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New York Labor Center
April 16, 2010
1633 Broadway, Floor 10, New York, NY 10019·6708 telephone: 212-484-3266 facsimile: 212-307-4387 internet: http://www.adr.orgl
Director, Grievance Department United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 52 Broadway, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Seth Blau, Esq.
Board Of Education/City of New York 49-51 Chambers Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Re: 13 3900134709
United Federation of Teachers and
Board Of Education/City of New York
Peter Lamphere et.al,
By direction of the Fact Finder, enclosed please find the duly executed Report and Recommendations.
Also, please be advised that it is the AANs policy to retain awarded cases for a maximum period of fifteen (15) months from the date of the transmittal letter. Therefore, please take note that the above referenced case file will be destroyed 15 months from the date of this letter.
Thank you for choosing the American Arbitration Association.
Very truly yours,
Jeffrey Kriegsman Senior Case Manager 2124843241 firstname.lastname@example.org
cc: Carol A. Wittenberg Ellen Procida
Robert E. Waters, Esq.
AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION Voluntary Labor Tribunal
In the Matter of the Arbitration
x X X
UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, AFL-CIO
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION/CITY OF X
NEW YORK X
Before: Carol Wittenberg, Fact Finder
13 390 01347 09
The undersigned, having been designated by the parties, pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, was selected to serve as Fact Finder of the Special Complaint in accordance with Article 23 of the Agreement. Hearings were held at the offices of the American Arbi tration Association on the following dates: June 22, 2009, June 26, 2009, September 2, 2009( October 14, 2009, December 11, 2009, December 22, 2009, January 22, 2010 and March 25, 2010. The Union was represented by Ellen Procida and Michelle Daniels. The Department was represented by Robert Waters and Seth Blau.
Is there substantiation for the harassment andlor intimidation as Special Complaint? If so, what remedy?
allegations of set forth in the is the recommended
The issue before the Fact Finder is as follows:
During the fact finding hearings, seven of the special complainants testified and 13 others submitted written sta tements. Both Assistant Principal Rosemary Jahoda and Principal Valerie Reidy testified at length.
A "special complaint" is defined in Article 23 as f01lows~
A complaint by an employee in the bargaining unit that persons or groups are engaging in a course of harassing conduct, or in acts of intimidation, which are being directed against him/her in the course of his/her employment and that the school principal or community or assistant superintendent has not afforded the employee adequate relief against such course of conduct or acts of intimidation.
The following is raised by 20 of the 22 the Bronx High School Special Complaint:
a summary of some of the issues teachers in the math department of of Science as described in their
- creation of a hostile work environment through the
harassment and intimidation of teachers,
particularly untenured teachers
- making unreasonable demands on staff, including the pre-submission of aims and objectives and insisting that teachers remain on school premises after hours - inequitable implementation of department and school
- denial of program preferences
- "u" ratings
- issuance of letters for insubordination
The Special Complaint was drafted on May 14, 2008, filed and investigated by a Joint Investigative Committee of the UFT and the Department of Education, which did not reach a joint conclusion. The Special Complaint was heard at the Chancellor'S level on November 4, 2008 and denied.
At the heart of the matter are allegations that Assistant Principal Rosemary Jahoda harassed and/or intimidated teachers, in particular newer, untenured teachers in the math department by the substance of her statements and the tone in which she communicated with teachers. In making findings, reaching conclusions and making recommendations, the Fact Finder has not focused on pedagogical issues or matters involving the implementation of department or school policies or procedures, assignments, postings or disciplinary matters, which were either addressed by the Chancellor's Representative or are pending elsewhere. Nevertheless, the Fact Finder has considered both the substance and timing of these matters in reaching her conclusions.
FINDINGS OF FACT
In the fall of 2007, a number of teachers in the math department at the Bronx High School of Science ("the school") expressed their discontent with the new Assistant Principal, Rosemary Jahoda. A g,roup of these teachers met with UFT District Representative Lynne Winderbaum in December 2007 todeta:il their complaints.
The hiring of Jahoda in August 2007 followed a mandate to Principal Valerie Reidy to improve academics at the school and to make departments more child centered. Reidy' identified the math department as needing improvement and as having pockets of resistance to change. Reidy attempted to address change in the math department through the appointment of several Assistant Principals prior to Jahoda's appointment; each left the position. Jahoda is the only Assistant Principal for the math department.
Reidy suggested to Jahoda that she focus her efforts on working with newer teachers in the department who would be less resistant to change. At the time, there were four newer untenured teachers in the department including Tia Smith, Elizabeth Bellantoni, Carolyn Abbott and Nancy Phillip. None remains at the school today. These four untenured teachers sought the support and assistance o~ more senior members of the department to whom they voiced their complaints concerning both academic and administrative demands made by Jahoda that they felt were unreasonable. They also complained that they were harassed, demeaned and intimidated by Jahoda's treatment of them.
