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A short recount of how I became a target they tried so hard to silence.

     I am Francesco Alexander Portelos. I am an educator and I love my job. I am a Polytechnic University Civil/Environmental Engineer turned middle school teacher and this is my story on how I went from hero to villain by bringing up the needs of the students and community.
    For four and half years I served my community and school Berta Dreyfus IS 49 the best I could (see links above). I stayed late almost every day to not only renovate my S.T.E.M. Lab 2 times and create engaging lessons, but to also, troubleshoot tech issues for colleagues, design more efficient ways to communicate in a 21st century world plus much, much more. My Robotics team has won countless awards in Staten Island including Top Design in NYC.
    With years of “Satisfactory” ratings and countless thank yous I somehow received 3 Disciplinary Letters in my file in 10 days, have been harassed by my administrators, had a DOE SCI investigation started on me, confiscating my DOE issued iPad, Macbook and teacher PC and asked to resign as UFT Chapter Delegate and finally removed from the school.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Everything was going great at school for 4.5 years. I loved teaching and my principal, students and parents loved my class and dedication to the school. However, I did not entirely agree with all the ways my troubled school was being run. I decided to become proactive. I became Union Delegate and also obtained a seat on the School Leadership Team (SLT) amongst many other things like speaking up in meetings about safety and lack of discipline. As part of the SLT I noticed we were never talking about the Comprehensive Educational Plan (our school’s goals) or budget which were our main team goals. At my fourth meeting, December 13 2011, while the principal was out of the room, I asked the SLT Chairperson “Are we ever going to talk about the CEP and Budget?“. I did not wait for the principal to leave, it was just that she was not there. This sparked a debate as more and more SLT members, including parents, were wondering the same thing. The principal walked in and when asked she told us “The CEP was due December 1st. I already submitted it.” Now the SLT members, comprised of educators and parents, all have to sign it. This caused suspicious looks from the parents and staff. When the principal stepped out again we started looking for answers. The UFT leader, Richard Candia said that we could have called an emergency meeting before the due date had we known. I found an SLT Support site and with the knowledge of all members present (including the chairperson) sent the following email to the contact person:

 MY EMAIL TO SLT SUPPORT SITE

 On Dec 13, 2011, “Francesco Portelos” <fportelos@gmail.com> wrote:

 Jim,
I just found your SLT blog. Very interesting. I am a brand new member to the team and very disheartened to see that all we do is discuss calendar events. We had absolutely no input in our schools budget or CEP. What can we do? We all just left a meeting very upset
.

 -Francesco

 HIS RESPONSE

From: <calantjis@aol.com>
Date: Dec 14, 2011 7:13 PM
Subject: Re: School Leadership Team

Dear Francesco,Your principal’s violating Chancellor’s RegulationsA-655 and B-801 and State Educational Law 2590-H (15). Speak with the PTA President and Chapter Leader who are core members of the Team with the Principal. Speak with the principal with other members and inform them that you will have to file a complaint with the Superintendent.You can also contact the District Leadership Team for assistance and FACE, the DOE parent advocacy department.
The Team is suppose to be working on the 2012-2013 CEP and budget alignment this school year.Feel free to share this e-mail.Sincerely,
James Calantjis
calantjis@aol.com
sltsupport.blogspot.com

—————————–

I was very surprised by his response and forwarded it to UFT Chapter Leader Rich Candia and SLT Chairperson Susanne Abramowitz to see how we can rectify this matter.

From: Francesco Portelos <fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 7:44 PM
Subject: Fwd: Re: School Leadership Team
To: Rich Candia ,Susanne Abramowitz

What do we do?

-Francesco

 I believe this is the point where they turned on me and made me a scapegoat instead of performing the job they were elected to do. Had they and Principal Linda Hill acted in a proper and professional manner this would have been resolved back then. They did not and instead started building a baseless case against me. Richard Candia and Susanne Abramowitz eventually wrote false statements about me. See File Letter 1 in the Disciplinary Letter section. I have since called the DOE’s Office of Special Investigation to make a complaint for violating NYC Charter section 1116 False Accusations by a City Employee (OSI case 2012-2251). One of the things I find odd is that, back in the winter, Susanne Abramowitz asked UFT President Michael Mulgrew “What do we do if we can’t get rid of a horrible, horrible principal?” So it struck me as strange th

9 thoughts on “How I went from Hi-Tech lab to the Rubber Room

  1. Pingback: protectportelos

  2. Very interesting and seems similar to my experience at Harlem Renaissance HS under the direction of Mary Rice-Boothe. It must be part of the training manual at the leadership academy on how to go after teachers who are not “team” players. The funny thing about Mary, she was so bad, they extended her probation a fourth year and then was let go. Later Marisol Bradbury hired her at a network to consult new principals. That is what she does now. This should be criminal. She was absolutely horrible and a cold hearted administrator who took many of the staff down.

  3. I am so sorry by reasding all the that happened to you .we all found you a very hardworking and caring teacher who is really concerned about the students .how we can help you do we need to call the school or DOE wish you a good luck

    • No luck involved. It is a coordinated, trained attack on teachers who are student advocates. You are labeled as not a team player. You wait on their timetable and then get blamed for it, then hope you get the luck of the draw with an arbitrator who may be independent minded. The DOE investigative units never go after the truth, it is always an attack on the teacher. Way to many tools are given to principals to go after teachers and other staff who they do not like for non professional reasons, no matter the competence of the principal.

  4. I’ve known you for 3 years now and i know you wouldnt do those things. You’re an honorable man and you’re a hardworking man. Obviously Abromawitz and Candia are too scared of Hill and they dont wanna lose what they have so far and are probably kissing up to her by telling lies to her. I believe you should fight these lies.

  5. Has Ms. Hill completely and utterly LOST HER MIND?! If Mr. Portelos did all of that, then my name is George W. Bush! Mr. Portelos taught me for about 3 years, and he never did that! He even yelled at someone for cursing! So I’m on his side!

  6. Pingback: Dear Student, Parent, Taxpayer….I’m sorry but I’m trying. | Protect Portelos

  7. This is what happens when you mix politics and education. You can’t do both. Either you have to work within the system or get shut out of it. Its a hard lesson to learn in life but that’s the way it is. You’re a martyr, sure, but who is educating your students now? Were they better off with an average teacher who said nothing or one that led them to best design awards and is now no longer there? Pick your battles in life friend. You’re not going to make a difference sitting in a paper closet.

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