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Harlem Children’s Zone and the Fired Public School Teacher

Sep 7, 2017 by

A public school teacher, who claims her limbs swell up due to an inflammatory disease, asked her fifth-grade students to rub the allegedly affected areas. Although her request, made openly and during instructional time, may have been relatively innocent in the sense that there probably was less likelihood of lewd intent since it was not done in secret behind closed doors, it no doubt, at the very least, reflected horrible judgement and warranted the proportional disciplinary action of termination.

The conclusion that she should be fired was cemented by aggravating evidence of gross past indiscretions that displayed her unfitness to work directly with children. According to the Department of Education , she once called a child a “liar and a thief” ( whether or not this categorization is accurate is irrelevant), and on two other occasions threw an object at a child and hit a child on the head. She calls the latter incident a “tap.”

All of the above occurred around 2007. Some of it may be “hearsay, which emanating from the DOE sometimes wrongly carries the legal weight and moral authority of incontrovertible evidence. But much was substantiated by investigators who are often former police detectives who are familiar and bound by the legitimate protocols of law-enforcement inquiries.

Although the teacher is remorseful and pleads for another chance to pursue her profession with rectitude, she continues to be banned permanently from any Department of Education position, including with any of the Agency’s vendors.

Since most of the story is old news, why did it make the New York Post just a week ago?

Because the teacher is now suing for $100,000 and to have her eligibility to work restored. She has been banned for life by the DOE.Though harsh, most folks wouldn’t disagree with that punishment.

What took the teacher so long to seek what she deems her deserved restitution? Perhaps she figured the DOE had forgotten her and that she could just pick up from where she had left off years ago. But when she applies for a job with a DOE-affiliated after-school program, the red flags popped up and she was rejected with no option of appeal.

There is no exit from the trap door through which she had fallen because of her own ill-considered actions.

But wait!  Charter school to the rescue!

Long after this teacher had been cut loose from the public school system, the Harlem Children’s Zone, a charter school that is often touted as a champion among quality educational institutions, gave this same teacher a gig working closely with kids. Charter school acolytes often ostentatiously brag about practicing superior standards in hiring, because unlike public schools, they are not saddled by union rules.

They would admit to their mistake were they capable of shame.

Even if the Harlem Children’s Zone were unaware of the teacher’s tainted history and would not have retained her on staff had they known, they clearly didn’t bother with “due diligence”. Using conventional means, they could easily have accessed her background.

The Harlem Children’s Zone, like many other privately-run, tax-payer-funded  charter schools, has a lot to learn from our public schools about accountability and the protection of students.

And also about the nature of tenure and how it works. The charter school hawks are avid subscribers to the fallacy that tenure guarantees life-time employment even to teachers guilty of serious wrongdoing.That was disproved by the case of the tenured teacher who was canned immediately upon the allegations being properly checked out. Tenure is about due-process according to culture, tradition and law.

The public schools are a hospitable environment for tenure.  No apologies for that. Charter schools?  Not so much. They apologize for nothing.

Ron Isaac

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