DOE vs Portelos Termination Verdict Is In 826 Days After They Took Aim to Fire.

Whistleblower

 

I want to say that I write this with overwhelming glee. I want to say that I write this while in a state of euphoria and with a Kool-Aid smile, but unfortunately I cannot. There are just too many losers in this 2+ year saga. In fact, I cannot think of one winner. Not one.

Before we get to the long-awaited finale of this chapter, there are some things that you should know or that I should remind you of (in case you have been following this blog for some time):

  • On January 30, 2012 I received the first negative components of my teaching career. They were three separate investigations called to the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) and two disciplinary notices. I believe it is safe to say that this was the day that my career was put in the cross-hairs. Letters of recommendation up until October 2011 and then five negative components in the same day tells me the goal was “FIRE HIM!” I fought, the best I could, more than I thought I ever could, for 826 days to make sure they did not succeed.
  • From the day I was removed, April 26, 2012, to the day of the decision below, was 737 days. “Fast and Fair” were the words of former NYC DOE Chancellor Joel Klein and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg when they shut down the Reassignment Centers in 2010.
  • Number of actual school days that I was paid not to teach leading up to this decision was 365.
  • The bill, paid by the taxpayers, to attempt to fire one whistleblower parent and teacher, is estimated at over $600,000. The breakdown, used to come up with this estimate, will be for another post. Just imagine 2 years of salaries for me, the substitutes,many attorneys, investigators, other school and central administration.
  • There were 21 days of hearings for my public 3020-a. The cost of the hearing alone was estimated at over $80,000.
  • There were 24 witnesses.
  • Tenure…sweet, sweet, tenure. The beautiful law that “…was developed to protect independent-minded educators from the whims of administrators.
  • The decision is 107 pages. Too many pages to include here in its entirety.
  • The 38 charges are also called Specifications and when you see something like T.2345, that references transcript page 2,345.
  • Number of students, negatively impacted by this unlawful and unwarranted exile, is unknown.

One last thing before you read whether or not they succeeded in firing me….

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU! Thank you for your countless, countless messages, retweets, likes, emails and advice. This stopped being my fight a looong time ago. This was (is) OUR fight!

Thank you!

Without further ado here are excerpts for now:

—————————

NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
– V. –
FRANCESCO PORTELOS, Respondent

Pursuant to Education Law § 3020-a.
—————————-

Pursuant to Section 3020-a of the New York State Education Law, Charges were
preferred by the Department of Education of the City School District of the City of New
York (“Department” or “DOE”) against tenured teacher Francesco Portelos
(“Respondent”) alleging that Respondent engaged in violations of the City Charter,
Board Rules, Chancellor’s Regulations, criminal conduct, violations of Department
policies, neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming his position and conduct prejudicial to the
good order of the service. Dept. Ex. 1.^ The Department seeks, as a penalty,
Respondent’s dismissal from service. Respondent requested a hearing on the charges
and I was appointed as Hearing Officer.

On March 14, 2014, the Department requested that the record be reopened
because of a letter the Special Commissioner’s Office on Investigations (“SCI”) had
issued to the Hearing Officer. This letter stated that SCI had discovered an error in its
report and in the testimony of one of the investigators regarding documents on Respondent’s Department computer that were referenced in Specification 3. After
Respondent contacted SCI, they reviewed the material and determined that these
documents had been retrieved from the Internet and not from Respondent’s DOE
computer. During a conference call on that date, the Department withdrew Specification 3 and the March 11, 2014 letter from SCI was admitted. Joint Ex. 1; T. 3636-3645.

—————-
BACKGROUND
I make the following findings of fact based upon the entire evidentiary record,
including credibility determinations. Despite the voluminous record in this proceeding
which consists of over 3600 transcript pages and 94 exhibits, many of the relevant facts
are not in dispute.

Respondent has been employed and assigned to I.S. 49 since 2007.
Respondent and his wife, who is also a teacher, live in the vicinity of I.S. 49.
Respondent left a higher paying position as an environmental engineer because he
decided to enter the “noble profession of education.” Respondent has a Bachelor’s
degree in engineering and later received a Master’s degree in general science
education. Initially, he was a substitute at I.S. 49 and Principal Linda Hill hired him in
2007 as a science teacher. In 2008, the Principal asked Respondent to take over the
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) lab when the position became
available. There were four technology labs at the school. T. 2026-2066.
Between 2007 and 2011, Respondent was highly regarded by the Principal and
other administrators. Both Principal Hill and Respondent described their working
relationship as very positive. T. 37-39, 2068. In the fall of 2011, Respondent received a
letter of recommendation from Principal Hill and two other Assistant Principals for the
Leadership Academy program he was enrolled in to become an administrator. Principal

Hill noted that:

Francesco works tirelessly assisting and motivating his students to
complete assigned work and reach his or her highest potential. Mr.
Portelos is dedicated and hard working, giving the school access to the
best technology the school can offer to our students and staff as well.

