed off were rehired so the issue actually became moot but it was a difficult decision which I support to this day. If we "allow" contract violations for our friends in favor of other union members how can we complain when it is done to us. That was and still is my rationale.

As for the address issue and "undue familiarity" it appears that our anonymous friend did not go through any of the issues that a large number of struggled with every day....are we teachers or are we surrogate correction officers. The prohibition against undue familiarty was purposely left vague until Sept 2005 when, for the first time at a securtiy meeting it was disclosed that we needed the principal's permission to communicate with former students. Still, without clarity, the first letter I received from a former student I informed the principal. When he demanded that he see it I refused and stated that if he insisted I would consider it an illegal search. He had no basis to believe that the letter contained anything improper. In fact, after I was forced to show the letter I was vindicated and verily believed I would return to Rikers. There were a handful of pro-administration, anti-teacher, members of my chapter who reveled in my removal. The administration even had some of them run against me in my absence. The Chapter held strong and not only re-elected me by a substantial margin began to question a lot of what the administration was doing.

Obviously this questioning paid off. While I don't see Dody's removal as a panacea I do see it as potentially positive for education on Rikers Island.

Anonymous, as always, you are free to email me if you feel I have not responded properly to any of your points.

BTW I don't have an administrator's license and wouldn't dream of getting one.

Anonymous said...

"Good Ole Saint Jeff"

Jeff how does it feel for everyone to hear the truth about how divisive you really are? and yes I absolutley agree that it is extrememly difficult to defend yourself against an anonymous scathing letter such as the one i recently penned but it is all true and no matter how you try to manipulate the facts they will still remain facts. Now you know how it feels to be attacked by a faceless enemy the same way you and Donald Murphy have continuously attacked the excellent teachers at AMHIA by writing numerous anonymous letters full of false accusations marring the reputations of the teachers at AHMIA. All of this over a personal vendetta, it is pathetic, and so are you. Mr. Kaufman you may fool others but i have personally witnessed your handy work. I watched you manipulate, accuse and malign staff as well as administration for more than 5 years, i think that that was long enough to see and hear all of the facts as i have laid them out and then some.
How long did you think you would get away with playing the martyr? i mean really, you had to know that there was someone out there who would expose you. You have an authority figure issue, you have to be the boss. Just ask Randi winegarten (although by no means is she a Sandra Feldman)While you were the chapter leader for AHMIA, you attended delegate meetings solely to harass Randi. I know this because you would come into the teachers lounge and brag about it and laugh, you said and i quote " Well you know i enjoy busting her chops, i mean what else am i going to do, besides eat the free food" and then you told another staff member "come to the meeting you don't have to participate, there's free food" At this point another staff member said "hey Jeff you better watch what you say there are new teachers in the room" your response; was "so what? soon I'll have Randi's position"
People this is the kind of man who is playing victim,this is the real Jeff Kaufman. have no reason to lie or anything to gain from this. It is true that I no longer work at Island Academy but while teaching there i witnessed a lot of underhanded stuff and good ole Saint Jeff was in the thick of it. Jeff if you can say that anything that i said was false, do your lawyer thing and say so but in good conscience you cannot refute that these are your words and actions verbatim.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1 Jeff O

Anonymous said...

Ah, Anonymous! The anonymous faces in a crowd; the anonymous grey clouds; the anonymous letter--all lacking individually, distinction, recognition--and often credibility. Ah, so cryptic! So secret, so Rikers! Are the words "penned" by a snitch, a mental patient, a green-eyed monster? WHO KNOWS???

Thus,I only give such ANON musings credence when applied (out of necessity) to those lost poems of anonymous poets who sought to elevate the human spirit by making us get in touch with our humanity, and, alas, having no iambic pentameter to share... I will remain: Anon.