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February 3 2015

Aren’t Unions Great? NYC Can’t Get Rid of “Unsatisfactory” Teacher

Charlotte Allen

Here’s what could happen if you’ve been unlucky enough to be an impoverished Latino 6-year-old trying to learn how to read and write in the union-dominated public school system in New York City:

You might have ended up in the classroom of Ann Legra, 44, a first-grade teacher at P.S. 173 in the city’s Ft. Washington neighborhood whom the city’s Department of Education has been trying unsuccessfully to fire after she was rated “unsatisfactory” for six consecutive years, according to the New York Post.

                But noooo.

             Hearing officer Eugene Ginsberg upheld charges of Legra’s “inability to supervise students,” excessive lateness and absence and poor lesson planning in the 2012-2013 school year.

But Ginsberg dismissed evidence that Legra was a lousy instructor, saying she didn’t get enough coaching.

The good news: Legra received a 45-day suspension without pay and was assigned to a 1,400-person pool of substitute teachers instead of a regular classroom. So now you might win the lottery and not have Legra “teaching” you on a daily basis. The bad news: Legra gets to keep her
$84,500-a-year salary.

            According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income in the state of New York was $56,498 during 2012, the last year for which the Census Bureau has figure.

Here’s more about Legra’s case from the Post:

Ginsberg’s ruling came the second time the DOE brought charges against Legra, who was hired as an aide 23 years ago and became a teacher at PS 173 in 2001, officials said.

In a prior settlement, she admitted excessive absences from 2009 to 2012. The DOE let her off with a $2,500 fine.

This time, the DOE took Legra to an administrative trial.

In one example of her poor management, PS 173 Assistant Principal Kevin Goodman found Legra’s classroom in “chaos.”

“Students up out of their seats, at least one was running, another was demonstrating karate moves on the closet door and the majority of the students were not involved in anything instructional — an issue that has repeatedly plagued your tenure as a classroom teacher,” he wrote at the time.

Three of her 6-year-olds were injured in a classroom melee that day, he added.

Amid the “mayhem,” Goodman wrote, Legra was “buried in a corner at a computer table” where she could not monitor all the kids.

Legra said she was “re-sharpening pencils” that were too sharp — to prevent accidents. She claimed the students were “walking around the room working on word activities.”

Over the school year, Legra was absent 27 times and late 37 times. Legra said she suffers asthma and had to go to court for a custody fight with her ex.

Here’s one reason Legra proved to be impossible to fire:

Job protections for tenured teachers make it difficult to fire bad apples. The system requires that each charge be proven in a trial with witnesses, documents and arguments. The DOE must show the teacher was given training and chances to improve.

The hearing officers — picked jointly by the DOE and the teachers union — frequently balk at termination, instead ordering a fine or suspension and requiring the teacher to take courses.

Legra’s next move? No, not a resolution to pull up her socks for the sake of the children, but—you guessed it—litigation:

[Legra] has since filed a federal lawsuit against the DOE, charging discrimination based on her race, gender, national origin and medical disability.

According to Public School Review, the P.S. 173 student body is 98 percent minority, mostly Hispanic. Some 80 percent of those students are eligible for free school lunches, a marker for poverty. So much for "education" being the path out of poverty.

 

 

 

 

 

           

           



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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