Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jeff Storobinsky Exposes The Truth in Brooklyn

The Crack Team is pleased to welcome once again guest blogger and retired teacher Jeff Storobinsky to share a few words.

For those who don't recall these pages shared some of Jeff's story back in June.

Jeff is in the process of suing his tormentors with The Crack Team's favorite attorney, Bryan Glass, representing him.

In today's post, Jeff exposes and names his tormentor. Read on!

A NYC Teacher’s quest to restore his name and reputation.  I’m Jeff Storobinsky and I proudly approved this message.

This is NARRATIVE # 5, which continues my story to seek justice and restore my name.

I will just summarize.

I am 55 years old, and taught for 30 years without a blemish of any sort, ever. A new principal (age 32) comes in last summer and decides to target me. I leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.

I shall name this Principal and the school later on in this narrative.

For many years, I handled key quasi-administrative operations. I was trusted to get the job done and did. This was in addition to handling the technology needs of the building. These years had me teaching with a reduced assignment (less teaching periods).

There are those who might like to minimize my effectiveness and importance in my profession but that’s because they have always been part of the problem, not the solution. For 30 straight years, with 4 Principals with differing leadership styles, and having had an absolutely flawless record and file which speaks for itself is how I characterize my career. One cannot fake success and accomplishments over 30 years.

This past year, many of these key responsibilities were done, poorly or ineffectively at best, sparking debate within the school.

The school had on average 755 students. How many assistant principals do you need for such a school register? 1?, 2? , 3? Well, we had 4.  A stellar 67 year old Guidance Counselor who was there his entire career was excessed in September, 2013 to make room for 2 new APs to be brought in shortly thereafter. After floating through at least 10 schools as an ATR (SUB) for the 2013-14 school year, he retired; not when he planned though. UFT help: NONE.

During my brief stay there during the 2013-14 school year, I politely asked the principal to reduce my assignment by a few periods (as was normally the case and was the case with others during this school year) so that I may better serve the school.

He then went around saying "Mr. Storobinsky does not want to teach”

What happens when I left? The principal then put TWO teachers into the technology room.

During this past school year there have been investigations into questionable school practices too.

Mind you, the principal is INTERIM ACTING.

Let’s now go back to the beginning.

I met this principal last September and within weeks I was on his hit list. My life was made a living hell, the worst emotional pain and suffering one can ever endure. I was under a doctor’s care during this time suffering from extreme stress and depression.

In February, 2014, I involuntarily retired, having been seemingly blackmailed into it.

For much more precise and pinpoint evidence, search through my previous postings and uploads made to FB in late June and July.

If you cannot find them request them and I will post them into the comments.

I also wish to mention that the UFT chapter leader instead of encouraging me to stay and fight and telling me that the UFT will stand behind you flat out told me “RETIRE”. I understand this as he is retiring in 1 or 2 years and like many chapter leaders, look out for themselves first and wish to stay on the principal’s good side. The UFT district rep proved equally worthless too as a very close ally of his who works at my former school lied and said that the district rep did not have a cellphone number.

Of course it will be argued that nobody forced me out that I left on my own (Legal term: Constructively discharged ).

However I equate it with the following: God forbid, if you are on the 61st floor of a burning building and your choices are succumb to the smoke and fire or jump which would you do? I jumped.

After I left, my fiancé, Marisol Perez, an exemplary 17 year bilingual paraprofessional was subjected to humiliation and threatened by the principal   “don’t be caught up in the web”, an obvious reference to her stating to her colleagues that I was forced out.

She herself fears retaliation as do other teachers from this very same school that have come forward with their stories that were published on Money Over Age.

I have taught technology since 2000 and had outstanding classroom management and instructional skills.

I was observed twice in one week in early late in 2013.

The first class, was a newly created hybrid class of troublesome students created and programmed into certain teacher’s schedules so that observing them would be easy to prove teacher ineffectiveness.

When I was observed with this class I had no experience with this class or established routines in place yet. The second observation that Friday was with a better class and I was engaged in a meaningful lesson and had lesson plan in hand with this class too.

It is not until June that I find out that I was deemed ineffective ( I never received a hard copy report of the  observations ) and received a rating of UNSATISFACTORY which prevents me from working for the NYCDOE in any capacity post retirement.

Now the reason for the “U”:  In June of this year, the principal was putting forth his time schedule for this September. I, being in touch with many of my colleagues on a regular basis advised them via text what I felt was in their best interests, and to not feel pressured to vote a certain way since the principal had his own people trying to push his agenda.

The Principal calls me in June and warns me “not to communicate with his teachers” This phone call was RECORDED by my smartphone Call recording app.

After this phone call, it was relayed to me that I got the UNSATISFACTORY for sharing with friends my opinions; and that if I stopped, the UNSATISFACTORY could go away.

Earlier on, AFTER my retirement, there was phone conversation between the principal and me. In this conversation he says to me those ineffective observations would be discarded. Two things I have to emphasize; this was AFTER I had retired and that the phone call was RECORDED by my smartphone’s telephone call recording app as well.

I hereby go public with the announcement that I have filed a formal complaint and that the principal as well as his superiors and his superior’s superiors have or will be receiving a copy of my complaint shortly.  My complaint is based on multiple counts of discrimination; 3 to be exact.

Let me briefly outline the 3 areas of discrimination I have experienced and am claiming in my complaint.

First : Age. I was encouraged from our first conversations to  retire with the promise of unlimited “f status” or per session” He claimed and bragged How he would call up all the principals in our district convincing them of my worth.  This was just bait to encourage me to leave.