Two years ago, Mr. Portelos helped us create a dynamic computer lab to
teach STEM with … grant funding, often staying late hours on weekdays
and on weekends to ensure a quality lab.

Assistant Principal Martino also provided Respondent with a letter of
recommendation which described him as an “outstanding professional in every way. He
is dependable, conscientious, organized and prepared.” Resp. Ex. 2. She also noted
that he is “highly respected, not only by the faculty and students at I.S. 49, but also by
our parents and community members.”

Assistant Principal Ruzzi also provided a letter
of recommendation which observed that Mr. Portelos is the “lead teacher in the school’s
technology department and played an integral part in placing Dreyfus on the map as
having exemplary technology programs.” Resp. Ex. 2.
In addition to teaching. Respondent volunteered for technological and other
supportive activities for the school such as coaching the robotics team and developing
the school’s website (Dreyfus49.org) with another technology teacher. He,
along with other technology teacher, developed Power Point presentations about the technology program at I.S. 49 which impressed parents and recruited new students. T. 39, 2081-2082. Respondent also spent considerable time assisting other faculty and students
with technology or computer-related issues.

In September of 2011, Respondent became a member of the SLT. T. 2236. The
school’s UFT Chapter Leader, Dr. Richard Candia, also asked Respondent to join the
Union Consultation Committee and encouraged Respondent to run for the position of
Union Delegate. Respondent was elected to the Union Delegate position in November
2011. Respondent testified that he got involved in these entities to improve the school
and became privy to more information about the school. T. 2114. Both of these
positions set the stage for disagreements and concerns Respondent came to have with
Dr. Candia, Ms. Abramowitz and the administration regarding school policy and union
affairs. Most of the Specifications regarding the 2011-2012 school year relate to
conduct that involved Respondent, the Principal, Dr. Candia and Ms. Abramowitz
between January and March 2012 and are pivotal in evaluating both credibility and the arguments raised by Respondent regarding retaliation. These events are discussed
sequentially below.

 

—————

[I will leave the many pages of the story for another post and skip to the opinion and award]

—————

PENALTY

Many of the Specifications have been dismissed. Further, prior to February
2012, Respondent had an unblemished and stellar record. It is also mitigating for
purposes of the penalty that Respondent’s raising issues of public concern with the SLT
played a part in bringing him into the disciplinary arena. This was an extracurricular and
volunteer activity that he engaged in to improve the school. It is also an extenuating
circumstance that he had no Chapter Leader to defend him because Dr. Candia had
initiated many of the allegations and aligned himself with the administration.

The Department advances several arguments to support the proposition that
Respondent is “irremediable.” These include his initiation of investigations against
administrators, use of FOIL and other litigation. In this regard, the Department relies
upon uncharged conduct and activity that may be protected by the First Amendment,
FOIL, the collective bargaining agreement and other laws. Even though Respondent’s
defense has been aggressive. Department witnesses conceded that he has the right to defend fiimself against the charges and represent his members as Chapter Leader. ^
T. 551-552.

The Department also notes the amount of disruption that Respondent created at
I.S. 49. As discussed throughout this Opinion, the causes of the disruption are diverse
and, as Principal Hill recognized, are not all attributable to the misconduct by
Respondent.
Further, Respondent cannot be deemed irremediable because he publicized his
discipline, the 3020-a process in a contentious and public way. For the bulk of the
charged years there were no social media guidelines. The new guidelines, promulgated
in the spring of 2013, do not ban personal blogs and further state that they alone will not
be used for disciplinary purposes absent a showing of a violation of regulation, law or
policy. Despite the provocative nature of his postings and airing of his disciplinary
process, there has been no showing that the notoriety regarding his charges or
reassignment “seriously compromised his ability to retain the respect of students and to
be perceived as a responsible adult to whom they should pay attention.” See Matter of
Goldin v. Board of Ed. 45 A.D.2d 870 (1974).

The Department also contends that Respondent was disingenuous when he
testified that if returned to I.S. 49 he would work professionally and cooperatively with
Principal Hill. Yet as Respondent points out, there is not a single allegation that he was
ever rude, disrespectful or defiant to the Principal or any other administrator.^” On January 31, 2013, two weeks before these hearings concluded, Respondent had a
meeting with Pnncipal Hill with the Union Consultation Committee which he testified was
cordial and professional. T. 3377.

