When an educator in NYC is reassigned from their position, pending very, very slow investigations, they go to the Rubber Room Hub first. That hub is room 1201 of 49-51 Chambers Street, NY, NY.
There you first meet the receptionist, Dr. CY, who has you sign in and then gives you some ground rules. “No Charging of cell phones, laptops in any outlet -including the halls and bathroom” Not only is your career pulled out from under you, but you may not use any of the DOE’s kilowatts so you can contact your union, family, friends or attorneys. By the way the average smartphone uses about 2.52 x 10^-3 kWh per charge or 0.00252 kWh. At an average of 18 cents per kilowatt-hour for supply and delivery we are talking about pennies. Is it really about the money or just more punishment?
“You can sleep, but you can’t disrupt the rest of the people.” was something they actually said to someone who fell asleep and was snoring. Although I was there only half a day on April 26,2012, I did not sleep, but I was getting low on my battery.
You might be thinking “Wait, I’m a taxpayer and I’m paying these educators to sleep at $75,000-$150,000 to sleep?” I am not condoning it, but you try sitting in the same seat for 7 hrs and a day, with your eyes open and a dead phone. Keep in mind you probably do not know what’s going on or why you are there which adds to the mental stress.
In any case, you sit there for a day or a week, while office Administrator Michele Nacht calls around to see where to place you pending your investigation. While I sat there, 595 days ago, Michelle Nacht called my principal while her door was open. I guess she did not know I was sitting there.
Michele: “Hi Linda, it’s Michele. (pause) Good. How are you? (pause) Ok, the teacher was given the letter? (pause) Any problems? (pause) Did he go up to his room to get his things? (pause) Oh OK, I’ll wait for him here. (pause) yeah I- (pause) No Problem. I will take care of it. (pause) OK. Take care.”
(I’m only slightly paraphrasing from memory.)
Michele comes out and Dr. CY informs her that I was there. She calls me in to her small office and opens a manila folder with my name on it. “What’s this about?” I ask. “I really can’t give you any information.” she replies. She then excused herself to get a fax or something. I was left alone with my file that had “Non-Arrest” written on it.
I quickly grabbed my phone, switched to video and started recording all the papers in the manila folder. I was flipping through them quickly, but slowly enough so I can extract still images later to read. I heard her coming back and put everything back the way it was. “Pheww.. that was close.” I thought. I’m not made for this secret agent stuff and was sweating profusely.
She states the following- “Mr. Portelos, you are being reassigned pending one or more investigations. You are to be assigned to your network office, but that is all the way in Rockaway and I am not going to do that to you. Instead you will report to Kristine Broschart at the Petrides Center in Staten Island. You can grab a lunch now and be there as soon as you can. Take this letter with you, but sign it first.”
Funny, because back then I had no idea what a school network was or who it was. She was not really doing me a favor, but really complying with Chancellor’s Regulation C-770. That reg basically states that reassigned employees must be assigned to their own district. My district is 31 (Staten Island).
You can read more about what happened next here:
If you do not have time to read it, I’ll give you the quick run down. Former Superintendent Erminia Claudio and Deputy Network Leader Greg Bowen, who is also building manager at Petrides, did not want me there. Claudio was extremely involved in my case, and that might have lead to her unexpected retirement a year later. Being that I was extremely cordial to my supervisor at Petrides and followed the rules they had to just make up things and give Michele a reason to violate CR C-770.
See below email from Michele Nacht to her former boss, HR Executive Director Andrew Gordon.
Babysit? Wanderer? Recording video of alleged misconduct? Hacking?
I opened False Accusation cases (violation of NYC Charter Section 1116) on Andrew Gordon (2012-4638R/OGC), Erminia Claudio and Greg Bowen (2013-3720 R-OSI). They were all referred to DOE’s OSI. Without ever being contacted by the Office of Special Investigations, Director Candace McLaren and Deputy Director Christopher Dalton “administratively closed” them.
In any case back to the violations of CR C-770. In my case Michele Nacht sent me 6 districts, two boroughs and 20 miles away. What bothers me even more is that Michele Nacht, under the supervision of Katherin Rodi, continues policy with other educators.
Due to this blog and my name being spread around, I am being contacted by more and more educators in need. Some still in the classroom, looking over their shoulder and some already reassigned. My heart goes out to them and I spend a lot of time trying to guide them, so they are in a better situate than I am in.
