Monday, January 24, 2011

Jim Callaghan Comments on Principal Iris Blige Outrage: Charges UFT Protected Blige

"Mulgrew should save his outrage about the Blige case for the UFT comic pages"- 
"Weingarten told me that most teachers in the rubber rooms were guilty and crazy"
-----Former NY Teacher reporter Jim Callaghan

We always knew the UFT leaders took the side of administrators but now we have it from the horse's mouth. A must read below is Callaghan's exposure of how the UFT leaders abandoned a teacher at Blige's school who had trumped up charges filed against her and was fired.

The UFT allows attack on chapter leaders to go unanswered - I could go into a bunch of stuff - but when the very lifeblood of the union is under assault it calls for drastic action. I even put up a reso at the DA calling for special protections and cover for chapter leaders over 10 years ago that was overwhelmingly turned down by Unity Caucus.

Blige is the poster girl for why we need tenure and LIFO. She went after teachers for no reason, was found guilty but instead of dumping her she was fined $7000. Chump change.

Here are some background stories:

Bronx principal keeps her job after imperiling the jobs of others ...
Ruining careers for $475/month (18 month term) « JD2718

And Ed Notes covered it a bunch of times:

Education Notes Online: Teachers Protest Principal Iris Blige at ..

Mar 13, 2009 ... The principal at this school, Iris Blige, is abusive, arrogant, and disrespectful of teachers. She has framed several teachers that for some ... - Cached - Similar

Education Notes Online: UPDATE: Highlights of the protest at ..

Mar 14, 2009 ... Winderbaum slammed into Iris Blige and her wayward approach to educators, kids, and schools and said the union is “fed up” with the DoE's ... - Cached

As long as they support principals who engage in vendettas against teachers, they will have to drag teachers kicking and screaming out of fighting for protections.Jim Callaghan was the NY Teacher reporter who did the most intensive work exposing the Bliges of this world - until he was fired in July 2010 for attempting to organize a union of reporters at the UFT. Here is a report on what went on behind the scenes in a comment he left at Gotham Schools story on Blige:

What the UFT Did and Didn't Do in the Blige Case
by Jim Callaghan, former reported for the NY Teacher

Klein knew all about Blige and the recantation of an Assistant Principal because I wrote about it in the Spring of 2009 for the New York Teacher. It didn’t take a special Condon “investigation” to uncover the Blige horror show, supported by Mulgrew and Weingarten.

I quoted members who said Blige specifically went after chapter leaders and sent them to the rubber rooms on trumped up charges-they were never charged with anything and were all sent back to the classroom.

That was the last article I was allowed to write about Blige.

When the union had a rally on March 13, 2009, Weingarten sent out a press advisory (I have a copy) knocking the total number of protesters down to 50 after she was told that 500 would attend. So even then the union was protecting Blige.

The worst case of the Weingarten- Mulgrew Vichy collaboration involves the teacher accused of leaving a letter in Blige’s mailbox threatening to murder her! The letter said there was a “gang” led by the teacher who would kill the principal and her son.

Fifteen cops came to the school, interviewed no one except the teacher, lied to her and said they had her on video leaving the letter in the principal’s mailbox and had her fingerprints on the letter.

Then they changed the story to say it was her handwriting on the letter, which was announced by an Assistant Principal- tape recorded by a member- one week later- that was in February, 2009.

Now: think Tucson and the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords: What happened to the teacher after one “expert” detective said it was the teacher’s handwriting?

NOTHING! It is a New York State felony to threaten the murder of a public official. Nothing happened to the teacher until eight weeks later, in April, 2009, after I called Blige for a comment on my story.
The next day, the teacher was arrested and charged with a misdeameanor. (Even if she is found guilty, she will serve 15 days of community service picking up garbage on the Grand Concourse).

The Bronx D.A.- elected with help from the UFT- did not ask for bail, didn’t ask for the teacher’s passport to be lifted and the principal never asked for extra police protection for Blige, parents, students and the staff.

