by Sigi Siegel With Assistance of Unnamed LAUSD Employees Also Jailed
The West ESC has had many interesting discussions and debates pertaining to what we, as housed teachers, would like for UTLA to do on our behalf. The list we present is not in any particular order and the questions that we pose are coming from a place of sincerity. We don't have all the questions and answers, but this can be a start to repair the bridges between LAUSD, UTLA, the Board of Education, and the LAPD as well, in order to form a political powerhouse of like mind and spirit, in gratitude and grace, with the sole purpose of protecting the communities that we serve, while improving the quality of all of our public schools in their advancement as 21st century institutions of change and innovation.
Stop Teacher Termination Policy!
In an ideal world, the neighborhood school should serve as the heart of each and every community; the closing down and reconstitution of our neighborhood public schools must stop. Similarly, UTLA must acknowledge and advocate on our behalf that the housing, along with the processes of teacher discipline, teacher removal and teacher dismissal that we have been forced to endure, is nothing but: demoralizing, unfair, unconstitutional, and abusive. Real child sex offenders and predators, however, have been protected, hidden and covered up by LAUSD senior officials for the last 25 years.
Temporarily assigned re-housed teachers/employees deserve to be exonerated. We want the Union to stop LAUSD from mistreating us as "sacrificial lambs" and "guinea pigs," only to distract, derail and delude UTLA members as well as the public into believing that we are not the ambassadors of good will, and that our concerted efforts in improving public education is analogous to "prostitution." The housing of teachers and other District personnel reflects LAUSD's administrative dysfunction, despotism and moral decline into "prostitution" and other similar-minded criminal activities.
We have organized our thoughts, questions and suggestions for UTLA into three categories: observations, corrective measures and questions.
1.The District seems to be moving re-housed teachers/employees out at alarmingly faster rates; i.e., some teachers are having back-to-back meetings on the same day.
2.Since Miramonte, Wilmington, Alta Loma and Portola Middle School, real child predators are coming out of the woodwork. LAUSD has not been vigilant in keeping track of sex offenders, and has targeted innocent teachers/employees, who have been allegedly accused of "harming" students.
3.LAUSD senior management has been intentionally protecting identified sexual predators/offenders.
4.Internal school politicking, hearsay, rumor, and/or gossip, are some of the reasons why teachers/employees have been pulled from their schools and temporarily re-assigned to LAUSD Education Service Centers.
5.Many administrators display bias and/or at least a lack of objectivity in dealing with in-house conflict.
6.In many teacher dismissal cases, it comes down to "he said," "she said," which results in the administrator automatically taking the side of the accuser.
7.UTLA is not protecting teachers' reputations and careers.
8.UTLA needs to keep track of which principals are sending a disproportionate number of teachers to reassigned employee centers.
9.UTLA is not protecting teachers' reputations and careers.
10.Teacher rights and employment issues need to be discussed at school site's staff meetings.
11.Employees are being written up writing and re-housed for the most minor infractions.
12.At many underperforming LAUSD schools, there is increased pressure and likelihood of mistaken allegations of misconduct.
13.Employees in underperforming schools are more subject to being targeted.
14.Experienced career teachers should be utilized to full capacity as master and mentor teachers for incoming, less experienced educators!
15.Union representatives are inconsistent with the counsel that is given to us. Some representatives tell you not to talk, some representatives don't tell you anything at all, and some representatives take the lead, not allowing you to fully present your case.
Superintendent Deasy must cease making false, inflammatory, self-serving and inaccurate statements in the media concerning currently housed employees, i.e. referring to them as "prostitutes" and accusing them of "egregious acts of misconduct."
2.UTLA needs to devise a toolkit for all employees on how to go about protecting their rights including actionable information regarding what we ought to say and do, and more specifically, what we ought not to say and do.
3.UTLA needs to inform its members of their vulnerability in losing their jobs and train members in how to protect their jobs with a list of preventative measures.
4.UTLA needs to be proactive in supporting its members and their jobs by hiring more full-time employees to serve as school site teacher representatives, specifically trained to deal with administrators and teacher discipline.
5.Many District personnel do not include facts favorable to housed employees-- critical to objective decision-making.
6.UTLA has a responsibility to represent its due-paying members before the OAH (Office of Administrative Hearing) level.
7.UTLA representatives assigned to housed teachers need to visit and/or revisit housed employees files and become familiar with all cases.
8.There should be meaningful mediation before teachers are assigned to the re-housed employment status.
9.Chapter Chairs need more support and experience in representing teachers in formal or non-formal settings.
10.Chapter Chairs need more support and experience in representing teachers in formal or non-formal settings when steps need to be taken against LAUSD administrators who are bullying, intimidating and abusing teachers.
11.Teachers/employees need to receive or have access to all documents that pertain to their cases.
12.The District should not be allowed to make arbitrary decisions without Union participation and input.
13.The Union should stand up against District discriminatory practices.
14.UTLA needs to file a complaint for a state audit on LAUSD's teacher removal, discipline, and dismissal process.
15.There needs to be closer coordination between the Union and accused teachers.
16.The District and the Union need to collaborate in preventing teacher removal, discipline and termination.
17.UTLA needs to train its chapter chairs so they can better deal with administrators and teacher discipline.
18.Teachers cleared by the police should be returned to the classroom.
19.UTLA needs to provide a teacher abuse hotline with someone specifically trained in how to deal with labor-related issues along with training chapter chairs and area representatives.
20.There should be meaningful mediation before teachers are assigned to re-housed employment status.