One teacher told me he lived in Long Island, worked at a school in Queens and Michele Nacht sent him to a reassignment center in Manhattan. Why? Why not? She can. So what he could grieve. He gets denied and then waits a year for an arbitration. The poor guy wound up missing his physical therapy sessions, because he couldn’t make it in time.
Our very own South Bronx Blogger www.southbronxschool.com was recently sent our of his district and reassigned. Two other teachers in his school were reassigned, but kept in the actual school.
When educators try diplomacy with Ms. Nacht, before the long dead end grievance process, she sometimes snaps back at them. “There is no room at the location you want! I have room in Staten Island…you want me to send you there??” she threatened a teacher from the Bronx. No room? Didn’t Mayor Bloomberg, UFT President Michael Mulgrew do away with the Rubber Rooms in 2010?
Last week I arrived at my hearing at 49-52 Chamber Street early. Being that my access to payroll has been suspended for over a year and a half, I decided to see if I can get it from the reassignment team at room 1201. I walked in and told Dr. CY I needed my Cybershift sheets to cross reference with my days out for hearings. She instructed me to go and wait in a room. I walk in to a 12′x12′ room with chairs placed around the perimeter. In there I saw 5 educators sitting quietly. Two were reading and the other three gazing out the window or ceiling. I sat quietly and thought to myself … “Fresh Fish.” I of course do not know their stories, but know that their rights will probably be violated. The breakdown was two older caucasian males, one younger minority male and two younger minority females. When we speak about the bigger picture of this educator exile, we often agree that it is veteran and minority teachers that are targeted. Well, the demographics of that room fit that theory perfectly.
Out of nowhere I just spoke up and woke the crowd up. “Reassigned teachers?” They looked at me and all of sudden in twenty five seconds flat I gave them the low down of what I have gone through and what they are going to go through. Michele Nacht came in and told me she would give me the documents I want and I left to go to my hearing.
Yesterday another teacher called me and told me they have her traveling over an hour and far from her district as well. I thought to share and spotlight the poor and cruel practices that come out of Room 1201 and are condoned by Human Resources Lawrence Becker, Katherine Rodi, Office of Labor Relations and Tweed’s General Counsel? You would think this wasn’t happening in the United States, but actually it’s happening right here in NYC.
I sent an email to Ms. Nacht and basically asked her to stop doing this to our educators. I copied the UFT and others. No response.
From: Francesco Portelos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Dec 10, 2013
Subject: CR C-770 Violations
To: Nacht Michele J <email@example.com>
Cc: “Rodi Katherine G.” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, ESchlenoff@schools.nyc.gov, Amy Arundell <email@example.com>, Leroy Barr <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
Good morning Ms. Nacht,
I hope all is well. Just so you are aware, I receive about four to five calls a week from teachers who are targeted and or have been reassigned. That’s four to five NEW educators a week. I assume they do a little searching on the internet and somehow come across my website.
It deeply troubles me when I hear that you continue to move people outside of their district in violation of CR 770. It deeply troubles me, because I know first hand the burden on family life and financially. You don’t seem to care at all and that’s not good Ms. Nacht.
May I ask what protocol or policy you follow when you decide to move someone out of their district or keep them in their district? Is it a preference based on what the principal requests? Is the principal saying in some cases “Hey make life a living hell for this person and send them farther away.”
My next question is if you enjoy doing this? You move people around, corralling and herding educators. You are part of a problem. You are part of a broken system. I just don’t know if you are directed to do this, or you just get a kick out of it.
Reading the emails where you were involved in reassigning me six districts away, YOU made the decision. I posted them here in my article http://protectportelos.org/
May I suggest you stop this bad practice of hurting my colleagues? Stop for no other reason other than it’s wrong.
I was serious when I asked what procedure you follow, or is it just arbitrary and capricious?
“In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
In some defense to Ms. Nacht, some reassigned teachers tell me she placed them out of their district, but much closer to home. That’s good, but only reinforces the idea that it’s arbitrary and her choice. Ms. Nacht and others involved…stop.
One teacher emailed me for the first time, while they were actually in room 1201.
I was reassigned two days ago have been sitting in a room in Manhattan. I found your website and see you have gone through this. Any insight?”
After some back and forth, they sent me this shaky picture with caption “You mean her?”
“Yeah, that’s her.” I responded. “Make sure she puts you in your district.”
PS: I was kidding about video filming my file.
See also Chaz’s Post about the same exact violations here: http://chaz11.blogspot.com/2013/12/why-does-doe-violate-chancelors.html