All Lehman teachers may keep their jobs

All Lehman teachers may keep their jobs
A teacher expresses his views during a public hearing before the Panel for Educational Policy voted to “turnaround” Lehman and nine other borough schools.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

New name, same teachers.

An arbitrator’s ruling appears to have tossed out the city Department of Education plan to force teachers and administrators assigned to Lehman High School to reapply for their jobs.

The school, along with nine other Bronx schools and 24 citywide, is part of a DOE reorganization plan that renames it Throggs Neck HS.

The arbitrator’s June 29 decision was in response to legal action by United Federation of Teachers and Council of Supervisors & Administrators.

The federal “turnaround” model being used by the DOE for Lehman could have seen half its teachers either looking for placement in other city schools or in a citywide substitute pool.

“Today’s decision is an injustice to our children that – if allowed to stand – will hurt thousands of students and compromise their futures,” Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement after the decision. “The ruling puts the career interests of adults ahead of the educational needs of children, and it contradicts the State Department of Education’s decision authorizing our plan to move forward.”

But the UFT and CSA argue the closures were a ‘sham’, with the DOE trying to get around its labor agreements.

“The Department of Education has tried to ‘close’ 24 schools and immediately re-open them under new names,” the UFT and CSA said in a joint statement. “An independent arbitrator has found that, for purposes of our contracts, the “new” schools that the Department of Education claims it is creating this way are in reality not new schools. As such, the DOE’s attempts to remove half the personnel in these schools are a violation of the school district’s contracts with the unions.”

The closing of the school should be seen as an admission of defeat by the DOE, causing children, educators, and the entire school community to suffer, said CSA spokeswoman Chiara Coletti.

The teachers and administrators believe that there needs to be an early warning system in place to identify struggling schools, and work to harder to fix them prior to shutting them down, doing so transparently, Coletti said.

“The judge ruled that the matter should be settled by arbitration and the arbitrator’s remedy should be accepted,” Coletti said. “The DOE agreed to that; however, now that there is a decision that DOE doesn’t like, DOE is going back to court to say they don’t wish to abide by it.”

Councilman Jimmy Vacca declined comment saying that the situation could change at any time. Vacca previously stated that the Lehman had only had a few years of failing school grades, and that many of its issues likely stem from problems after the departure of longtime-principal Robert Leder.

Senator Jeff Klein said that the school needs reinvestment, giving its present day students the same opportunities as their parents.

“Reinvesting in Lehman High School is an opportunity to make this educational landmark the type of school that we’ve all hoped it can be,” Klein said. “In doing so, we need to provide not only for our students, but also for the teachers who work so hard, day-in and day-out, to produce the best possible graduates.”

The DOE is now challenging the decision and all parties were due back in court in Manhattan on Tuesday, July 10. Please see for any major updates after press time.

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