Despite my urging, Weingarten refused to call the D.A. and ask that he personally look at the case. There was no police probe of the gang. The teacher -this horrible accused murderer beloved by her students and colleagues-- was sent back to the rubber room.

Nearly two years later, after the D.A. Robert Johnson asked for 15 postponements, there has been no trial and the case is still open.

What would have happened if a teacher wrote a letter like that to Bloomberg of Klein?

The teacher ultimately lost her job because neither Mulgrew nor Weingarten nor NYSUT lawyer Claude Hirsch lifted a finger to help her. She never had a 3020A hearing. Klein used a loophole in the law saying he could refuse to approve her application for a work visa if she was merely “accused” of misconduct.

Incredibly, Weingarten and Mulgrew allowed this shanda, like so many others they were complicit in, to stand unchallenged. So the only question still open is: what did they get out of it for themselves and
their UFT cronies?

My editor Deidre McFadyen and staff director LeRoy Barr denied me a vacation day-for the first time since I worked at the union- so I could attend the teacher’s court hearing on my own time--to give her moral support (I have the Barr email).

Weingarten pulled my story the day after the teacher got arrested; Weingarten, Barr, Mulgrew and others all said she was guilty- because she had been arrested. Weingarten told me the teacher was “guilty” because she had “heard” ---from another UFT Staff Director Garry Sprung- that the cops had the teacher’s fingerprints on the letter. I asked Weingarten when the grand jury met, when the teacher was indicted, when she was convicted and when she had exhausted all her appeals.

I had to shame Weingarten the Lawyer/ part-time “teacher” into finally running the story-two weeks after the arrest- after I reminded her about the 6th Amendment (Weingarten told me that most teachers in the rubber rooms were guilty and crazy, which is why I was allowed to run only one rubber room story-in October 2007).

When an Assistant Principal wanted to tell me the story about how she helped frame the teacher, Mulgrew, Barr and McFadyen refeused to let me run the story and Mulgrew wouldn’t even call the D.A. to say he was sending over an important witness to help clear the teacher.

So it is clear- I have lots more on this story and other Weingarten-Mulgrew cover ups of corruption outside and within the union- that the UFT leaders were protecting Klein and the members could
go to hell in a hand basket.

Weingarten $200,000 vacation days myth - or theft of service from the union
The Blige case is one of many that will stand out as the defining Weingarten-Mulgrew legacy of cowardice, double-dealing and abusing the rights of members whose dues they collect for their fat $400,000 salaries, unlimited expenses, a car and driver and “I never took a day off in 24 years” benefits but then refuse to represent them. (The Cal Ripken award for never missing a day’s work goes to Weingarten, except for this inconvenient truth: she took plenty of vacation days, some disguised as AFT “fact-finding” missions and others at her Amagansett country home where she instructed her press office and NY Teacher editors to send her faxes so she could claim she was “working from
home.” Uh- huh- just like every teacher working from home on the beach.

I blame Klein and Blige but Weingarten, Mulgrew, Barr and McFadyen could have exposed this horrible principal two years ago and chose instead to be part of the cover up, as they were at so many other schools which you will be reading about shortly.

When Mulgrew fired me in August 2010 for organizing a union-after 13 years of praise from him, Weingarten and hundreds of UFT officials and the members, he told the press I was unprofessional!
And what other word can we use to describe his perfidy and Weingarten’s abandonment of an accused teacher who came to America from Jamaica to fulfill the immigrant’s dream yet was crushed by the DOE-UFT steamroller?

If there was ever a PERB case for non-representation, this was it- although I lived through so many others when I had to argue with my editor McFadyen and the Weingarten-Mulgrew apparatchiks like Barr, Ellie Engler and McFadyen to get the stories in the union newspaper.

Mulgrew is so paranoid and vicious that he had McFadyen -at $150,000 a year---sit for days on end and go through the New York Teacher archives on line and take stories like Blige off the web site- she has disappeared into the dark hole of corruption that exists at the union. Mulgrew even ordered my name off the obit of Jack Newfield, who once wrote for the union!

How low can a such a self-styled tough guy get? Stay tuned- lots more to come.

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