A number of senior members of the department attempted to intervene on behalf of the newer untenured teachers. Problems arose soon thereafter. Because they found Jahoda's behavior intimidating, teachers were reluctant to meet alone with the Assistant Principal in her office, behind closed doors. For example, Jahoda reduced seven teachers to tears on 12 separate occasions as a result of the way she spoke to them. And, although one of the teachers was inclined to cry easily, the same cannot be said of the other six. Additionally, Jahoda raised her voice at both Bellantoni and Abbott in front of their students. For example, Jahoda called Abbott "irresponsible" in a loud voice in front of students. In
addition, when meeting with Phyllis Veetal, a senior member of the department, Jahoda, who was called a "dictator" by Veetal, referred to the teacher either as a "disgusting person" or a person with "disgusting behavior."
Newer/ untenured teachers in the department were particularly intimidated by their Assistant Principal. Jahoda intimidated newer teachers by questioning their loyal tyto her. When Jn f o rmed by a senior teacher that some of the newer teachers were afraid of her, she stated that new teachers should be afraid of her; that she is their supervisor and has the power to keep them in their jobs. In this regard, Jahoda told Abbott that "she needs to decide what camp she is in;" that she should not "get caught in the crossfire." She warned other members of the department that she conducted their evaluations. She posted a per session position requiring as a qualification that the teacher "must have a good working relationship with Assistant Principal Jahoda."
Jahoda's intimidating comments to teachers also included the following; she called Bellantoni into her office and told her that a school secretary overheard her complaining about having to proctor a make up examination. Jahoda asked Bellantoni why she was speaking with other teachers, specifically Phyllis Veetal, after Jahoda saw the two "whispering." Jahoda told Bellantoni to be careful about speaking with senior members of the faculty. The Fact Finder concludes that these actions were designed to dissuade colleagues from speaking with one another or at a bare minimum, to keep them at arms' length. This is an anathema to the department's efforts to encourage articulation among faculty.
Teachers complained that Jahoda demeaned them, talking down to them as though they were children. For example, after Abbott made the mistake of leaving exams in an office on a desk instead of handing them to a specific teacher, Jahoda asked Abbott if she understood her instructions, after which she said, "If you heard my instructions and understood my instructions, why didn't you follow my instructions." The Fact Finder concludes that the statement and manner in which it was communicated was demeaning. Jahoda also insisted that teachers raise their hands before speaking at departmental meetings, thus treating them like children.
In May 2008 UFT District Representative Lynne Winderbaum sent Principal Reidy a copy of the Special Complaint that did not include the page of signatures from 20 of the 22 teachers in the math department, which the teachers asked not be shared because of their fear of retaliation. On May 20, 2008 Winderbaum met with Reidy and Jahoda for several hours in an attempt to resolve the teachers' complaints. Winderbaum and Reidy reached an agreement that included removing letters froin· teachers' files and an understanding that teachers would not meet with Jahoda in her private office, but would meet with her instead in her outer office, which was more public.* In a follow-up letter, Winderbaum confirmed their understanding. In that letter r she also agreed to Jahoda I s request that the Assistant Principal be permitted to tape record meetings in her private office.
The agreement between Reidy and Winderbaum broke down within days and Reidy advised Winderbaum to file the Special Complaint. Thereafter, then Chapter Leader Robert Lang asked Reidy to meet with the 20 complainants without Jahoda to attempt to resolve their issues. Reidy initially agreed to an "informal" meeting, but changed her mind when she learned that the group wanted Winderbaum to attend. Reidy stated that Winderbaum's attendance would "formalizen the meeting.
On June 10, 2008 Phillip had a planned postobservation conference scheduled with Jahoda. There is an audiotape of the half-hour meeting in which other math teachers attempted to participate and to which Reidy was called to Jahoda's office. The Fact Finder concludes that the following occurred during this rneeting= Phillip stated that she would prefer if a colleague joined her in the meeting, but never refused to meet with Jahoda alone. In fact, after others left, Jahoda met alone with Phillip and the conference was adj ourned at Jahoda I s request because she did not have the notes of her observation of Phillip.
Jahoda's tone with the teachers was confrontational and defensive and, at times, her voice was raised. She did
*There is a disagreement between Winderbaum and Reidy concerning whether Reidy agreed that another teacher from an agreed upon list could accompany a colleague to meetings with Jahoda.
not listen and can be heard to lecture the teachers in an officious manner. For example, with regard to the Special Complaint, Jahoda, in a raised voice, told the teachers "You're being misinformed." "Lynne told Valerie she's not filing it." Jahoda belittled the teachers' issues by stating that the special complaint "means nothing to us." Jahoda also denied that any agreement had been reached between Reidy and Winderbaurn for teachers to meet with her in her outside office, stating, "It's a matter of fact." "There was no agreement made at any point."
