Back in June of 2009, my colleague and I had already known of and used Google Apps (docs, calendar, gmail). We wanted to get a closer look on how a school was using it and visited IS 339 in the Bronx. Our visit only reinforced our notion that this can benefit everyone schoolwide back home at Berta Dreyfus IS 49. Upon our return we were very excited and brought up the idea to the administrators. As with most things new and unknown we were met with some hesitation from the administration. “We already have DOE email” we were told and “I don’t know if the staff will go for it.” This is proven in that we did not have a PD and introduction to the Google Apps we wanted until November 2009.

Throughout the rest of June, summer and September 2009 I subtly mentioned that I wanted to create this for our school.  Again they weren’t against it, but they were not exactly big supporters giving the green light. Finally we felt we needed to actually just go ahead and do it, set it up and then present it back to the administration again on a silver platter. On the night of October 8, 2009, I, Francesco Portelos, purchased the domain http://www.dreyfus49.com. As you can see from the following emails I went right to work and this became a pet project I was determined to breathe life into. I spent COUNTLESS hours after school, late nights, holidays, weekends and even snow days setting up what became the great dreyfus49.com school communication hub. It has been highlighted in JIT Reviews, Quality Reviews and admired by parents and visitors Principal Hill brought in to show it off.


Attempts to convince the administration that Google Apps can work 11 days after I bought and began setting up domain:

From: Mr. Portelos mrportelos@gmail.com  <—–Notice dreyfus accounts were still not created)
Date: Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 5:08 PM
Subject: Schools look to Google Apps for help
To: “Hill Linda (31R049)”, Martino Anne Marie

This is just another article written about the growing amount of schools using google apps:

This is my STEM Lab site that students can go on and see all assignments due and watch all video tutorials on how to do them. The parents I have mentioned this to love the idea that students can catch up if absent. (Of course providing they have PC access).
 Trying to reassure the Principal that again Google Apps (dreyfus49.com) will work and that the tech team and I will help along the way.
On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 9:20 PM, Mr. Portelos  wrote:

    I think the meeting was great and don’t worry, we will be there every step to help all. Here are the video tutorials to help you get started.

Please let me know if these 3 video tutorials need to be redone before they are sent out to the staff.
Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

-Mr. Portelos
IS 49 Berta Dreyfus

 For more emails on how I was asked to work on the site during the summer, holidays and off hour  times see here in Thank You Emails

For the next 2+ years I continued to work tirelessly in making the site great and helping all 1000+ users get the most of it. All the while I would continue paying and autorenewing it year after year. The payments and ownership status never really crossed my mind until January 25, 2012. That was the day my administrator access to the site was revoked. No one said anything to me and I only found out when I attempted to reset the password of a student who needed access to their work.

Revoke Admin Privileges
Admin privileges has been revoked from FPortelos@dreyfus49.com
January 25, 2012 10:09:46 AM EST

I used my admin access to reset the passwords of the students and staff. I no longer had that access and my students work was affected. Apparently that date coincided with the week all these false accusations were made about me and continue 3 months later.

On January 27, 2012 , just 2 days later, there was an attempt by the chapter leader, Richard Candia, to stop me from speaking at a union meeting composed of about 60 members. The UFT Chapter Leader not only tried to stop me , but also told 60 adults to get up and leave. He, his girlfriend and the SLT Chairperson walked out and I continued to speak. Later that evening, Richard Candia, emailed me and administrators and asked me to resign as UFT Delegate. I responded to him and CC’d union members only and proclaimed that I will not resign.

The next morning I woke up to get ready for my Leadership in Education class at the College of Staten Island and found that my account was suspended. Immediately I thought they changed my password and were going through my account. Since I was already suspecting foul play going on behind the scenes I got back in with a back up account that was created. Since it was the weekend and I did not want to have to worry about more foul play, I went ahead and took away the admin access to several accounts who had the power to shut me out from the site I own again. Call it defense mechanism, call it a smart tactic or being irrational. An analogy I tell people is “Imagine you own a building and you give others the keys. They then go behind your back and lock you out. What would you do?”