The Department also maintains that Respondent’s lack of remorse makes him
irremediable. It appears that Respondent became so consumed in his defense that he
was unable to reflect on how he may have contributed to his dilemma or how some of
his conduct affected I.S. 49. This is especially so, as Superintendent Claudio testified,
during the 2012-2013 school year when he was removed from I.S. 49, relieved of all
teaching responsibilities and had so much time to “stew” about what had happened. T.
549. Nonetheless, Respondent’s admissions, conduct, demeanor and demonstrated
commitment to education persuade me that, if given the chance, he can resume his
career as a highly effective educator.

Finally, the record is replete with evidence of Respondent’s exceptional teaching
and abilities from the administration, colleagues, parents and students. Only a few
months before things spiraled out of control, three administrators noted his significant
contributions to the school and highly recommended him to become an administrator.
Resp. Ex. 2. There was also testimony that Respondent worked collegially with other
teachers at I.S. 49 and volunteered his time to assist them with technological issues. T.
1779, 1921-1922. Many colleagues and parents testified regarding his dedication to
children and his ability to get “even the most troubled child’s attention and get them
interested in a lesson.” Given the challenging population of students at I.S. 49
this is no small feat. The unique attributes of this teacher, which the Department has
minimized, has many years ahead of him to provide a quality education to students and
make a difference in their lives. At the same time, Respondent, in his quest to defend
himself, lost sight of the fact that the Department is his employer, and not his enemy.

Notwithstanding the events of the last two years. Respondent must refocus his energies
on their shared mission of educating children.

After two years of reassignment, it is important that Respondent be returned to
the classroom. I have determined that the appropriate penalty for Respondent’s
misconduct is a substantial fine of $10,000.

—————

Thank you! Thank you again for your support. A big thank you to my lovely wife who had to raise our amazing boys and run the house in my physical and mental absence.

I will explain the $10,000 fine and specifications in more detail at a later time. Most of the 38 were dismissed and some smaller ones were sustained.

So I finally get to go back to Berta A. Dreyfus IS 49 to be a teacher to my students and chapter leader to my members!

When? Hopefully Monday. Yes, I know that they may still try to come after me, but that is my community school.

See email I sent to many:
———–
From: “Francesco Portelos” <fportelos@gmail.com>
Date: May 6, 2014 12:30 PM
Subject: Portelos 3020-a Decision and Return to IS 49
To: “Linda Hill” <lhill2@schools.nyc.gov>, “Jenkins Jessica (31R063)” <jjenkins2@schools.nyc.gov>, “jmckeon3@schools.nyc.gov” <jmckeon3@schools.nyc.gov>, “Zaharakis Despina” <dzahara@schools.nyc.gov>, “Thomas Fox” <tfox@schools.nyc.gov>, “JAguirre3@schools.nyc.gov” <jaguirre3@schools.nyc.gov>, “Denise Diacomanolis” <ddiacom@schools.nyc.gov>, “Anne Marie Martino” <amartino4@schools.nyc.gov>, “Mala Ruzi” <mruzi@schools.nyc.gov>, “Rodi Katherine G.” <krodi@schools.nyc.gov>, “Nacht Michele J” <mnacht@schools.nyc.gov>, <scampoamor@schools.nyc.gov>, “Fariña Carmen” <cgfarina@schools.nyc.gov>, “Ramirez Ursulina” <uramirez@schools.nyc.gov>, <lbrantley@schools.nyc.gov>, <teurope@schools.nyc.gov>, <eschlenoff@schools.nyc.gov>, “Brodsky David” <dbrodsky@schools.nyc.gov>, “Conyers Donald” <dconyer@schools.nyc.gov>, “Feijoo Laura” <lfeijoo@schools.nyc.gov>, <dgibson2@schools.nyc.gov>, <pweinbe1@schools.nyc.gov>, “RSinger4″ <rsinger4@schools.nyc.gov>, “Vazquez Marisol” <mvazquez16@schools.nyc.gov>, “Greenfield Robin” <rgreenf@schools.nyc.gov>, “Courtenaye Jackson-Chase” <cjackson-chase@schools.nyc.gov>, <tcooney@schools.nyc.gov>, <ksolimando@schools.nyc.gov>, “CEC31@schools.nyc.gov” <cec31@schools.nyc.gov>, “Phil Roberto” <proberto@schools.nyc.gov> Cc: “Sean Rotkowitz” <srotkowitz@uft.org>, “Debra Penny” <dpenny@uft.org>, “Adam Ross” <aross@uft.org>, “epietromonaco@uft.org” <epietromonaco@uft.org>, “mmulgrew@uft.org” <mmulgrew@uft.org>

Good afternoon,

I received the great news. After over 730 days, in educator exile, I will finally be reinstated and be returning back to educate the youth of IS 49. I look forward to it. I do however want to suggest that perhaps a meeting take place before I return. Perhaps some feel it is not necessary, however I am just making a suggestion.

