Francesco Portelos

Francesco Portelos for UFT Secretary
Francesco Portelos

Francesco Portelos is a former engineer turned science and technology teacher. Francesco is a strong advocate for education with a focus on fighting corruption in our school system.  Thirteen years ago he made the decision to leave his higher paying career to teach in a troubled school in his community in Staten Island.

As most teachers do, Francesco Portelos stayed late and worked hard to give his students the best. Before entering the teacher activist arena, his principal wrote Francesco Portelos “is dedicated and hard working, giving the school access to the best technology the school can offer to the  students and staff as well.” It wasn’t until he became a father in his school’s community, and saw the school system under the lens of a parent, that he came to learn the truth about how the NYC Department of Education and UFT operate. He began raising serious concerns at his school and was immediately retaliated by the DOE and left to fend for himself while the UFT did little to support him.

Not knowing how to give up, he pushed on advocating for himself and for his colleagues at the school. He was removed from the school and banished to a basement with gated windows twenty miles away. Did that stop Francesco Portelos? No. He ran for UFT Chapter Leader, despite his distant exile and made UFT history by being the first one to be elected while banned from his school.

That was only the beginning of a six year battle that continues pushing Francesco to create several educator advocacy groups including, and Since raising concerns, the DOE has lodged over 60  frivolous investigations and/or trumped up charges against Francesco Portelos. Regardless, Francesco Portelos continues to be in front of the classroom today educating students and proving that you have to be strong and fight back.

He has taught all subjects from Pre-K to 8th grade. Traveling as an ATR he better understands the plight of educators from elementary to middle school, something the current Unity UFT leadership does not. When he is not teaching he is addressing calls from all types of educators, including assistant principals and principals who are retaliated by their own supervisors.

Francesco Portelos has attempted to work with the last two UFT Secretaries, Emil Pietromonaco and Howie Schoor, to help tackle the horrific attacks on probationary teachers. Hundreds of our most vulnerable, non tenured, members are discontinued every year and countless more are forced to resign. After attacks from unscrupulous, and sometimes corrupt, supervisors, these educators find themselves unemployed and often banned from ever teaching again. Both Howie and Emil, as well as the rest of the Unity caucus leadership, have failed to fix this issue despite a friendly connection with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza. Francesco aims to get elected and help fix that and many other issues that plague our members.

You can read more about Francesco Portelos and his journey to improve a broken system on his website    The site has also been a focal point of support and inspiration for educators across the united States. 


  1. Dear Francesco —

    I live in Colorado ; & from Sept to Nov 2018 experienced similar Bullying, Harassment, & Discrimination that you experienced.

    The District posted fully incorrect information about me on the Internet in their School Board Docs; while dis-connecting me from my job.

    In Nov of 2018, they suggested that I’d be able to interview for other jobs within the very large District — so, I thought it was better to take them up on that offer — than to keep working for 2 Principals who were so clearly harassing, bullying, and discriminating against me. It was very clear to me that they planned to set me up ASAP on a path to non-renewal.

    The other job interviews have not been forthcoming.

    Your advocacies are incredibly important…! ! !

    I was an OUTSTANDING educator for them ; & also experienced several years of successful services as an Educator, & Special Services Provider Intern– in the past.

    Although my services for them on this particular cycle were only 2 – 3 months into the contract : when these severe troubles began ( after I voiced some concerns about rationale for such large kindergarten classes in one school ; & voiced concern at my 2nd school : ( my afternoon placement ) about the Principal’s plan to “take an hour of my 3 hour day away from my Special Ed students, and give it to benefit the General Ed students instead.

    Neither of these Principals know very much about Special Education Laws – and I on the other hand, have several other Educator licenses , & other experiences & abilities that demonstrate that I do

    Their next acts were very similar to what you experienced — and they Bullied, Discriminated and Retaliated — instead of working on the elements in their schools in earnest.

    Both of these men were clearly intimidated by my unique Spec Ed & Legal knowledge — that they clearly lack…

    As one of your documentary pieces with Morrison & Foerster notes : many victims of what you describe are women who are over 40 years old.

    Please keep my in the loop ; offer words to the wise ; continue your numerous Great Works — and send me links to resources.

    Thank you Francesco…!

    Best, TLN Colorado


  2. Dear Francesco,
    I am a NYC elementary school teacher in Manhattan and I’m unfortunately going through a similar situation. I would like to get in touch with you to get some advice and find out more on the law firm that represented you. Do you have an email or cell phone number I could reach you at.

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