21.Corrective measures should be implemented immediately to end the practice of "guilt by accusation."
22.LAUSD administrators should not be allowed to exclude documents obtained in their investigation and should be shared with the teacher.
23.UTLA and LAUSD need to form an independent panel that reviews teacher dismissal cases so that District administrators cannot make arbitrary decisions.
24.The Union needs to set up a task force or independent agency to mediate employment-related issues; teacher grievances must be dealt with in a timely manner, must stand up against District discriminatory practices. For example, the Suspension Appeal meeting must take place before the Dismissal/Administrative Hearing/Skelly meetings takes place.
25.UTLA needs to file a complaint for a state audit on LAUSD's teacher removal, discipline, and dismissal process.
26.UTLA must forcefully answer Deasy's false, inflammatory, self-serving and inaccurate statements in the media concerning currently housed employees, i.e. referring to them as "prostitutes" and accusing them of "egregious acts of misconduct by aggressively pursuing the media, releasing press statements, etc.
1.Why does UTLA allow teachers and other staff members, who sit in the reassignment employee centers despite not having been charged criminally?
2.Why has UTLA not challenged LAUSD in regard to failing to provide meaningful due process, particularly in light of the alarming rate the District has sped up its so-called "due process?"
3.If LAPD determines that a case has no merit, why is the District allowed to continue to "house" teachers and other LAUSD employees?
4.Why has UTLA not reacted to the dramatic increase in teacher terminations, especially given he fact that many, if not most, of the charges against housed teachers/employees are inaccurate or have no merit?
5.Why is the Teacher Dismissal process void of meaningful mediation and why does UTLA not take a more active and assertive role?
6.Why are real child predators protected and hidden by LAUSD senior officials for years maybe decades, whereas housed teachers, who have not committed any "egregious acts of misconduct" are treated like criminals?
7.Why does UTLA allow LAUSD administrators to bully and abuse teachers?
8.What real motivation does a Chapter Chair have in supporting targeted teachers, when his/her association with the targeted teacher, be enough cause to send the Chapter Chair to teacher jail?
9.Why are teachers falsely told that an investigation has taken place, when in fact, no one has interviewed or questioned the accused teacher: namely, why is "indifference" used synonymously with "being neutral," when they are in fact two distinct states of being?
10.Why do housed employees not receive all the documentation/evidence that describes the investigative findings during the pre-disciplinary meeting?
11.Why does UTLA allow temporarily reassigned employees to be left in the dark?
12.Why are principals not held accountable when he/she has tampered with personnel files?
13.Why has UTLA not challenged the District's abandonment of progressive discipline?
14.Why do UTLA representatives and officers not visit schools and talk with teachers?
15.How can one meeting be called three different names: the Dismissal Meeting, the Skelly Hearing and the Administrative Review Meeting?
16.How can a Suspension Appeal meeting follow up on the Dismissal meeting and doesn't that defeat the purpose of filing a grievance with UTLA?
17.Why does the Union continue to allow the misuse and misinterpretation of District policies and state Education Codes in relation to teacher discipline, teacher removal and teacher dismissal?
18.Why has UTLA not challenged Deasy's ignoring the grievance process either in court or with PERB?"
19.Why does UTLA allow the District to overreact on teacher allegations?
20.Why is UTLA not more aggressive in taking cases to arbitration?
21.Why are chapter chairs not trained in how to appeal when teachers are targeted with false and/or frivolous charges and how can UTLA better react when such instances arise?
22.Who can employees turn to when they are getting written up for frivolous charges and behaviors that are not prohibited by the UTLA-LAUSD contract and what does that process look like?
23.Why has UTLA not challenged Deasy's top-down administrative style when we are supposed to have local governance in the form of school site councils and shared decision-making?
24.Whatever happened to the promise of the "career teacher," who was supposed to function as Master/Mentor teachers to newly hired teachers?
25.Why does UTLA not challenge the fact that teachers sit in the "rubber room" with no allegations or even knowledge of the nature of the allegations?
26.Why does UTLA not challenge the fact that teachers are not notified in advance of their dismissal vote?
27.Why does UTLA not challenge/insist that teachers be allowed to address the Board in closed session as provided in the California Education Code?)
28.Can re-housed employees have a corner in the UTLA newspaper that reports out on the latest developments in LAUSD's teacher jail?
29.How can UTLA turn around the District's culture of false and frivolous allegations made on innocent teachers/employees that result in termination?
30.Why is teacher retention not a District priority?
31.How can Chapter Chairs improve the communication channels between the principal and teaching staff?
32.Why has UTLA not dealt with the insane increase in teacher dismissals?
Concluding Reflections of Re-housed Employees
In conclusion, being re-housed takes a toll on the employee: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. When housed, we are made to feel abandoned, frustrated and unsettled. Most of us have entered this profession to better the future of mankind, but when our efforts are doubted or misinterpreted by District management, who are not being held accountable for their immoral acts of turpitude. We, rubber room teachers, are used as scapegoats and accused of committing "egregious acts of misconduct" against students and against mankind. We are saddened and angered to have been made to experience the intense victimization of this anti-democratic, autocratic conspiracy, that was not the foundation in which this country was built on in the first place. Unlike a democracy, LAUSD has become a supreme political power, whose governance is concentrated in the hands of one person, that being Superintendent John E. Deasy, Ph.D., and whose decisions are not subject to external legal restraints. Housed employees seek to become reinstated in the important work that we do and encourage active support by UTLA and its more than 35, 000 members, in getting us released from LAUSD imprisonment.