When can I anticipate my official return? Perhaps we can arrange for a day or two of overlap with the substitute. I do also think it’s time to re-enable my DOE email and payroll access. It has been suspended since May 7, 2012.

Lastly, where does the $10,000 fine go? I was wondering if it could be allocated to IS 49’s Arts and Music program. Who can I speak to about that?

Sincerely,

Francesco Portelos
Parent
Educator
IS 49 UFT Chapter Leader
Educatorfightsback.org
DTOE.org

———

Don’t Tread on Me. Don’t Tread on Educators. One big point for teacher tenure around the country.

Neo Bullet Dodge

You missed!

[drop the mic]

 [UPDATE 5/9/14] DOE Won’t Throw in the Towel. I am now an ATR

and

Back to School – My First Days as an ATR

Also read my 3 part series on A Case for Tenure

A Case for Teacher Tenure Part 1 – The Dismissed Charges

A Case for Teacher Tenure Part 2 – Guilty…As Charged?

A Case For Teacher Tenure Part 3 – The Rest of the Charges

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrportelos

About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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60 Comments

  1. Michael Fiorillo

    Congratulations, Francesco!

    While the imposition of a large fine may seem to detract from your victory, that appearance should be disregarded, since it was given 1) as a face-saving concession to the DOE, and 2) so that the arbitrator could attempt to head off future reprisals/discontinuance from the DOE for a decision that is most definitely causing them to chew their livers.

    Good, may they choke on them!

    That someone whom they went so far as to conspire to have arrested on transparently bogus charges should be returned to the classroom is, in this day and age, a big victory for you and for all of us.

    Now, appeal the fine, and enjoy your vindication.

  2. Francesco…

    In legal terms… I’d call that a *massacre*.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case like this where the outcome was so utterly…… lopsided.

    The 10,000 fine is face-saving stuff for DOE and we can and should organize as a community to fundraise that. With *maximum* attendant publicity.

    But the real task is getting the new admin, including the new city council, to pay attention to what has been and continues to be going on inside DOE legal in NYC. And then FIX IT!

    I suggest public hearings by City Council Ed Committee to start with, wherein DOE brass can explain… or *try* to explain… why they brought this case in the first place.

    That could be…. *interesting*.

    You must feel great! Congratulations and thanks for seeing this through. Most people would have given up after they reassigned you to the rubber room on the other side of the city from the RR ten minutes from home.

    They didn’t know who they were dealing with. I doubt if they’ve figure it out even now.

    Paul

  3. Once in every generation the scorned underdog emerges victoriously against the powers that be -who used the full force of their enormous powers to crush the heroic voice of truth and justice. You not only achieved victory against the establishment, but redemption on the court of public opinion. Your perseverance and courage is an inspiration to every teacher.

    God bless you and your family.

    Yoni’s dad

  4. Congrats. So happy it ended well.

  5. AWESOME! This news could not come at a better time. This shows exactly how important tenure is. Your victory news should be shared with every teacher who is “thinking” about voting yes to the horrible new proposed contract. You are a true hero who stood up for all that is right in the teaching profession. If I ever bump into you in a bar, beers are on me!

  6. denise l. wright

    maybe you can ask the principal to pay it with the 5,000.00 she took from the title 1 money that she never produced receipts for in 2012 and probably the years before that. look in her stash, she has the money. she is a crook. I witnessed it myself. only thing she couldn’t get rid of me for speaking up and not agreeing with her. they should put more parents on and not teachers because the teachers are afraid to speak up due to losing their jobs. I wish you much luck. I hope she chokes on her the 5000.00 she took from title 1 when i was the title 1 rep. shame on Chubaka

  7. What are the fines on those that brought….this wreck on your life? Where is the justice in this… Where is your union?

    • Anony, the fine he has to pay has nothing to do with the union and everything to do with the DOE trying to save face for the all the money they spent in trying to get rid of an innocent teacher. It’s the mindset of, we lost but you’ll pay.

  8. Congratulations!!!!! I have followed whistleblowers for almost two decades and I can count on one hand – with fingers left – how many have succeeded. You are correct that they will harass you. Read David Pakter’s story. He got reinstated and they “got” him for bringing a plant to school and putting it the hall. We will have your back and the “we” is large because you fought so openly and valiantly unlike most who cower in fear and find themselves alone. This is wonderful news. Hope to celebrate with you one day!

