Friday, April 18, 2014

Retaliation 101

So much for teachers having "lifetime employment."

As I have mentioned many times on this blog, school district administrators have all kinds of ways to get rid of teachers they don't want. It's laughably easy for them. Of course "peer assistance reviews," or "Track IIIs" or "focused assistance programs," or whatever a school district calls these programs are used as a last step before firing teachers. They aren't used to "improve" a teacher's "performance" but to scapegoat them out of a job and out of a career. They hope to terrify teachers into quitting since they are repeatedly stressed out over being evaluated. One "false move" and they are out the door. These last-ditch evals just give districts documentation that they can use if necessary if they have to go to those joke administrative hearings.

Yours truly was retaliated against by a batshit crazy principal who was at Sparks Middle School before he was demoted for sexual misconduct (should have been fired). He wrote a long laundry list of irrelevant crap because I didn't give him two weeks' notice I was walking my class to the store a block or two away to get ingredients to make ice cream. This was about two weeks before the end of the school year. It had all been pre-scheduled, but he didn't care because he wanted to be notified. Son of a bitch retaliated, and this was among several instances of retaliation by him including using parents against me and singling me out to submit lesson plans for him (nobody else had to) because I refused to cheat for him regarding the alternate testing, so he used this petty complaint to write his screed and force me into a "hearing" with him, his boss, and the corrupt "union" executive director. So I went through this bullshit and had this admonition in my file that said I was supposed to be on a "Track III" plan, a plan that I never saw until five years later (long after I was dumped by WCSD) and had NO relevance to his bogus charges and shouldn't have had to go on one (these plans focus only on classroom teaching); had two days' pay deducted, which never happened; and I forget what else, but it wasn't done, either. I could have fought it, I suppose, but I had other more important things to do that summer plus I was leaving that school anyway (I had no idea the district could use this document as a baseball bat to kill my teaching career). IN OTHER WORDS, THE DISTRICT DIDN'T DO ONE GODDAMNED THING IT WAS SUPPOSED TO DO ON MY BEHALF when I demanded to be moved out of that school. At that point I was not allowed to pick the school where I wanted to work but was switched with an administrator's wife from another school where there were also problems, this time with the complete lack of leadership on the part of the principal. She was one of those principals who employed the "good cop/bad cop" system of supervision. She'd have her useful idiots like her speech pathologist do her dirty work while she would pretend to be above the fray. However, I was dumped into this school despite being warned by others. Worse still, the principal was a total incompetent and decided she didn't have to implement the admonition with the "Track III" nonsense. She figured we'd start from a "clean slate." Because it was never implemented, the admonition should not have been in my file since the 90-day limit when it could be implemented had passed (naturally WEA didn't tell me about this, either). HR, however, had other ideas, and they assumed she had implemented the Track III. Then, when I got so sick back in early 2008 with bronchitis and a major sinus infection that incapacitated me for the better part of a month, I got "investigated" at HR's behest as I had turned in the leave form too early before the illness actually ran its course (I had double sickening). I had never, ever been out on medical leave before in all my years in the workforce, so I didn't know the rules at all and that there was no time frame on when to submit the leave form. They were trying to find any kind of minor infraction to use against me by trying to claim I was "abusing" the sick leave and "malingering." However, the idiot principal, although knowing good and well I had been ill and had ample evidence of that, fired me without witnesses present because, she claimed, I "had trouble at Sparks Middle." Unbelievable. It actually came out in the hearing that this nitwit principal, the head of HR, one of the district's lawyers, and the principal's supervisor actually held a meeting to find out a way to get rid of me, apparently. I was never consulted about anything, and none of the people involved in my "hearing" at SMS were never spoken with, either, to find out the backstory of what happened there. This moron principal simply used the other principal's admonition as a template to write her dismissal screed. She had NEVER looked at my file previously. She had not followed one stinking thing she was supposed to do by district protocol, violated the negotiated agreement, violated state law, and violated federal FMLA. She decided she was going to cover her useless ass by throwing me under the bus.

Of course I was never told of my rights to file a civil claim via EEOC, thus destroying any chance I could have ever sued the district for damages (which I would have gotten a major settlement thanks to all of the violations); the "association's" lawyer completely failed to do his job, while the "association's" executive director failed to tell me as well. After all, she was "coincidentally" cutting deals with the HR head to get a job working directly under him at least in part so as not to be a witness for me at my sham hearing. A bribe, in other words. Perfectly legal, too, since school districts operate above the law.

The hearing was a joke; I still can't believe I ever went through this bullshit that should have been dropped when HR realized it screwed up. Of course the hearing officer was also on the take to cover up for HR and for the principal, so I was not reinstated and thus forced into poverty. The principal merely got moved to another school (and continues to be moved from job to job to job) and maybe got docked some of her pay--I don't know because I never read the bullshit "award" decision. It went into the trash can as soon as I received it as I was enraged I wasted so much time on this crap when I should have been pursuing the EEOC/civil route, had I known about the EEOC statutes of limitations.

What I DO know is after this happened, the district had as part of its administrator inservice right before the beginning of the school year and every year afterward a workshop discussing Nevada law and discipline of teachers. Ten cents says this was a direct result of my disastrous dismissal and hearing.

Meanwhile, I can't get back on my feet financially.

It will be six years Monday the bitch shoved that "dismissal recommendation" under my nose at Sun Valley Elementary School.

The linked article points out how this district used "peer assistance" as a covert form of age discrimination:

At the same time, the majority of teachers who have been referred to BPAR are also over 54 years of age, and thus among the highest paid teachers in Berkeley. When it comes to female teachers, this age discrimination is especially glaring, critics say. Of 21 female teachers referred to BPAR during the ten-year period, 18 were 55 or older — 85.7 percent. Yet teachers older than 55 represent just 21.5 percent of the teacher population in the state (district-level age data was not available), meaning that older women are very likely represented at a substantially disproportionate level in BPAR.

When it comes to older teachers, according to critics and one legal complaint, it seems clear that the district is simply looking to cut costs by removing — or intimidating into early retirement — those who are paid the most. Most teachers placed in BPAR since 2002 also have been among the best trained in the district, having amassed the most post-graduate education units. "Many of the older teachers are afraid for their jobs," said Lucinda Daly, a 61-year-old Berkeley High visual arts teacher who was referred to BPAR this academic year and in response filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging age discrimination. "If you think someone's not doing a good enough job, work with them, but don't threaten them."

I think in my case one of the motives by HR to try and get me out was it thought I hadn't been vested in PERS although I had been, so they could save money there. Even if HR knew I had been vested, they still would have saved money on the pension by forcing me out years before I could retire. There was also a colleague retiring in special education that year who didn't retire until three years later but was allowed to "double dip" after I got sacked. I believe that was another motive by HR to do what it did. However, nobody from HR had his or her name on that dismissal recommendation, only the principal and superintendent, so despite my being told HR put her up to the whole thing, the onus is still clearly on her.

Eventually, the HR head ended up demoted to janitorial supervision making 31k less a year.

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