On Thursday, October 4, 2012, I took my plight to a whole new level when I created a Live Stream of a NYC Rubber Room (that does not exist). For months I have been blogging about it on my site and giving the world a “play by play” of what is wrong with the US education system today. Well, at least some of what is wrong with the system. We don’t fall behind Estonia (no offense to Estonians) just because we take good teachers out of the classroom. What puzzles me, and I think everyone else, is that I not only streamed Thursday, but most of the day Friday as well. This after I did a live interview with Good Day NY, NY1 and was in the NY Post and Daily News. See all related coverage here.
The DOE officials claim that I have “been extremely difficult to work with, was transferred twice, and there are multiple investigations pending against him.” Really? Well last night I sent them an email asking them to be a little less vague. Have you ever heard of the DOE being vague on any allegations against a teacher before?
——-From: Francesco Portelos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, Oct 7, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Subject: “Francesco Portelos has been extremely difficult to work with”?
Cc: DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov, Gordon Andrew <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bryan Glass <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, CJackson-Chase@schools.nyc.gov, email@example.com Good evening,
No Response, but I am not expecting any since I have had 10 months of little to no responses. See below.
Appealing my arbitrary and capricious removal.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Francesco Portelos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 10:11 AM
Subject: An Educator’s Appeal –
To: DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, DROSE@council.nyc.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, Ignizio@council.nyc.ny.us, Governor.Cuomo@exec.ny.gov, THernandez5 <THernandez5@schools.nyc.gov>, RJackson <RJackson@council.nyc.gov>, SpeakerQuinn <SpeakerQuinn@council.nyc.gov>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, NYSAssembly60@gmail.com, email@example.com, Gordon Andrew <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, CJackson-Chase@schools.nyc.gov
Greetings Chancellor Walcott, PEP members and esteemed officials,
Below are just a few of the many comments left on my petition site and blog.
No response at all.
See another email to Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott only. This was again one of many attempts at diplomacy:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Francesco Portelos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, May 30, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Subject: Resolution and damage control
To: “DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov” <DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov>, email@example.com
Mr. Chancellor and Mr. Mayor,
Is there any way I can meet with you, or your deputies, to discuss a resolution to this growing retaliation and reassignment issue? My intentions were not to make anyone look bad, including the DOE, Mayor Bloomberg and UFT. This really started off as an innocent question about school goals and budget at an SLT meeting. It has since spiraled out of control to public blogging, investigations, PERB complaints, lawsuits and news media requesting interviews (CNN, Huffingtonpost, Daily News etc).
Yesterday I received part of my FOIL request and it is clear that Principal Linda Hill has been involved in major financial misconduct at Berta Dreyfus IS 49. She hand writes her own times and signs off. She clocked in for one grant while sitting and getting paid at another. She uses her P-Card for personal items, clocks in while at a restaurant etc.
I left the environmental inspection field, with my engineering degree from Polytechnic University, to educate inner city youth 5 years ago. I voluntarily took a $ 20,000+ cut in salary to educate, not to sit in a rubber room with no charges. Why am I being scrutinized and harassed?
Surely there must be some way we can resolve this. What I want is to return to my school, finish my administrators license and continue serving the students and community of this great city. Is this feasible?
Please take a look at the testimonials and comments on the sites below. I’m very resourceful and resilient. Please guide me. Thank you.
– Francesco Portelos
No Response. My findings are here: http://protectportelos.org/warrengate-files
See an email I received just yesterday from another Rubber Room teacher who has been railroaded and fired. I hope she wins her appeal and my story exposes the witch hunt going on.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Christine Rubino
Date: Sun, Oct 7, 2012 at 1:12 PM
Subject: Rubber Room account
To: “Mr. Portelos” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My name is Christine Rubino, and I was a NYC public school teacher for 14 years. In 2010, I made a sarcastic..venting comment on my private Facebook page. In February of 2011, I was yanked from my special needs class and banished to 131 Livingston Street in Brooklyn. There I was to wait for my 3020a “trial to begin”. They did not call it a Rubber Room..they called it a reassignment center. When, I first received the note that I was being reassigned, I was confused, as I thought that these rooms were abolished. On my first day, at the reassignment center, I introduced myself to the supervisor, who had me sit in an office chair, in a corner, in a room on the 5th floor. He let me know when lunch was and went over some other procedures. After 3 hours in solitude, I was ready to have a look around. As, I walked around, I noticed other people who “seemed out of place”. Months later, I would come to find out that they were rubber room detainees.