  9. Congratulations on the Victory!!! Hoping for the same outcome for Amira Beatty!

  10. Wow! I’m so happy this finally has a “happy ending”. The fine is a bit steep (and unjustified) but now that you’ll have your job back you won’t have much time to continue with your legal battle so maybe just pay it and move on with your life.

    I’d still like to know what was in the envelope!

    WIshing you all the best!

  11. Congratulations !!!

  12. toolazyforalogin

    I’ve never met you in person but I’ve been following your story for the past two years. Congratulations don’t even put it into perspective for the atrocity you have been dealing with. Keep up the great work!

    You should also set up a paypal for donations.

  13. Dear Francesco Portelos:

    Obviously I share the great happiness of the multitude of your supporters and all fair minded people everywhere that the NYC Dept. of Education failed miserably in its determined, may I add, quite maniacal quest, (even to the point of seeing you spend a night in prison), to destroy your highly stellar career, cast dispersion on your good name, and a thousand other undeserved “slings and arrows” too numerous to list here.

    We all know, especially the many countless American Educators who have suffered the same Fate that befell you, and been made “to walk the same walk”, what you have suffered and been through these past years.

    Only those American Educators who have actually walked in your shoes, been exposed to the same horrific treatment you have been, and been forced to watch helplessly as all they had worked and slaved to build up, disintegrate into ruin, through no fault of their own, can have even the remotest idea of what such an experience takes out of a human being.

    And perhaps, most agonizingly painful of all is to be separated from one’s students and to feel and know every single day, as one struggles to survive in the “belly of the DOE Beast”, that Society’s most powerless and vulnerable citizens, its most socio-economically deprived and truly “at risk” youth, are being deprived and literally robbed of their one and only opportunity to break free from the bonds of poverty and have a better future life- all because of your removal from their midst.

    Knowing, from my own first hand experience, what you have been through, can I really say at this moment I feel a sense of the same “happiness” stated and so jubilantly expressed by so many here.

    What is there to really be happy about I ask? At least- in the larger sense after all that you endured.

    In your particular case there was never a snow ball’s chance in Hell that anyone could actually succeed in terminating an individual with your credentials and many past stellar and well recognized achievements in the field of Education, based upon the clearly knowingly concocted and pitifully transparent and embarrassingly fraudulent charges and Official Specifications that were viciously leveled against you.

    Thus, from day one it was obvious, at least for those among us who have been forced to go through your recent experience, that the most the NYC DOE could do to you, after so grievously punishing both you and your innocent students, was to at most order you to pay a Fine and level the “Penalty” of an unpaid Temporary Suspension/Leave, from your Teaching position.

    As I read the State Hearing Officer’s Official Decision in your case, and noted the same old tired mealy mouthed phrases I had read in my own and so many other Education case Decisions, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach that is impossible to express in words.

    In particular the paragraph that contained the words:

    “At the same time, Respondent, in his quest to defend himself, lost sight of the fact that the Department is his employer, and not his enemy.”

    Really ??? “Not his enemy” ???

    I could scarcely believe the individual who wrote this Decision could insert those words and keep a straight face.

    Only those American Educators who have been forced to work under and be exposed to, and be “supervised” and indeed “controlled”, by such failed human beings as you were forced to work under, can really understand what it is like to have one’s entire career put at the mercy of truly deviant, sadistic, clinically pathological specimens of humanity who have such power over the lives of the everyday American classroom Teacher.

    These so-called “Supervisors”, from the earliest moments in their pitiful careers, become the official lackeys, the hatchet people, the official enforcers, the “Gestapo” like Storm Troopers, of Educational systems, throughout America.

    They understand from early on that their prime function is to enforce the often malevolent decisions and often illegal and vicious whims of their own “superiors” in the endless top down controlled “Hierarchy” that comprises vast multi-billion dollar Educational systems in the United States.

    There is virtually no act, however immoral or illegal, these “Supervisor” functionaries will not sink to and resort to, when so ordered, or even when not necessarily officially ordered, to destroy a Teacher who has the temerity to become a Whistle-blower and expose criminal behavior that is injurious to the welfare of his or her students in America’s public schools.

    In some instances this means reporting the theft of tax payer dollars by individuals in one’s school, often one’s own so-called Supervisors. To report corruption in the New York City Dept. of Education, I myself personally learned, and at an inordinately high cost, is to write one’s own Death Sentence. It is a “career ender”.

    I shall never forget that the first time I went to the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigations for the New York City School District , there was a large sign, prominently exhibited in the Waiting Room that stated:

    “If you are employed by the State and/or City of New York, you are obligated to report Corruption”. In fact the “employee” is warned that NOT to report known and personally Witnessed corruption constitutes a crime in itself.

