In New York City – as with so many other places around the country – it’s generally a sadly accepted assumption that once a teacher in the public school system achieves tenure, they are in place for life. It doesn’t matter if you turn out to be a pedophile, a sexual predator or violent madman, thanks to the power of the teachers unions, your taxpayer funded paycheck is pretty much safe for life. At most, you might be sent to sit in a rubber room. Heck, in the current case of Sean Shaynak, you can collect your pay while sitting in jail on charges of kidnapping and trading good grades in exchange for sex with children.
But if the reports are true, Public School 78 in the Bronx has broken the mold after a series of drawn out court proceedings and actually succeeded in firing Jason Roberts.
A judge has refused to stop New York City education officials from firing a Bronx schoolteacher for what they described as years of abusive behavior toward students and insubordination toward administrators.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton (See Profile) decided in Matter of Roberts v. Department of Education of the City of New York, 100274/2014, that Roberts was given ample opportunity to answer the allegations about his misconduct in an exhaustive administrative hearing, but failed to cast doubt on a hearing officer’s findings that his dismissal was warranted.
This was still no easy feat, and Roberts had to run up quite the record in order to finally get the boot, including threatening a mass shooting.
Jason Roberts, 36, was fired from Public School 78 in February for a slew of offenses, including allegedly telling a colleague, “Don’t worry, when bullets fly I will spare you and your family.”
Court filings say Roberts was hit with 33 allegations of wrongdoing between 2010 and 2013.
In that time, he allegedly warned that “bullets are going to fly;” blew a whistle directly into a student’s ear; gave another teacher the finger; spat on a student; hung up on the principal; told students they could attack another student and break his glasses; passed gas in students’ faces; threw a block of wood at a student, and shouted things like “bitch,” “white devil” and “suck a goat’s ass” when talking to students, parents and colleagues, according to court papers.
He was given the boot after a hearing officer found his conduct “disgraceful.”
So have we finally found a case so egregious that even the teachers unions would throw up their hands and turn their back on one of their own? Was this the example which tipped the scales and showed them that sometimes you have to cut a member loose?
A [*7]review of the transcript of the eighteen-day §3020-a hearing reveals that petitioner was afforded all the necessary elements of due process. Throughout his §3020-a hearing, petitioner was represented by union counsel, received ample notice of the charges against him and a full opportunity to contest them, called witnesses to testify on his behalf, cross-examined witnesses who testified on respondent’s behalf, introduced evidentiary exhibits, and testified on his own behalf.
Even if nothing is changing on the side of the unions, this may shine a slender ray of hope for parents with children in public schools. While it took what amounted to a three year reign of terror and the threat of another Sandy Hook style shooting, a teacher has been removed from the public payroll. If one can go, others might follow.