Huffington Post Live Interview on Rubber Rooms 11.08.12
Click Here for Interview (16 minutes)
There are a million things I could be thinking about right now, but instead my mind goes to “How can we fix this Rubber Room issue?” I think everyone can agree that it is a problem. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke about it on the John Gambling show Friday October 19, 2012 and Chancellor Walcott discussed it on Good Day NY on Thursday October 18, 2012. One said it didn’t work out too well as the other said “…there isn’t a problem.” So which is it?
We have read a whole series of articles on how it costs the taxpayer over $20 million dollars today with 220+ teachers reassigned and over $60 million years ago with 800 teachers reassigned. Do you know what number everyone is ignoring? The number of students affected. Yes…remember them? The ones sitting at their desk, swinging their legs under their seat? It’s estimated that a middle school and high school teacher instructs about 150 students on average. Let’s just assume most of the reassigned teachers are from middle school and high school.
150 students multiplied by 220 teachers= 33,000 students!
My thoughts on a possible remedy
I agree with the mayor and the chancellor that if a serious allegation of misconduct is made, then we need to temporarily separate the teacher and the students. The problem is that on average the Office of Special Investigations and The Special Commissioner of Investigation’s offices acquire about 30-50 allegations per day EACH. So imagine 60-100 allegations called in a day during a 180 day school year….18,000 allegations??
The problem is that there is no penalty for FALSE ACCUSATIONS. If there is, it is mild or not enforced. I have submitted allegations of false allegations to SCI. SCI sent it to OSI and months later I was told the case “was not assigned for investigation as this office generally does not handle complaints involving staff-on-staff dispute or discord. You should address those to your Principal.” An administrator, parent or student can make any false allegation and have no fear of perjury. Sure one can take another to court and sue, but who has the money and time to do all that? Besides, by then your name is already dragged through the mud.
So if we can start by reducing the amount of false allegations made, we can have the money and manpower concentrated on real allegations.
There is actually a section of the NYC Charter that discusses false reporting:
§ 1116. Fraud; neglect of duty; willful violation of law relative to office. a. Any council member or other officer or employee of the city who shall wilfully violate or evade any provision of law relating to such officer’s office or employment, or commit any fraud upon the city, or convert any of the public property to such officer’s own use, or knowingly permit any other person so to convert it or by gross or culpable neglect of duty allow the same to be lost to the city, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and in addition to the penalties imposed by law and on conviction shall forfeit such office or employment, and be excluded forever after from receiving or holding any office employment under the city government.
b. Any officer or employee of the city or of any city agency who shall knowingly make a false or deceptive report or statement in the course of duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, forfeit such office or employment.
Should the Teacher be removed?
The next thing is to really look at the allegations and see if the teacher should be investigated while they are allowed to teach.
- A teacher should be removed from the classroom if there is a serious case of incompetence, after support has been offered.
- A teacher should be removed from the classroom only if they are a serious danger to students, staff or themselves.
Other than that, a teacher should be assigned to duties within the school or left in the classroom while investigated.
A 60 calendar day limit should be placed on all investigations where a teacher is removed. If the investigation comes up with nothing in two months, then have the teacher placed back in the class while investigation continues.
I don’t just bring up problems, but try to solve them too. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.