    Indeed the first visit I ever made to that Office was of my own volition and choice and in fact at the start of that first meeting, I insisted that every word of my Testimony be tape recorded. I very naively believed that would protect me in the future.

    How long ago that was and how very far away and how very unreal, indeed almost surrealistic, it all seems now. But I was naïve then and believed in such things as the “Rule of Law” and the so-called machinery of “Justice”.

    I learned quickly after that day, so very long ago, that there is no such thing as the “Rule of Law” in the New York City Dept. of Education nor is one anything less than foolish to think there exists such a thing as Justice.

    For those who believe that Mr. Portelos has achieved some sort of great Victory, I say the following- and it pains me grievously to say these words.

    As I began to read the “Penalty” section of the State Hearing Officer’s Decision, and noted that many good, even highly flattering things were being said of Mr. Portelos and his many stellar achievements and contributions made to his school and students, it seemed for just a brief moment, for just one fleeting, shining iota of a second, that perhaps, his State Hearing Officer would be like the Arbitrator in my Second Trial who through out virtually all the knowingly bogus Specifications leveled against me for two years. It was indeed an Historic Victory for a New York Teacher.

    That was a distinct change from my first State Education Trial in which the Hearing officer, despite noting my many achievements and contributions, fined me $ 15,000, (Fifteen Thousand Dollars)- anyway.

    Of course that first State Hearing Officer who fined me $ 15,000, is still sitting in Judgment over accused Teachers, opining on their ultimate Fates, whilst the universally highly respected individual who fully Exonerated me and Vindicated me of all the knowingly fraudulent charges made against me was summarily discharged after my second State Education Trial ended.

    But once again, as I read the Decision in the case of Mr. Portelos, it appeared that maybe we had turned a corner, with a new Mayor and a new Education Chancellor, and that we were starting to witness a new era in the world of the New York City School system and how it treated, valued and respected those tens of thousands of selfless, hardworking, endlessly dedicated Educators who have made educating New York City’s, mostly Minority, mostly socio-economically disadvantaged, at risk children, their life’s cause and their ” Raison d’être”.

    But as my eyes raced ahead, as I read the final words of the Decision in the case of Francesco Portelos, waiting to encounter the words, “Exonerate”, and “Vindicate” and “We believe Mr. Portelos is owed an apology”, I instead encountered little snide comments, on the part of the Hearing Officer, undeserved, underhanded aspersions and then wham, that final, and totally unexpected, at least by, in retrospect, naïve me, statement:

    “I have determined that the appropriate penalty for Respondent’s MISCONDUCT (emphasis added) is a substantial fine of $10,000.”

    So there we have it readers. “Welcome the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss”.

    And yet some are celebrating what they perceive to be a great and glorious Victory.

    An innocent man was put through psychological and yes- physical Hell, as the human body absolutely, eventually suffers what the mind suffers.

    He was removed from his position without true “due process” or real “legal justification” , made to suffer untold, countless humiliations, for over two years, including having to spend the night and sleep on the crowded floor of a NYC Jail cell and then the “Coups de Grace” is that Mr. Portelos is ordered to pay a “Fine” of $ 15,000. for the “crime” of doing the Right Thing the Legally Mandated and required action, of reporting corruption he had personally witnessed and the theft of Tax Payer dollars.

    If one can see this final Chapter in the story of Mr. Francesco Portelos as a “Victory” as opposed to the nightmarish finale of a tale of human injustice perpetrated on a mind boggleling, even Biblical scale, I do not know what to say.

    For me the news of the end of Francesco’s long ordeal represents the dashing of all the hopes of all of America’s Teachers to live and work in an atmosphere of civility where they are valued and respected and treated with the greatest appreciation, not vilification, when they step forward to report a crime and/or suggest something could perhaps, be done in a better way- instead of simply choosing the far easier route of “going along to get along”.

    Teachers in America may one day work in an Educational System that operates with a fair degree of Justice and Morality and Ethics. Where there does not exist what is called Whistle-blower Retaliation.

    But what was done to Mr. Francesco Portelos, his Family and his students, will forever remain as a Cancerous blight and an ignominious stain on the face of Public Education in America.

    In every conceivable way, from any manner of thinking, Francesco Portelos, a good and decent man, has been the victim of a dastardly Crime perpetrated by the Twenty Three Billion dollar New York City Dept. of Education.

    To recount all the names of the number of knowing conspirators comprised in that Crime, who, with malevolent and reckless intent and forethought conspired to destroy the career of an innocent human being, would require more space than is available here.

    It is called, and for very good reason: “WHITE CHALK CRIME”

    And Mr. Francesco Portelos, a former Engineer and highly Decorated Educator, became a victim of “White Chalk Crime”.

