Queens high school teacher Eric Chasanoff bashes Ed Dept. for trying to fire him over 'innocent remark'
Chasanoff fined for $2,000 for telling student he 'could kiss her' for passing testMonahan and Durkin are just trying to fill space in the newspapers with this article.
The issue is touching and "verbal abuse". At 3020-a, depending upon who the arbitrator is and what he or she has been "told" about the Respondent employee brought up on charges (there is communication outside of the hearing room with some arbitrators), the record may or may not include a motive as to why the alleged "crime" occurred, and whether or not the "crime" needs a severe penalty.
|Dennis Walcott hugs a student|
As we can see from the pictures above and to the right, Dennis Walcott is a huggy guy. The first picture shows him obviously touching the girl beside him. Was he reprimanded for this? How did the girl in the pink sweater feel? what about the little boy in the second picture? Was he scared? Did Mr. Walcott hold him there longer than he wanted? Did anyone ask? What about the picture at right, did the 18-yr-old want Walcott to put his arm around his waist? For how long? What happened when people saw the picture - was the boy punished? Is this extreme zero tolerance appropriate, or are we creating volcanoes out of sand dunes?
These are the questions that are asked at 3020-a, and it is up to the arbitrator to decide what happened. It doesnt really matter what Walcott does, he will get off, because he is not a tenured teacher over the age of 50 and making a teacher salary of more than $80,000. He is also the CEO of the New York public school system and has immunity from prosecution.
Below are pictures which Eric brought to his 3020-a of Joel Klein hugging children. What's fair, Eric asked, when he tapped a student briefly on the shoulder to praise her for doing well on a test, yet Mr. Klein touches children in many ways. And Eric spent more than 4 years in the Queens rubber room to pay him back for his alleged 'crime'.
I would like to know why the Daily News and the New York Times picked the teachers that they did. Why not choose the teacher who "lost" a child at dismissal, supposedly, but no one asked the child what happened, the child was never without an adult nearby, and the child never attended the 3020-a to testify about what happened. Yet the teacher spent more than 2 years in the rubber room, and ended up with a decision to give a $1000 fine. I attended all the hearing dates. Whereas the teacher should have been completely exonerated, the arbitrator told all of us that she simply could not exonerate, because she had to give the DOE something. She had to "split the baby", but did not hand in her decision until more than 9 months after the closing arguments by both sides.
Josh Javits, an arbitrator who was hired to fire - in my opinion - did not fire a teacher who was accused of pinching a student's ear, after the investigator substantiated the charge because he looked at the ear a week later and it was "pink". Javits ignored a statement of the student saying that he was dragged on the floor the day of the incident by another student, (he possibly cut his face or ear, went home, and did not want to implicate his friend, so his parent accused the teacher). Javits fined the teacher $10,000. The DOE was furious that Javits did not terminate in this case. When the teacher appealed to the Supreme Court, Corporate Counsel Gail Mulligan told me that she took the file and had it in her office after I went to the records room at 60 Centre Street and found the file missing. Suddenly Judge Doris Ling-Cohen issued a judgment that "termination" was the appropriate penalty in this case, but termination was rejected by Javits. The teacher wrote the judge saying that termination was never considered, and then Ling-Cohen wrote Mulligan and said, "What happened?" meaning, why did you write a judgment that was not correct? Mulligan wrote the judge and told her that indeed, the mention of termination in this case was never requested, and the judge changed her ruling to upholding the fine. The missing file in this case appeared in the records room in a month later with a new jacket, which I made copies of for my records. However, the Corporation Counsel continues to send out the incorrect judgment, with the termination ruling in it, to teachers appealing their arbitration decisions pursuant to Article 7511.
What about another teacher whose hearings I attended,who was brought to 3020-a but effectively exonerated, yet the articles do not write anything about his arbitrator, Randi Lowitt. Is she, and other arbitrators not mentioned, "protected" for some reason? Randi Lowitt terminated Christine Rubino for a one-time Facebook comment, therefore does that give Randi a "protected" spot in the media? Paul Zonderman is a terrific arbitrator who never drank the NYC DOE mind-altering punch, and often told me he would not bow to them. He did not deserve to be singled out for ridicule and abuse, most certainly.
The newspapers clearly have an agenda, and as a reporter/advocate, I am not in favor of using a newspaper to push policy, or using so-called "reporters" to validate policy decisions.
Anyway, Eric wrote his story, and I have the link, below, and his story is very similar to the story told by Michael Dalton, as you can see below. All of the newspaper articles currently out in the public realm beg the reader to suspend rational judgment and look at everything happening in the teacher trials as arbitrary and capricious. Ask yourself "how do they know?" Did the reporter read the transcripts of all the 16 cases, and look at all of Paul Zonderman's decisions? I dont think so.
