NYC teachers avoid the ax despite disturbing behavior with students

Victor Skinner, 

NEW YORK – Several tenured New York City teachers accused of disturbing behavior with students are now serving as substitutes after receiving minor reprimands through the teacher termination process.

The New York Post is highlighting how the process for terminating tenured teachers laid out in the teachers union contract with the city often results instead in sanctions by hearing officers who reinstate the dangerous educators.

PS 48 teacher Susana Martinez, for example, is accused of forcing a third-grader to wash his mouth with soap after cursing in class, and she denied the incident occurred despite witnesses who backed the boy.

At her termination proceeding, hearing officer John L. Woods Jr. opted instead to keep her on the city’s payroll and imposed a $2,500 fine, the Post reports.

tenure_small NYC teachers avoid the ax despite disturbing behavior with students Schools

The city’s Department of Education also sought to terminate Pathways College Preparatory School math teacher Martine Darcelin for telling her 11-year-old students to “stop acting so freaking retarded.” The Queens teacher told students her 6-year-old son “is smarter than all of you,” and taunted students by assigning them “white names” or “blond names” like Jeff and Becky.

“Hearing officer Michael S. Lazan deemed Darcelin an otherwise good teacher, fining her $7,500,” according to the Post.

Teachers accused of sexual gestures towards their students also avoided the ax.

The Post reports:

Edwin Rivera, a gym and health teacher at the Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice in Bedford-Stuyvesant, stared at the breasts and butts of girls, telling one, “I like your jeans” as she bent to pick up a basketball. In view of kids, he “developed an erection” while watching a girl dance. Rivera denied all charges and claimed he had markers in his sweat-pants pocket.

Hearing officer Lisa Brogan found Rivera’s actions “repugnant” and “disturbing,” but rejected the city Department of Education’s bid to fire him. She suspended him for several months and ordered him to take courses on “teacher/student boundaries and sexual harassment.”

The teachers, who are all now working as substitutes, are among a long list of educators who have abused students – sexually, physically, mentally and otherwise – but retained their jobs through the teacher discipline system laid out in their union contract.

For decades the officials with United Federation of Teachers and it’s parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, have resisted efforts by city officials to crack down on dangerous educators, a stalemate that has forces city residents to continue to pay tenured teachers who have been remove from the classroom.

The teachers were assigned to “rubber rooms” instead, where they did nothing while collecting their paychecks. Over the years, problem ballooned into an expense costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year.

Education reformers have long pointed out how the burdensome process for terminating tenured teachers – which some believe is impossible – drags down both the teaching profession and student learning, while unions argue that teachers’ due process “rights” trump those concerns.