Sunday, September 26, 2010

Do Teachers Have a “One Slap” Rule?

Termination reversals after 3020-a hearings are extremely rare, but given the right circumstances and a "hanging" arbitrator and you just might get your case reversed. So is the case of Beverly Riley.

On September 21, 2006, Riley, a fifteen year elementary school teacher at P.S. 28, allegedly approached a nine-year old student who was in the hallway after school. As she approached the child, who was waiting for her family to pick her up, Riley allegedly grabbed the girl, pulled her to the wall and slapped her on the left side of the face. The incident was reported to the principal, OSI investigated and Riley was charged with corporeal punishment. A second charge of corporal punishment was preferred against Riley for an incident allegedly occurring against another student on October 4, 2006.

After a five day hearing the arbitrator dismissed the October 4, 2006 incident but sustained the first incident and imposed the penalty of termination. In his finding the arbitrator noted Riley's fifteen year unblemished record but found it insignificant due to the devastating impact on the child.

The arbitrator wrote "even one proven incident of corporal punishment can have a devastating impact on the involved student, and justifies the imposition of severe discipline. . .[s]tudents and parents need to know that the Department will not tolerate teachers using physical force to discipline students, even where the incident of corporal punishment was isolated and the only bruise was 'on the inside'."

On appeal Justice Saliann Scarpulla of New York Supreme Court found that the arbitrator had gone too far. One slap does not indicate the pattern of misconduct that deserves the most severe penalty. Besides, the child admitted she was not injured by the incident..

The Court ordered Riley be reinstated and the matter be sent to another arbitrator for a penalty consistent with the Court's decision.

A copy of the September 13, 2010 decision can be obtained here.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who thinks more left than I was wondering if perhaps this backing away from the city's former stronger position on corp. punishment is the result of increased occurrences of harsh teacher behavior in charters and other schools operating outside of, and free from, DoE regulations.

Just a thought. We know a lot is going on in the charters that would not be tolerated in the district schools.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to this judge for doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I notice it wasn't NYSUT attorneys working for the teacher.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 9;10:

Where in the decision did you find that it was not NYSUT attorney who worked for the teacher at the hearing? It is my understanding that NYSUT does not make appeals or rarely makes appeals.

Anonymous said...

How about a one slap rule that permits teachers to slap bad administrators?

Anonymous said...

Good idea.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:44.
It is now an open secret that a critical mass of NYSUT attorney's do not look out for the best interests of their individual teacher clients.
Too many accused teachers have had too many conversations with too many other accused teachers.
Whether it is sidebar discussions/agreements, directives from their supervisors, the urge to settle cases, or coziness with adversaries and arbitrators the NYSUT attorneys' have lost the confidence of their clientle.
The biggest hint to the newly accused is when the NYSUT attorneys urge secrecy and/or settlement for the falsely accused.
The NYSUT attorneys can either deny this reality, clebrate this reality, or work to change this reality. And remind themselves each day that it is the teachers who pay their salaries. And that of their supervisors.
Any complaints by teachers regarding the lack of efforts/ethics by NYSUT attorneys should go straight to Mr. Ianuzzi. Don't waste your time appealing to senior counsel/supervisors - they are the source of the problem.

Anonymous said...

What is the name of this out-of-control arbitrator? When will NYSUT start appealing the thoroughly arbitrary pay-to-play fines imposed by other out-of-control arbitrators. I understand they (the arbitrators)want to ingratiate themselves with DOE to remain arbitrators but does NYSUT have to assist them by refusing to appeal the wacky decisions?

Anonymous said...

NYSUT represents NYSUT. They are in bed with the enemy. In fact, they are the enemy.

The arbitrators are corrupt. Everyone involved in the process knows that this is about getting paid.

As one nysut attorney said:
"The pipeline is endless".

Let's not fool ourselves. The fines are akin to paying indulgencies in the middle ages.

The teacher who has been found to be "incompetent", or has commited some crime like "insubordination" to a snot nosed young "school leader/maladministrator",
wil at best, be fleeced to the tune of thousands of dollars.

After the kangaroo court the offending teacher will be sent into the atr pool of bad senior teachers.


Angry Nog

Moriah Untamed said...

Did the teacher ever admit to slapping the child, or was the child's version believed over the teacher's version. Maybe there is an underlying doubt that the OSI investigation was fair.