[UPDATED] Bizarre Behavior Coming from Queens UFT Office

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[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]

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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.”

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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:

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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.

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35 Comments

  1. Adults who conduct themselves in immoral immature ways should be removed from the education system entirely. I don’t want you around my children. You are not educating the children… You are teaching them that your own selfish agendas are of most concern. You are NOT performing your job duties. You are paid by tax paying members of this city to do what is RIGHT for THE CHILDREN. Be aware that any small, incorrect “victory” that you believe you are winning in this life will be rewarded with a warm place to reside for the rest of eternity. Luckily, neither myself, my children, or any of the educators and staff members that actually CARE about educating our future will be there to share that with you. True success is achieved when you can rest your head at night with a peace in your soul. Sleep well.

  2. This is totally unacceptable situation at a major high school.
    — The Principal needs to be held accountable for providing proper staff and support towards the goal of providing quality education for the students;
    — The Superintendent needs to be held accountable for not properly supervising and/or supporting the Principal and for letting the situation fester;
    — but most disturbing is that the UFT leaders should be held accountable for not aggressively holding the Principal and the Superintendent accountable.

    We, the citizens of NYC, have hired and paid these people to educate the next generation of NYC citizens.

    Anyone who participates (whether actively or passively) in perpetuating (rather than fixing) the disgraceful status of this high school (especially those who have been so blatantly derelict in their fulfillment of their contractual duties) should be reprimanded and/or removed from their role IMMEDIATELY.

    • Many uft chapter leaders are in bed with the principal because it’s less paperwork for them… I’ve seen it as a sub para and sub teacher. Then as a teacher saw how the borough offices are the same way. The teachers union is a sham!!! Everyone just gets paid to be corrupt or not protect you!!!

  3. Not bizarre.

    CORRUPT

  4. Not the first time Rona & gang has dropped the ball.

    MANY cases of UFT Queens officials clearly on principal or superintendent’s side
    All the while collecting six figure salaries and high stipends paid for by members

  5. Pingback: Hero Teachers Slated for Termination - UFT Solidarity

  6. Thank you so much for this post! There is something seriously wrong with this UFT office. Don’t know with who the corruption begins, it’s so widespread there.

    Some of the people working there are earning around 150K. Others making 50K stipends on top of six figure salaries from the DOE. My question is – FOR WHAT? For people who can’t or won’t help the members they’re supposed to serve. Do they get we pay their salaries?

    What exactly do all those employees do in that office? Just handle pension consults? Seems to be the only thing UFT is good at – helping members LEAVE the system.

    Something is seriously wrong there. Glad you’re bring attention to that office.

  7. Veteran Teacher Abused

    The UFT are all crooks, they will defend an abusive Principal instead of a hard working veteran teacher.

  8. This is a federal offense. How is she not held accountable? James Vasquez and Rona Freiser are on the principal’s side. They know people and still continue to throw their members under the bus. Justice must be served!!

  9. Veteran Teachers United

    The Principal cannot manage a school, the only thing she knows is intimidation, fear and she lacks common sense. She just wants to satisfy her ego, her decisions do not have any rationale. She runs the school like her company, and she keeps ruining everything. She is incompetent, and she needs to be out of there.

  10. District 26 Teacher

    Hopefully an investigation can be launched on this uft office

    Their only purpose seems to be throwing members under the bus while they pad their wallets

  11. Dedicated Teacher

    Great investigative journalism!! Wow, I thought queens had the better representatives for members. Keep the reports coming.

  12. Another Dedicated Teacher

    Middle school principals beware. Your staff is recording you and your assistant principals.

  13. That’s an intelligent answer to a difficult question xxx

  14. Veteran Teachers Fighting United

    WE ARE VERY SHAMEFUL OF the Queens UFT office for being silent while good teachers with integrity are losing their jobs.

  15. I really couldn’t ask for more from this article.

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  28. I had more than sufficient evidence against a principal in district 5, as an ATR we are forced to take positions that we were offered. It was a year of harassment. I put in 12 hr days and still brought home 50-60hrs worth of work. This principal would twist your words and situations against you. I never received ; supplies, keys ( bathroom or classroom), forced to donate food for her parent functions or donate money, no place to keep my records, no place to lock up my jacket, told I would be held responsible for everything in an ICT classroom, the list goes on and on. I had folders and notebooks of information that I handed in to the UFT and DOE to show Bias, racism, ageism and dislike of Special needs teachers/students in addition to senior teachers. My case was actually denied. The district rep, boro rep and Superintendent are all connected to the principal. Many people felt their complaints wouldn’t go anywhere, which mine didn’t, but I didn’t go through them. I went directly to the union and went to other people that could help me. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way and the DOE denied my charges and would not hold this principal responsible for her irresponsible actions. She refused to help students in need, but claimed to be a community school. As I mentioned, the list goes on and on…

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