Back to the current onslaught by the media: on April 6, 2012, David Chen at the NY TIMES published an article on Michael Dalton, a teacher accused of sexual abuse, but he paid a $2000 fine just like Eric Chasinoff did after he, too, presented Arbitrator Bonnie Weinstock pictures of Joel Klein too near to children. Wienstock wrote, says Chen, "that Mr. klein's arm is either wrapped around the child or resting in front of the child." Weinstock did not find Dalton's actions to be sexual in nature and was convinced he was sorry for inadvertently crossing the invisible line that is drawn for teachers.As I read it, Chen seems to say that Weinstock should never have gone along with Dalton's comparison of his case with what Klein did, or still does (we dont know, do we?). Why wasnt Klein ever charged, so we could hear his apology?
In Successful Fight to Keep Job, Music Teacher Cited Double Standard by City
The New York City Education Department wanted to fire Michael Dalton, a music teacher in Washington Heights, after its investigators said that he had placed three third-grade boys on his lap in what they considered an inappropriate manner.
He had tickled them in their midsection, the city’s investigative report said. He even cradled one boy, and cooed a lullaby, before kissing him on the forehead, the report said.
But wait, said Mr. Dalton, when he finally had a chance to defend himself.
He presented a photo of Joel I. Klein, the schools chancellor at the time, surrounded by three beaming students. It was hard to tell whether one of those students is in Mr. Klein’s lap, or just standing in front of him, but it is clear, an arbitrator concluded, that Mr. Klein’s “arm is either wrapped around the child or resting in front of the child.”
“The facts regarding Mr. Dalton demonstrate a clear case of disparate treatment,” the arbitrator, Bonnie Siber Weinstock, wrote in July 2010. She ruled that the tickling and kissing were inappropriate, but not sexual. Ruing the lack of clear standards on what school employees could and could not do, she rejected the city’s attempt to fire Mr. Dalton and instead fined him $2,000.
Mr. Dalton, who is 48, was one of 16 teachers the city sought to fire in recent years, saying they had behaved inappropriately with children, but who were allowed to return to the classroom after an arbitrator chose to give them a lesser penalty like a fine, a suspension or a reprimand. Two of those 16, one of them Mr. Dalton, have been removed from the classroom again because of new accusations against them.
The handling of teachers accused of behaving improperly with students has become an uncomfortable issue for City Hall in the past few months. At least seven school employees have been arrested this year, accused of sexual offenses involving pupils. Two of them had been found to have acted inappropriately around students, but were allowed to keep working.
Asked about the 16 cases on his radio show on Friday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that some of the rulings “don’t make any sense,” perhaps because arbitrators, who must be approved by both the Education Department and the teachers’ union, were loath to impose the stiffest penalties.
“Maybe if you were a serial ax murderer you might get a slap on the wrist," he said.
But Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, scoffed at criticism of the 3020-a hearings, named after the section of the state law that guarantees tenured teachers a chance to defend themselves before an arbitrator before they can be fired.
“If their position now is that the 3020-a process didn’t work, they haven’t even used their tools,” he said. “If they felt something went wrong, they should’ve appealed it.”
Mr. Dalton said that the new complaint against him was neither sexual nor criminal, and that it was being looked at by the department’s Office of Special Investigation, not the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation, which handles more serious cases. Neither Mr. Dalton nor the department would elaborate.
But his previous case provides a window into the complicated, sometimes uncomfortable world of teacher discipline. “The notion of inappropriate physical contact can be the type of charge that ends a pedagogue’s career,” Ms. Weinstock wrote. “However, before termination is the penalty selected, the record evidence must be quite clear.”
The case involved a class Mr. Dalton was teaching in the 2007-8 school year at Washington Heights Academy. He “scooped” up one student, for instance, and rocked him as if he were a baby, sang a lullaby, then kissed him on the forehead, according to the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation report.
One student, when asked by city investigators whether the tickling was fun, said, “Kind of in the middle.”
During his arbitration hearing, Mr. Dalton, sounding contrite, said, “I confused my role as an uncle and a neighbor with my role as teacher, and that in those cases, tickling is not a big deal.” But tickling in the classroom, he agreed, “leaves lots of questions open as to what’s going on.”
But Mr. Dalton also challenged the effort to fire him. In addition to the photo of Mr. Klein, he provided a photo of a female colleague on a trip with kindergarten students. She was seated on the floor, legs crossed, with a female student’s “buttocks touching the inner portion of the teacher’s thighs,” according to the arbitrator’s ruling.
The arbitrator, Ms. Weinstock, concluded that Mr. Dalton’s contact was not sexual, and found his “remorse to be sincere.”
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Dalton, who most recently taught at Intermediate School 143 in Washington Heights, defended the arbitration process as fair. He suggested that his difficulties in 2008 were rooted in his poor relationship with his principal at the time.
“The reason this is important is because principals are not necessarily principled, and they can use the system to remove teachers they’re at odds with,” he said.