Op Ed: The Dark Underbelly of Ed Law 3020a

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author of this opt ed are their own and their appearance on the website does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect the view of UFT Solidarity caucus or any of its officials. 

New York State Education Law 3020-a states that a school district cannot terminate a tenured teacher without a hearing. This is great for those amazing educators, who want to continue taking part in educating students, but have come under warrantless attacks from administrators, fellow colleagues, students or parents. 

As you know I am presently following legal advice of keeping a low profile while my 3020a charges are pending, but I wanted to share the following insights in hopes that the information can get out through UFT Solidarity, your contacts, website, FB groups etc.

Basic info on my case for frame of reference: I am being charged solely on performance matters, so it’s covered under the TPU. However I have received Effectives every single year at my school. Their game, which is very important to all teachers, is to intentionally give me overall Developing for my MOTP. I always got Effectives for my MOSL. The specific charge is “Less than Effective” and apparently it is possible, though unlikely, to terminate a teacher for that under state education law.

1) I spent this past year reaching out to UFT higher ups to speak to concerns not about my case per se but about the dangers my case represents to all teachers. I was rebuffed by all of them. They are clearly trying to wet blanket concerns and get teachers to just live with the current system. Change must come from below and by many teachers in concert.

2) Very important: for teachers who negotiated deals rather than going through hearings, there is a standard clause that allows the superintendent to override the agreement and send the teacher back to the school that charged them, setting them up for more abuse and more charges. This occurred to another teacher I know; he was only there at his school for four months from after negotiating case #1 and was denied a laptop, written up for not attending meetings he wasn’t aware of, and give 11 observations/evaluations in 2 ½ months. Even though this is clearly harassment, new 3020a charges were approved against him. Teachers negotiating a settlement must have that clause removed or essentially their agreement is a big gamble or a pointless exercise.

3) I have spoken a number of teachers who have been victimized by unwarranted 3020 charges and I had it confirmed by all, and by friendly UFT old-timers, that the DOE always has to partially win no matter how absurd the charges are or how well the teacher is exonerated. This usually comes in the form of a huge fine to the tune of $5000-$10,000 or more and possible suspension for one or more months.

4) The arbitrator is in effect allowed vis-à-vis the agreement between the DOE/UFT to play god with teachers’ careers. Even if there is a preponderance of evidence in favor of the teacher, the arbitrator can make an argument that s/he believes the DOE and the teacher is out of a job. Appeals rarely challenge the arbitrators’ decisions; they only make adjustments if the “remedy” is ruled too extreme given the case’s circumstances.

In other words, seven years ago the DOE/UFT agreed to a system that creates tools for admin to use to destroy tenured teachers’ careers. One’s career now depends on whether you are working for admin who are unprofessional or destructive enough to use those tools.

Have you been charged with incompetence or misconduct and you are going through a termination hearing? Do you know of someone who is? Refer them to the UFT Solidarity 3020a Guide.

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One Comment

  1. File a case in federal court. I had the same situation. Ineffective
    MOTP. High MOSL.

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