Michael Loeb, a middle school teacher in the Bronx and UFT member, calls this a “horrible situation,” telling me “if you keep these people in the classroom, you are demeaning our profession.”
Parents I spoke with described their tremendous fear about what is happening in the classroom. Maria Elena Rivera says her 14-year-old daughter was stalked by one of her Brooklyn high school teachers (who resigned from his position before the Department of Education decided whether to send the case to arbitration). Today her daughter is in counseling, says Ms. Rivera, and doesn’t trust anyone: “It so messed her up. I can’t protect her.”
Local media have begun to get the word out, yet the stories come and go with trifling consequences or accountability. New York City’s schools chancellor and districts statewide must have the power to fire sexual predators—and the final say cannot be that of an arbitrator with incentives to lessen the punishment.
Fortunately, state Sen. Stephen Saland has proposed legislation in Albany to do just this, removing arbitrators’ final say while still giving teachers due process and the opportunity to appeal terminations in court.