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Forbidden Love at a PS!

Apr 17, 2018 by

Two staff members were fined a combined $5,500 for having the temerity to fall in love at the common workplace where they had met. The city’s Conflict of Interest Board took the action. They are the public’s first line of defense against hanky-panky.

They had an open and shut case.

An assistant principal at the HS for Law Enforcement and Public Safety in Jamaica, Queens, and a classroom instructor were sufficiently attracted to each other to succumb to the lure of marriage. There was no coercion down the chain-of-command.

Although the teacher was technically the AP’s subordinate on the job, she was neither formally nor informally evaluated by him for professional performance review. Nobody alleged that she got any special treatment, favors, or exemptions in the workplace. Nobody was harmed, inconvenienced or embarrassed.

So what’s the problem?

According to the rules, which are very selected enforced, it is prohibited for a supervisor and a subordinate to have any joint financial involvement. This strict injunction applies to garden-variety personnel. It is much more elastic when the protagonists have pull at City Hall or in the higher titled altitudes of the Department of Education where the air needed to be productive in oxygen-thin.

There is more nepotism at the DOE than in the Saudi Arabian royal family.

Perhaps there’s been a slight improvement over the days of decentralized school districts when a business manager of my acquaintance used to dole out plum positions to every member in his extended family. They always landed in the best public schools closest to their homes.  The lack of coincidence was an open secret.

Who advised the Conflict of Interest of this lovers’ breach?  Was it the DOE or did they find out by some data-mining scheme or accident?
When that Apollo spacecraft almost got stranded in outer space back in the 70s, there was footage of dozens of engineers with furrowed brows looking at computer screens.

No doubt there is a cadre of city employees crowding around radar screens poised to leap into action at the first incriminating blip of forbidden romance. With the city and especially the Department of Education facing so many challenges and pulled in so many directions  and sloughs off so many scandals, they have to draw a red line somewhere.

They should cross it out.

Ron Isaac

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