[UPDATE JULY 11, 2015: Still no sign of an investigation, but students on Bryant High School page posted this picture of UFT District Rep James Vasquez standing with DOE attorney Thomas Fox while staff and students protested against Principal Namita Dwarka]
In the last week alone there have been strange and questionable behaviors stemming from the Queens UFT Office. More specifically from Queens Borough Representative Rona Freiser’s email habits and chapter leader election involvement..
First, UFT Solidarity was provided with a disturbing email chain below. Try and follow as UFT member Nina sends a lengthy email alleging even more misconduct at William Bryant High School and then Rona Freiser sends an “FYI” to a DOE attorney. Not to be mistaken with “FYI fix this! Let’s discuss how to support this embattled school, where teachers have rallied and students have walked out against the principal.”
When UFT Solidarity asked if there were repercussions after this forward, the member responded:
“Yes, I had a surprise observation that was not written up on 5/27. She screamed at me in front of my class. More details are below.”
On May 21, 2015, Wilson Montero was re-elected as UFT chapter leader. He won by 6 votes. All election protocol was followed and the election committee signed off as such. The next week everyone in school received this from Rona Freiser:
Then messages were sent indicating the new election would instead be on Thursday June 4th while many teachers were out on PDs. As the election approached it was changed again to Friday. UFT Solidarity appealed to the Queens UFT office and to Ray Frankel who supports elections stating that it’s not clear what the original deficiency was and the date of election keeps changing. A message was left for District Rep James Vasquez and emails went out to many, but no response was given except from Emil Pietromonaco who indicated that complaints about a borough office’s actions should be sent to him.
In any case the election took place yesterday and Wilson won again. This time by 44 votes instead of 6. UFT Solidarity plans to continue investigating what warranted a new election as school sources state the complaint came from the principal’s secretary.
UFT members should also be interested to know that this isn’t the first time upper UFT officials get involved in school elections and that union elections are protected by law.
Last year Manhattan District Rep Dwayne Clark allegedly helped initiate recall elections against chapter leader Leon Paris who was exiled to the rubber room after raising concerns at his school. Leon won the first recall during his exile, but after District Rep Dwayne Clark’s persistence he eventually lost. Leon has taken Dwayne Clark and the UFT to PERB. Dwayne Clark has been promoted to Manhattan Rep.
In Staten Island we also saw the district office’s in school delegate, Cheryl McMillan, help initiate several recall votes against exiled Chapter Leader Francesco Portelos. Four recall attempts were unsuccessful, but the UFT eventually allowed Portelos to be stripped of his title in violation of the contract. He too has taken the UFT to PERB as have a growing number of UFT members who feel misrepresented.