Campbell Brown has a piece in The Wall Street Journal today about how the teachers unions are protecting pedophiles. In a nutshell, arbitrators are hired to come up with punishments for teachers accused of misconduct or worse, and some of these arbitrators make as much as $1,400 per day. It is in their financial interest to pass along weak punishments to keep the unions happy. So deviant teachers get off with a slap on the wrist and get to keep their jobs. It’s getting so bad that many teachers are now criticizing their unions because this really demeans the profession. This has to change.
One example: An arbitrator in 2007 found that teacher Alexis Grullon had victimized young girls with repeated hugging, “incidental though not accidental contact with one student’s breast” and “sexually suggestive remarks.” The teacher had denied all these charges. In the end the arbitrator found him “unrepentant,” yet punished him with only a six-month suspension.
Another example from 2007: Teacher William Scharbach was found to have inappropriately touched and held young boys. “Respondent’s actions at best give the appearance of impropriety and at worst suggest pedophilia,” wrote the arbitrator—before giving the teacher only a reprimand. The teacher didn’t deny the touching but denied that it was inappropriate.
Then there was teacher Steven Ostrin, who in 2010 was found to have asked a young girl to give him a striptease, harassed students by text, and engaged in sexual banter. The arbitrator in his case concluded that since the teacher hadn’t actually solicited sex from students, the charges—all of which the teacher denied—warranted only a suspension.
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.”
I don’t know if this article is behind a paywall, if not, read the whole thing. There’s an initiative in the New York State Senate to make it so these well-paid arbitrators don’t have the final say. But for this legislation to go anywhere, for some strange reason, they need union support. Decent teachers need to step up and tell their unions to stop protecting pedophiles.
Isn’t it amazing that while teachers in New York City get away with stalking young children, all Mayor Bloomberg is worried about is what people eat and whether or not new mothers breast feed? Geez, let’s hope he doesn’t have ambitions for higher office.
Update: Da TechGuy linked – thanks!