Five years ago today, on January 30, 2012, I was summoned to my first two disciplinary meetings and had the first three investigations initiated against me. Yes, all in one day. A week later, another investigation was added and two weeks later a third disciplinary conference. That was just the beginning.
You can read more about the crazy timeline that lead to over thirty investigations against me here on protecportelos.org/the-story. There were very aggressive attack on me, and my career, after I lodged complaints regarding financial misconduct and law violations at my school. I contacted the NYC Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) on January 26, 2012, prior to all this. Instead of questioning me about Principal Linda Hill’s double dipping, the city agency sent investigators to investigate me and eventually plant files on my computer. All this is documented here in a segment I call “Investigating the Investigators.” See protectportelos.org/sci-files.
In February 2012, after I attempted to “play dead” and stay quiet, it became very apparent that this was going to be a fight to the death. I was outnumbered and had no backing from the UFT union leadership. So, on the day investigators came to my classroom, took computers while my class was dismissing, and came to my house to confiscate more computers, I made a decision. That decisions was to take this fight from the classroom, to the streets and turn on the cameras. “We are going public!” If I am going to go down, the cameras will be rolling as I fight back.
I took all the positive accolades I had received in my five years at IS 49, all the sudden negative, and wrote a little summary. I put all that on a website I bought called “ProtectPortelos.org” I thought it had a nice ring to it. I naively gave it that self-centered name because I thought I was the only one going through this. I did not know, and couldn’t fathom at that time, that these attacks on educators, and whistleblowers, were rampant across the city and this country.
As time progressed, the shield, protectportelos.org, evolved into a sword. It began representing great push back and I was exposing not just my thieving principal, Linda Hill, but also the many high level employees that helped cover up her malfeasance.
This included, but was not limited to:
Superintendent Erminia Claudio, Superintendent Donald Conyers and Senior Superintendent Laura Feijoo.
Deputy Chancellors David Weiner and Dorita Gibson
Chancellor Walcott and Chancellor Farina
DOE Directors Lawrence Becker, Andrew Gordon, Edward Schlenoff, Katherine Rodi, David Brodsky, Karen Solimando
DOE attorneys Marisol Vazquez, Judy Nathan, Courtenaye Jackson-Chase, Robin Singer, Robin Greenfield, Tracy Cooney, Laura Brantley and Theresa Europe.
Sometimes you have to use the shield and sometimes the sword. As my site was being visited by many, and I was flooded with messages from other teachers under attack, I realized it was too late to change the name though. Changing the name would effectively lose the links people were sharing. It also became very apparent that my site had registered very high on Google’s Search Engine. For example former DOE Chief Information Officer Hal Friedlander had a part in my false arrest. Go ahead and search the name Hal Friedlander on Google or click here: https://www.google.com/search?q=hal+friedlander&oq=hal+friedlander See which site comes up in the top 5. This test can be repeated for many, many of the people I mentioned above.
Also, as time passed, I began creating other sites and groups. Followers of this Protect Portelos site will notice I haven’t been writing here as much. Instead I have been writing on UFTSolidarity.org, the union caucus I have helped start. In addition I add to atralliance.org to help support the many union members excessed from their permanent position.
But now, it is time I lay down this shield, that helped me stay in the classroom. As I write this, during lunch from one of the many classrooms that DOE sends me to, I share that after 38 trumped-up investigations, disciplinary letters and falsified unsatisfactory observations, I continue to teach. They shot (a lot) and missed. It’s time I shut down Protectportelos.org, make some administrative coding changes and have it resurface as the new, and broader educatorfightsback.org
All the previous information will be archived, and still accessible, but the focus will be on sharing information for others to fight back. I would also like to share the fight other educators are going to and how they swing their own swords. Judging by the messages I continue to receive from the West coast to the East coast, it seems there is no sign of the attacks slowing down.
Stay tuned for an improved site coming up in the next few weeks. I found a way to keep the Google Search Optimization for all my old links and will be transferring everything over. In the meantime, if you need tips on fighting back check out the plethora of information on uftsolidairty.org/toolbox . If you need legal help here in NYC or the surrounding area, you can contact the Teacher’s Lawyer, Bryan Glass, Esq. at GHNYLaw.com