Reidy, on the other hand, attempted to bring clarity and closure to the issues. She suggested that Phillip meet wi th Jahoda with the door open. She acknowledged that she had negotiated a temporary resolution with Winderbaum and had been willing to meet with the special complainants alone. However, she questioned the fact that the special complaint was submitted to her without any signatures. She also stated, "I put that where it belonged. I put it in the shredder," a statement witnessed and testified to by a number of the special complainants.*
After June 10, 2008, neither Reidy nor Winderbaum made an attempt to resolve the Special Complaint. Then Chapter Leader Robert Lang, who had attempted to resolve the matter internally with Reidy, refused to proceed without Winderbaum being present. Moreover, Union Delegate Peter Lamphere, who became Chapter Leader, made no attempt at any time to reach out to the Principal to help resolve the Special Complaint.
Jahoda and Reidy both voiced their belief that Lamphere was responsible for the filing of the Special Complaint because problems between the teachers and the
*Nancy Philip recorded this conversation on June 10, 2008. Math teacher Jeremy Shahom gave the digital recorder to Philip. Shahom copied the audio file onto his word drive and e-mailed it to Philip. Phillip listened to the audiotape, which she identified as being an accurate recording of the conversation. The Union produced the aUdiotape of this meeting for impeachment purposes only after Reidy testified on direct that she did not refer to "shredding" the Special Complaint.
Assistant Principal arose following Jahoda giving both Lamphere and an untenured teacher, Tia Smith, "U" ratings. Jahoda acknowledged that she told teachers, "This is all Peter's doing." The Fact Finder concludes that Jahoda and Reidy failed to appreciate the seriousness of the complaints of 20 of the 22 teachers in the math department because of their assumpt.ion that Lamphere was the sale person behind the special complaint.
Following the start of the fact finding hearings, Jahoda became the target of at least one blogger, identified as a teacher at another school. The blog included the contents of private conversations Jahoda had with teachers in the math department and also included personal attacks on the Assistant Principal. While the Fact Finder appreciates the first amendment rights of teachers, nevertheless, the blog, which likely included entries posted by some of the special complainants, contributed to poisoning the environment at the school.
Upon evaluation of all of the evidence in the record, the Fact Finder concludes that there is substantiation for complaints of harassment and intimidation by Assistant Principal Rosemary Jahoda with regard to certain teachers, including but not limited to, Elizabeth Bellantoni, C~rolyn Abbott and Nancy Phillip. In addition to specific acts of intimidation such as those described above, the totality of Jahoda's treatment of teachers also constitutes harassment.
In reaching this conclusion, the Fact Finder credits the testimony of these three teachers concerning incidents of harassment and intimidation. It would be difficult to have heard the testimony of seven of the complainants, to have read the statements of the 13 others and to have listened to the June 10, 2008 audio recording of the meeting in Jahoda's office and not conclude that Jahoda has a confrontational style that is intimidating and demeaning and that the Assistant Principal is inclined to confront rather than to listen and reflect. The Fact Finder has little doubt that Jahoda's manner is a reflection of her frustration with teachers she perceived to resist her leadership and her concerns over complaints she believed were engineered by Chapter Leader Lamphere. Nevertheless,
were engineered by Chapter Leader Lamphere. Nevertheless, this does not undercut the legitimacy of the numerous complaints by teachers concerning the tone and manner in which Jahoda communicated with teachers.
The Fact Finder also concludes that PrinCipal Valerie Reidy did not provide ~adequate relieffl to the teachers as required under Article 23. Specifically ( Reidy made no attempt after June 10, 2008 to resolve the complaints. As a result of the absence of any resolution, the relationship between the teachers and the Assistant PrinCipal continued to deteriorate, taking a toll on all involved.
Finally, the Fact Finder spent eight days of hearing and other time over the past nine months listening to the issues and attempting to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary resolution of this matter in the best interest of the teachers, the administration, the students and the community at large, all of whom have become embroiled in the conflict. After hearing extensively from all concerned, the Fact Finder is convinced that the education community at the Bronx High School of Science, one of the flagship high schools of the Department of Education, needs to see substantial change to overcome the disruption caused by the events and to begin the healing process.
In light of my findings and conclusions, and in an effort to further the healing process at the school, I make the following recommendations. In doing so, I· recognize that all parties would have been better served by an early resolution to this conflict; that Assistant Principal Jahoda was new to a supervisory position; that Principal Reidy had given Jahoda a mandate for change; that teachers felt targeted by the Assistant Principal; and that because of personality issues, there was limited ability within the school to resolve the underlying problem.
1. That voluntarily and simultaneously and Peter Lamphere transfer out of School of Science.
Rosemary Jahoda the Bronx High
Now, therefore, I make the following recommendations:
2. That the issued to tenure.
School remove the Special
all "letters to Complainants during
the file" Jahoda's
3. That Principal Reidy engage the services of an experienced facilitator to work with the math department and the administration to establish mutual goals for the department and to build a cohesive unit.
4. That all actions affecting teachers who transferred from the school be rescinded.
Dated: April 1.5, 2010
STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF NEW YORK
I, CAROL WITTENBERG, do hereby affirm upon my oath as Arbitrator that I am the individual described in and who executed this instrument, which is my award
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