Rubber Room Turned Inside Out By Talented Teacher

As NAPTA members hear President Obama proclaim that he has increased the teaching of science and math in our schools, which will lead to jobs and the success of this nation, we cringe. Read what they did to this brilliant science teacher to dispose of her.

White Chalk Criminals have no intention of fixing anything but the process for pocketing more and more of our money by creating charter schools where fewer regulations help them steal more.

President Obama has yet to uncover that the agenda of White Chalk Crime is NOT compatible with successful teaching or quality teachers. As he proactively attacks unions or what he sees is the way of making good education happen, he is simply delighting the mini Bernie Madoff's that control our schools. Yes, our unions have sold out. Did they have a choice given the powerful White Chalk Criminals that dispose of anyone who gets in their way? Sure, they had a choice to be ethical, whistle blowers, but their fate would be the same as the rest of us who speak out since the general public has been duped into believing that those charming fellows who run our schools are not greedy, self-serving monsters like Bernie Madoff.

We do not defend the unions' despicable acts any more than we defend teachers' silence to keep their jobs, but we acknowledge that out of control power produces evil and corruption and that fixing this problem can only happen when public officials acknowledge or admit this out of control power rather than pretending the people with power are not White Chalk Criminals. All we can do is keep reporting the truth and one day the light bulbs will go on. Until then read about this talented, brilliant science teacher who turned the rubber room into lemonade, while keeping in mind what the students missed because White Chalk Criminals could not care less about students, parents, teachers or this nation's future. Bernie may be in jail, but his methods and legacy live on at ALL of our expense. Bernie Madoff was merely the tip of an iceberg of greed we have yet to face. NAPTA

The writer was employed as a teacher by the NYC Dept. of Ed 1997-2008 gaining tenure in 2000 and including a four year leave in which she earned a J.D. degree. At age 65, she reclaimed her position (jobs at that age are hard to come by in law as well) and practiced after school with other attorneys for two years prior to establishing her own practice. The Principal she returned to, had been installed while she was on leave, believed in exerting autonomy on who came to teach in "her" building and asserted that to central office; central office responded that I was on an approved leave and returned me to the school because there were five vacancies there in my tenure area [biology] much to the Principal's chagrin.

After two years of assigning me to 12 self-contained special ed classes (where I had neither experience nor license) with at least two emotionally disturbed students in most and three other out of license classes, this Principal had orchestrated sufficient "gotcha's" to bring me up on charges claiming I was incompetent in managing the behavior of the students I was assigned.

I was dispatched to a rubber room where I counseled my colleagues, read cases on Westlaw, brought my gorgeous and wonderful Siberian Husky service dog NICO who raised the morale of all the teachers ensconced there. When I intervened with the Fire Department which was being misused to displace reassigned teachers from a coveted location and desk space, further accusations that I had changed my time sheets were brought and then I was directed "not to bring the dog."

I was forced to sue and was immediately granted a temporary restraining order until I found that I already had a right to bring the service dog under Civil Rights Law 47-a and Human Rights Law 296(14). Then the UFT sued in my behalf for age discrimination; I sued pro se for disability discrimination. The arbitrator who heard my case did not find it mitigating that it was unlawful to assign non-special ed licensed teachers to self-contained special ed classes and fired me. I had 10 days to file to vacate the arbitral award and did so. All four suits were settled fifteen months after I was terminated for a very substantial sum and other benefits. I really was not looking favorably toward a third year in the rubber room (nor was NICO) nor becoming an ATR, so being fired was more relief than anything else.

I had a ready made niche practice which now includes more than 15 cases against the Department by unfairly treated teachers. The rest of my practice is mostly appellate, class action and mass tort litigation. I have no personal grudge against the Department (I am sure I raised that Principal's blood pressure far more often than she did mine by my cool and calm to her harassment), the rubber room was an eye opener and a low-keyed place to assist my colleagues, read my cases, be with my dog and not have to interact with that Principal.

I tried to help her improve the school but it just antagonized her more that my ideas were being promoted around the building--now the school has failed and will be closed --she has failed and is on the was out.

I received a big check for my pain and suffering, I am no longer conflicted out of suing the City or its Departments and I make a living of it -- not out of animus but because of what I saw was going on my last two years as the Department's employee, and I have built a wonderful and thriving law practice in the last two years since I am off its payroll. I do not think that I (with two doctorates, vast quality career experience including a full Professorship at an Ivy league medical school was what the Chancellor had in mind to purge as "dead wood," but he has precisely set the stage that I and the teachers like me are the first to be purged by insecure Principals). I love my practice and would not have preferred to spend the last four years any other way, but the Chancellor would do well to take a closer look at his 1100+ Principals who have too much power and too little skill.

Joy Hochstadt