User Suspend
fportelos@dreyfus49.com has been suspended
January 27, 2012 10:48:40 PM EST
Revoke Admin Privileges
Admin privileges has been revoked from FPortelos@dreyfus49.com
January 27, 2012 10:39:43 PM EST

Again I made a call and according to Google Inc. Principal Linda Hill fully suspended my account on dreyfus49.com after 10:48PM the night I refused to resign. Now she had no business interfering with union matters nor suspending my account and keeping me from class grades and other important documentation. How did she know about my email if she isn’t on our union list? Our Chapter Leader, Richard Candia, who was elected to support and protect us, forwarded her the email with the following false statement “This was sent to the entire staff”. A week and a half later I received a disciplinary letter in my personal file for insubordination.

The email below describes the next big event leading to the death of our beloved site.

From: Francesco Portelos <fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Subject: Dreyfus49.com Issue
To: Linda Hill <LHill2@schools.nyc.gov>
Cc: eclaudi@schools.nyc.gov, srotkowitz@uft.org, epietromonaco@uft.org, George Stavropoulos <gest@stavlaw.com>

Dear Ms. Hill,

      We were asked Tuesday February 14th to appear before Superintendent Claudio and UFT District Rep Sean Rotkowitz. It was my understanding that this meeting was held to clear issues taking place at our school. During the meeting I offered to relinquish ownership of the dreyfus49.com domain.  After I offered to relinquish ownership our meeting continued and there was no movement to remove the baseless letters I currently have in my file. There was no offer of apology for the staff email sent that embarrassed me. There was no guarantee the the issues at school will cease. After seeking legal counsel of an intellectual property attorney, I was asked to hold off transfer of ownership until the case is looked at.
       The fact that I was prevented from using the very site I legally own is actionable. There are 2 things I do not want. One is that the site be taken down. Two that this issues continue and we wind up in court for harassment, slander and libel. All I really want is to continue to work hard and make Dreyfus 49 a better place. Leaving the meeting on Tuesday I did not get the feeling that this is everyone’s agenda.
       Last week I asked to review my personal file and I was told there is no time until February 29th 2012. By then I will have met with both my personal lawyer (CC’d) and the intellectual property lawyer. I am also waiting to hear back from NYC DOE DIIT. They informed me ( off the record ) that Google Apps for Education is not a recognized form of proper communication within the DOE. They also informed me that their Internet Acceptable Use Policy has not been updated since 2006. I am waiting for them to get back to me because we have issues pertaining to privacy amongst others things.
      This is not an attempt to hold hostage the ownership of the site. My lawyers and I just need more time. Lastly please communicate to only me for any future disciplinary hearings, if any, and I will decide who, if anyone, from the UFT will be representing me.
 Thank you and I hope we can resolve this for everyone’s sake.
-Francesco Portelos
Then came the Axe…
I responded immediately with:
From: Francesco Portelos <fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Subject: Close website directive
To: Linda Hill <lhill@dreyfus49.com>
Cc: srotkowitz@uft.org, eclaudi@schools.nyc.govMs. Hill,

   I have received the directive in the mail to close down the dreyfus49.com site. As owner of the domain name I will make the change and it will no longer forward traffic to the current site. This does pose an important question though. Will we have any overlap so teachers can move over files to your new berta49.org site or will it open up after dreyfus49 is closed? I’m not sure it is even possible. I just don’t want staff members looking for files that no longer exist. I wait for your response.

-Francesco Portelos
So the I tried one more time to save the site….
From: Francesco Portelos <fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 7:27 AM
Subject: Re: Close website directive
To: Linda Hill <LHill2@schools.nyc.gov>, epietromonaco@uft.org
Cc: srotkowitz@uft.orgeclaudi@schools.nyc.govMs. Hill,
I still did not receive an answer to this email below. Teachers, parents and students I spoke to are not aware that the accounts will be deleted. Countless lesson plans, student work, etc will all be lost if we do this without overlapping and transferring. If I do not hear back from you about delaying this I will proceed with making the changes to the site. Even though it will go against everything I believe in and set back the staff and students.Mr. Portelos

So on Monday March 19 I disconnected access and traffic to the site. It was very unfortunate.

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