One the very first day, I sat alone, confused, and wondering what I was supposed to do there all day. I asked the supervisor, and his reply was “just sit there”. I thought to myself….is this what I am going to do everyday…and as time went on..the answer was yes. That afternoon, of the first day, and I’m not kidding, I was asked to go around the 6 floor building and count all the chairs..every chair. Wow, I thought, I know I am a math teacher, but I don’t think this is what I was meant to do. Not wanting to be insubordinate, I complied. This job took me less than 2 hours. When, I was done, I reported to the supervisor and asked if I could do anything else. The next job was to stuff folders for a network workshop. This took me a day or two to complete as I had to teach myself how to work the copy machine and learn to staple papers together.
By the 3rd day in the Rubber Room, no supervisor checked on me, no person asked me to do any jobs. I just sat there all day, from 8:30 until 3:00. Watching paint dry would have been more exciting. The only thing I kept thinking about was my students and how the state tests were fast approaching, and how my time was being wasted, and that the people who needed me most….were being punished the harshest. I thought the NYCDOE had a motto…CHILDREN FIRST. ALWAYS. Well, my students were definitely not put first. My experience in the rubber room made me realize exactly how prisoners felt, except I had not committed any crime, or do anything that made me a bad teacher. People would say to me…oh your so lucky, to sit around, collect your paycheck, and do nothing. I did NOT feel that way at all. I just wanted to get back to my students, my heart was broken for them. Sitting in the rubber room was a death sentence for me, as I am quite active, comical, and love to talk. I really was sad and depressed most of the days, but once I found the “others” like me, I was able to compose myself and do what needed to get done.
I spent 5 months in “solitary confinement” and I did not like it at all. I didn’t like it, not because I was being punished, but that my students were the ones suffering and tax payers had no idea what was going on. I also felt, my expertise was being wasted! It was the longest 5 months of my life, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Also we, as reassigned teachers cannot attend an Professional Development to further increase our education.
From: “Thompson Shawn” <SThomps@schools.nyc.gov>
Date: Sep 24, 2012 6:01 PM
Subject: RE: Special education workshop on Oct. 4 & 5
To: “Francesco Portelos” <email@example.com>
Cc: “Sean Rotkowitz” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Claudio Erminia” <email@example.com>
As a re-assigned staff, you are not eligible to attend any PD.
82-01 Rockaway Blvd.
Ozone Park, N.Y. 11416
(718) 642-5855 (tel)
(718) 391-6187 (fax)
From: Francesco Portelos [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 5:52 PM
To: Claudio Erminia; Thompson Shawn
Cc: Sean Rotkowitz
Subject: Fwd: Special education workshop on Oct. 4 & 5
Greetings Ms. Claudio and Ms. Thompson,
I would like to partake in this PD and need the OK from one of you. Thank you.
*Sent with Samsung Epic
From: “Carmen Alvarez, VP for Special Education” <email@example.com>
Date: Sep 24, 2012 2:36 PM
Subject: Special education workshop on Oct. 4 & 5
You are invited to a two-day special education workshop
The UFT, in collaboration with the UFT Teacher Center, is offering a series of Special Education Professional Development Institutes this year to support all school staff as the DOE implements special education reform in schools across the city.
The first in this series will be a free, two-day workshop on the foundations for creating research-based successful and positive school behavior systems. The presenter will be Dana Ashley, a senior STOPP behavior specialist.
We recommend that a team of two people from a school attend this workshop. Space is limited.
Date: Thursday & Friday, Oct. 4–5
So Rubber Rooms do not exist, yet we have first hand accounts of their existence as well as live video. Do we really want Chancellor Walcott making the decision of firing teachers just “accused” of misconduct when I sent them this video back in May/June and they never even removed the administrator (pictured right in black skirt) out of the building?