By Susan Edelman October 21, 2017 | 5:58pm |
Mayor de Blasio has done progressively worse than his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, in firing tenured teachers the city deems incompetent or dangerous, The Post has learned.
Last school year, de Blasio’s Department of Education convinced hearing officers to terminate just 34 of 127 educators brought to administrative trials, or 27 percent, according to state data.
In contrast, the city won firings in 55 of 122 teacher trials — or 45 percent — in 2012-13, the last full school year under Bloomberg, according to the state Education Department.
Critics blame the drop-off on sloppy prosecutions, weak cases, and de Blasio’s close ties to the powerful United Federation of Teachers, which endorsed him for his first term and now for re-election.
“From the top down, bureaucrats at the DOE know that their mayor is bought and paid for by the teachers union,” said Mona Davids, president of the NYC Parents Union. “It’s an unspoken understanding to be more lenient when it comes to teacher discipline.”
DOE spokesman Michael Aciman would not address the decline, saying only, “We use every resource at our disposal to recruit and retain strong educators, but we also hold teachers accountable.”
In one alarming case, the DOE failed to terminate Joseph Attzs, a veteran teacher at PS 15 Jackie Robinson in Springfield Gardens. Attzs, it was found, repeatedly dumped the contents of students’ desks, threw their personal items and work in the trash, pinched and pushed them, and grabbed and twisted arms.
Hearing officer Michael Capone imposed only a two-month suspension, and ordered the DOE to pay for his “remedial assistance.” Attzs, who makes $92,000 a year, was since hired at nearby PS 132.
Of the 93 educators not fired in trials last year, 55 were fined, 18 suspended, and seven reprimanded or given training. All charges against 13 were dismissed. Another 184 “settled” charges, most by paying a fine. Some quit or retired.
Among the survivors was Edwin Rivera, a gym/health teacher at Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He was found guilty of staring at girls’ breasts and butts, telling one, “I like your jeans,” as she bent to pick up a basketball. He also “developed an erection” in view of the class while watching a girl dance. Rivera denied it, claiming he had “markers” in his pocket.
Hearing officer Lisa Brogan suspended him for a few months, and ordered him to study up on “teacher/student boundaries and sexual harassment.” He now teaches at PS 147 in Bushwick.