    And nothing that transpires now, either in the immediate, nor most distant future, will ever be able to adequately compensate, nor make whole, this innocent man for what was done to him and the undeserved Evil that was so cruelly visited upon him.

    There may be some force in this Universe that might see fit to somehow forgive those who were responsible for what was done to Francesco Portelos as well as his Wife and children and his countless students.

    But that Forgiveness will have to come from a Higher source than myself.

    (Please see : “White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail: Untold story of crime that has destroyed our schools and how teacher abuse and teacher cleansing have kept this from you [Paperback] by Karen Horwitz. ) available -Amazon Books

    David Pakter, M.A., M.F.A.

    http://www.OldMasterPortraits.com

    Paris, France

    Former NYC Educator,

    (Decorated as “Teacher of the Year”
    for Exceptional Achievement
    by the Hon. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani )

  14. Richard Reuther

    I’m on the other side of the country but feel good for this. Congrats.

  15. Congratulations on your victory and walk tall when you go into school next week! And it was great to finally meet you at the DA. (I was the one who was standing at the escalator handing out flyers when you came off)

  16. Congrats, Francesco!

  17. Zulma, NYC retired math teacher

    Finally, you allowed to teach to the kids you miss on a daily basis! It’s a victory that you are back in the classroom. It’s a victory for the kids to finally have a great teacher like you in their presence. It’s a victory that the DoE was unable to terminate you. It’s a victory that your principal was not able to get rid of you. It’s a victory that you exposed your principal to her unethical thief of service with her per session. It’s a victory to know that you endured the barrage of allegations thrown at you from all angles.

    But, I will not accept the fact that they fined you $10,000 (Iris Blige – the corrupt principal in the Bronx that forced APs to write up and u-rate teachers was only fined $7500 and she was making $140,000 a year) because you spoke the truth.

    I’m happy for you. Your victory is our victory. But, fight that damn $10,000 fine!

  18. While I am happy you will retutrn to school, I cannot abide this ruling. The ten grabd is punitive and unjusr. Also .the judge never addresses the comportment of the admin whose misconduct was far more egregious. Youre being punished because you got defensive . Who wouldnt be ? How can you react when you were railroaded because you stumbled across criminal activiity. Why isnt this being cinsidered? Is it okay for administrators to help themselves to whatever they want and to abuse their power in ways that are worthy of a RiCO charge? These people are the enemy! They put you in jail for fuckery’s sake .
    I am glad you’re happy, and you’re right, too many of us have been ruined so your case is a step in right direction, I guess. Here in LA they dont fine us. They just steal our miney and say we owe it to them because we wete overpaid. Problem is they can’t tell us when or why thus. Hapoened . I have been settled a year and a half and they had taken about $10 k durung my last two years . Today I get letter saying I owe them almost $8k. No judgement , no explanatoon. This is widespread and teachers who resist are being fired. My credit was ruined by the ordeal and i cant pay my student loans. I do not feel like I owe that money since my education has been exploited and denegraded . I will die in debt and i dont care. Money means everything to them. It means nothing to me. What matters is truth and justice . You did not get either but at least you get to go back to the kids and teach them what matters.

  19. I am thrilled for you, and for all the students you will be teaching in the years ahead!

  20. Francesco,

    I am very pleased for you and your family. As a fellow targeted teacher who has been at this for over 4 years, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to remain vigilant, since the bullies who went after you don’t like to lose and have been know to wait a little and then hit you with more charges, since they face no consequences legally for so doing.

    I smile at you from L.A. L.A. land,

    Lenny

  21. Congrats on your return from a fellow teacher in L.A. area. While the fine is a slap in your face, it is small compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars involved in the case. As someone else posted, if you set up a paypal, I’m sure unions and individuals would contribute. Count me in for $20.

    • Thank you for your support John.

    • I like that idea of Francesco starting a fund for other teachers and parents to donate to pay the bogus fine. Even if people donate $5 each, it shows teachers and parents coming together, something they rarely do when up against these White Chalk Criminals. Bottom line is it is all about power and right now all the power is in their hands. But the more teachers and parents come together, the power will shift. What Francesco did he did for children. Parents need to have his back! I will get the link to parents I know who get what we need to do to shift power. Meanwhile Francesco, you need a piece leading into the request for donations that explains what you did as a protector of children. We must teach parents to back us, not the White Chalk Criminals as they do now. Even if people donate $1, or less, it is important that they connect to the job that needs to be done – outing the White Chalk Criminals who have successfully placed the blame on teachers when THEY are destroying our schools! I will help you with this if you agree.

