First, I know I am not writing as much as I used to, but trust me there is a lot to write about. I have converted my time from writing into action and been putting in a lot of work with others to build UFT Solidarity Caucus (our faction within the UFT), Don’t Tread on Educators and the ATR Alliance.
Onto to the mystery of my official personnel file, it’s divide and potential fusion.
Article Twenty One of the UFT Contract states that we should have one official personnel file.
The UFT sends out literature indicating:
“Every UFT member has an official school file. There is only one official school file. Any additional folders, notes or critiques cannot be used as official records against the employee. This file may contain an employee’s observation reports, annual evaluation sheets, licensing information, salary documents, and in certain cases, disciplinary material.
No material derogatory to a teacher’s conduct, service, character or personality shall be placed in the files unless the teacher has had an opportunity to read the material. The teacher shall acknowledge that he/she has read the material by affixing his/her signature to the letter. Signing this material does not signify guilt or agreement with the letter. The employee’s signature is simply to acknowledge that he/she has received and read the document.
You have the right to respond to any disciplinary letter in your file. Your response will be attached to the filed copy. (Be sure to consult your chapter or district representative before attaching your response.) Upon appropriate request, an employee shall be permitted to examine and copy all of the documentation in his/her file. Letters to the file will be permanently removed from the employee’s file three (3) years after the latest incident referred to in the letter, provided disciplinary charges do not follow. An incident which has not been reduced to writing within three months of its occurrence, exclusive of the summer vacation period, cannot later be added to the file.“
As you may have read earlier in the school year, I received two (2) unsatisfactory observations in just the first 9 days of school while teaching at IS 34 in Staten Island. Unsatisfactory Teacher Series
I requested any emails to and from Principal John Boyle and Field Supervisor Edele Williams with the name “Portelos” in it. Would you be surprised to find that some emails were withheld because they contained attorney-client privilege? Now why would the principal and field supervisor be communicating with attorneys about me?
In any case, to prepare for a possible year-end rating of Unsatisfactory, I thought I would review my file.
I first asked the ATR Office who sent this response:
“From: Choi Min
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2014 10:08 AM
To: Portelos Francesco (31R049)
Subject: RE: Personnel Files
Good Morning Mr. Portelos,
Sorry for the delay. We do not have your personnel files. Our office do not maintain personnel files.
for ATR Human Resources
Office of Teacher Recruitment
P – 718-935-3425
F – 718-935-2611”
Then I contacted my former principal, Linda Hill. She does not respond for a week and when I tell her I will stop by to review, I am suddenly emailed that a copy will be made and sent to me. 😉
I received it and nothing new was added since I was made an ATR in May 2014.
I then emailed IS 34 and the secretary sends me a file that includes my attendance and my bogus unsatisfactory observation. No sign of my Plan of Assistance and U Observation from Field Supervisor Edele Williams.
I have since visited about 5 schools and have accumulated some sort of files for attendance or other personnel related documents. I believe that just like Johnny Appleseed, I leave a manila folder at ever school I visit. This appears to be a violation of the contract and frankly, I do not know if any other ATR has fought this before. (good idea making me an ATR by the way.)
Finally, I email the top honchos at the ATR and HR offices of the DOE, including Chief Executive Director Lawrence Becker. (Can you believe Chancellor Farina has kept him after his many years with the Bloomberg Klein administration? What does he do anyway?)
“From: “Francesco Portelos” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Jan 13, 2015 2:44 PM
Subject: Meeting to review my file
To: “Way Amy” <AWay@schools.nyc.gov>, “Esquilin Adriane” <AEsquilin@schools.nyc.gov>, “Becker Lawrence” <email@example.com>
Cc: “Amy Arundell” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Debra Penny” <email@example.com>
I’m requesting a date, time and place where I can review my official personnel file. As per the UFT and contract, there should be only one official file.
Francesco A. Portelos”
No Response of course, so I filed a grievance and urge all ATRs to do the same using UFT Solidarity Caucus’ How To Page
“From: Francesco Portelos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 12:14 AM
Subject: Step 1 Grievance to review personnel file
To: Way Amy <AWay@schools.nyc.gov>
Cc: Becker Lawrence <email@example.com>, Choi Min <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Rodi Katherine G.” <email@example.com>, Amy Arundell <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Debra Penny <email@example.com>, Sean Rotkowitz <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ellen Procida <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, Matt Kirwan <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mark Ryan <email@example.com>
Dear Ms. Way,
Since you did not respond to my request to review my official personnel file, the ATR office has indicated that they don’t know where my file is, my field supervisor won’t respond to my emails asking where she placed my bogus unsatisfactory gotcha observation and one school gave me partial of one file and another partial of another, please see attached grievance I am filing.
Francesco A. Portelos“
I received an email from the UFT stating that an attempt is being made to fuse my files together. My goal is to have in front of me a set of documents, in one folder (location) that can be potentially used against me and then fire back. Otherwise I get a U for the year and I am forced to expose the Office of Appeals and Review.
By the way, take a look at the comments being left about the 30+ Field Supervisors assigned to ATRs.
The other day I spoke to a 69 year old ATR that was being bullied and harassed by Field Supervisors James Quail, Ayo Mendez and Annelisse Falzone. I hope that when I am assigned a field supervisor again, that those three are assigned to me. I may be in need of their support.