  22. Congratulations. Those who brought and pursued this bogus case? It should be their turn now to worry about their jobs.

  23. Congrats on your victory, but between you and I the education mafia has shaken us down for the tune of $25,000. Meanwhile, I’ll bet that the sex in the office principal will get away with a slap on the wrist.

  24. Leeana Koznesoff

    Congratulations Francesco Portelos! I have been following your case for two years.
    Your hard work has restored a certain degree of integrity back to our profession. I
    hope this case begins a journey of retribution to help the many innocent teachers who have been victimized with false allegations in an attempt to destroy their careers. (All of this misconduct for reasons having nothing to do with pedagogy). There is no room for unethical behavior from Administrators that are in control of our future leaders/ children. My prayers were answered! Your students will get their passionate teacher back! Say a prayer that I maintain the same perseverance as you to continue my fight as well. I was targeted three years ago. God Bless and continue to educate our children. STEM rocks!!!! :)

    Sincerely,
    Leeana koznesoff

  25. Lynne Winderbaum

    Congratulations, Francesco! Long road. Who will go after abusive principals? Well, one step at a time. Savor this one for a while!

  26. I also think you should start a PayPal fund to help with the $10.000 and other fees you incurred. I will pledge $20 as well. And now that I’m thinking about all this, another suggestion is to collaborate with other well-known blog owners to set up a general fund to help teachers in need. I realize it would involve time to administer, but if the fund grew big enough that wouldn’t be a problem. Perhaps teachers could even leave a portion to the fund from their wills. All kinds if people could contribute for this good cause. Maybe there should be a link set up on these blogs to lead people to the same fund for helping. In any case, I ‘m in.

  27. CONGRATULATIONS MR. P.!!!!! I am so happy for you! The $10,000 fine stinks. I think you should set up a Go Fund Me site – let me know and I will contribute! It is good to know that justice prevails. Watch your back when you get there. All the best to you and your family,

  28. The substantiated charges and hefty 10K fine will doubtlessly be touted by DOE as a ‘victory’ and as evidentiary proof the charges were not born of retaliatory animus. The DOE will eagerly take the money and will not put you back in the same building – especially since you want to be back in the same building. I am afraid you may be looking at permanent ATR status. Best of luck in any case – it is nearly impossible to escape unscathed – the arbitrator could have hit you with a far smaller fine but did you no favor.

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  30. Emmanuel Theodorakis

    Congratulations Mr Portelos. Keep an eye open, shenanigans like this tend to come back. Stay strong and keep going. Keep that stem lab going. I am a big supporter of science especially since I have a BS in Biochemistry, and understand and appreciate the importance of fields like this and Engineering especially. I used to sub-teach for NYCBOE, but have moved on and am pursuing medicine.

    All the Best, one of your supporters

  31. Congrats Mr.Portelos, in my short time having you as a teacher and a mentor in the classroom and out of it during robotics, you were the best. Its a shame this battle lasted for so long, but with your courage and strength, you were able to come out on top. I wish you the best and hope your the inspiration will be passed onto otherss as it did for me.

    2008 graduate from I.S.49

  32. alain christian

    Congrats.Mr portelos.wish we
    were still there.you are a great teacher learned mAny things from you.

  33. Wow I am so thrilled. Congrats Mr. Portelos :) after seeing you leave 2 years ago, I am positive that you will teach the students at is49 as amazing as u taught us (720) when you were my teacher!

  34. Congratulations! I hope your new students appreciate you in the classroom as much as our class (of 2010) did. In an age of innovation, we need fantastic teachers like yourself and it’s hard to imagine that two years worth of students didn’t have the advantage of learning Google SketchUp, Audacity, Pivot…

    Nevertheless, you’re back in the classroom and words can’t express how wonderful that is.

  35. I just saw news of your victory on Diane Ravitch’s blog! Congratulations! You gave it to ‘em but good!

  36. Charles S. Giannone

    TI KANIS AND CONGRATS~~~~~

  37. P R A Y E R F O R P O R T E L O S–Say these words and you will be protected by HIM AND SAINT MICHAEL: THE LORD IS MY LIFE MY SALVATION. WHOM SHALL I FEAR? THE LORD IS THE STRENGTH IN MY LIFE OF WHOM SHALL I BE AFRAID? WHEN THE WICKED, EVEN MINE ENEMIES AND MY FOES CAME UPON ME TO EAT UP MY FLESH THEY STUMBLED AND FELL. THOUGH UNHOST SHOULD CAMP AGAINST ME, MY HEART SHALL NOT FEAR. THE WALL SHOULD RISE UP AGAINST ME. IN THIS SHALL I BE COMFORTED.

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