He then goes on to say that I am teaching technology to sixth graders out of license with my Common Branch license. When I said I can teach Math which I taught from 1984-2000 he replied with  “really ? Nah, you need to relax and chill at this part of your life” This part of my life? Really? Was I just told I’m too old to be doing this?

Stunned and bewildered, I left his office. Later that night I emailed him and told him politely I will stay on the job to 2016 or beyond, I do not think he liked that.

Lastly on this, referencing his past he referred to a former colleague as “an old Jewish guy”. Much more exists on this particular complaint of age discrimination.

Second: Physical disability. I am 75% deaf. My concerns to him of how I was discriminated against fell on deaf ears.

Third: Race. Of approximately 60-70 staff members servicing and teaching students, I was the only Caucasian permanent staff member left.

One of these acts of discrimination is horrendous, two are staggering, what are three equal to?

I obviously cannot touch upon everything or what my complete evidence is. Recorded phone conversations and voice recordings made from a smartphone are only part of it.

The NYCDOE Corporation Counsel will be sending the Principal himself a copy of this complaint too, as the complaint has to be responded to.

My former Principal’s name is Dr. Shannon Burton and he is the Principal of MS61 in District 17, Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

He is formerly from Yonkers’ Roosevelt High School and most recently from Prospect Height HS in Brooklyn where he served in both schools as an assistant principal.

Money Over Age and its over 8,000 followers and nearly 250,000 readers have been extremely supportive of not only me but other teachers who have fallen victim to Principals without principles.

I fear some retaliation on my reputation but am quite prepared to handle that. More importantly I am concerned about retaliation on my fiancé Ms. Perez, who returns there September 2nd, but she is up to the challenge and is quite strong.

Nothing will ever erase the depression I was in and the toll it took on me physically, mentally and emotionally.

If the NYCDOE has allowed this Interim Acting Principal to become appointed then a great injustice to civil rights would have occurred.

An example needs to be set for what proper conduct for a principal should be.

Principals in their early 30s are too young, being closer in age to their students then the median age of their faculty.

Of importance too is to diversify schools with faculty staffing and students.

Please keep Marisol and I in your thoughts and prayers as we go forward.

Whatever the outcome is, we can handle it.

God bless, Jeff

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The UFT Fool Follows Al Sharpton

I have been away for a week. Went on a little baseball road trip with the family.

So a lot has happened in the last week. The UFT not only supported Rev. Al's march in Staten Island, but was paying for buses to transport marchers to Staten Island.

Oh, and the UFT soon hid it's support on Facebook by deleting the posts in support of the march after several hundred pissed off comments.

Firstly, what happened in Staten Island was wrong. Do I think that people of color are treated differently by than others my some NYPD officers? Yes. Does this effect the way the community interacts with NYPD? Yes. Should the UFT have supported this march? No way.

The UFT showed it's hypocrisy in supporting the march for the act of one police officer. We as teachers are broad brushed day in and day out by the acts of a very few. We are railed against, beaten down and left on an island without any support. By making this march about the UFT's involvement we have put the 99% of officers of the NYPD who do the right thing in the shoes we don't like being forced to wear by outsiders.

At a time when we as teachers and a union need all the support and backing we can get to show a lack of support to our union brethren is not right. Yes, it's been said that the NYCPBA has done squat for us, well someone has to step up and do squat first, why not the UFT?

And, how can we support anything the Rev. Al is leading? Let's not forget his Wall Street Journal article he co-wrote with Joel Klein. Or his traveling roadshow with Newt Gingrich and Arne Duncan. Or what he truly feels about charters. And lest we forget some of the silly things Rev. Al has said in the past. Or the tax evasion, being an FBI informant, or Steven Pagones.

The UFT could have showed it's support for the community in other ways than endorsing this march.

We as teachers could have been asked or encouraged to go out into that Staten Island community and found common cause with the citizens. We as teachers have been subject to heavy handed tactics by Tweed and worse, SCI. We, both teachers and the Staten Island community have been affected by the last 20 years in this city of a top down, heavy handed, oligarchy, near police state by our elected officials and those at 1 Police Plaza.

Why has education been so able to go down the proverbial toilet? Because the citizenry is isolated from being heard (Hence, network offices 2 hours away by subway) which has enabled education to be controlled by a few of those 1 percenters who do not care one iota about those of color. The UFT missed it's chance. This is what the UFT should be marching about.

I don't begrudge Rev. Al having this march. It is his right and plenty do believe in him. I don't.

Nor do I condone those that live in their mommy's basements, drink Pabst, read about Che Guevara and Eugene Debs or bathe in months ending in Y. These people are immature and ignorant.

What bothers me and The Crack Team is Randi marching right next to Rev. Al and wearing a AFT shirt and Mulgrews involvement and thinking he knows what is best for the rank and file.

If Randi and Mikey want to march with Rev. Al, fine. Don't do it on my dime, The Crack Team's dime, or any other members dime.

It's time they start listening to the membership.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Michael Agona's Conflicted Appeal Interest

The Crack Team was able to obtain the transcript of Lydia Howrilka's U-rating appeal as well as the decision brought forth by the Chancellor's Committee chaired by Michael Agona.

Some takeaways.

No one from the prosecuting side seemed organized. Not only did they seem not prepared, but extremely disorganized as well.

We learned a F-status former principal, Dr Rosa Maria Leon, was brought in to work with Lydia but according to Lydia never did. Lydia's principal, Arisleyda Ureña contradicted Lydia.

For those who are wondering who Dr Leon is;
...was born and raised in Spanish Harlem. Having been an English language learner student herself, Dr. Leon’s mission was to understand the process of second language acquisition so that students are able to become English proficient, and at the same time, progress academically. Dr. Leon completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Hunter College followed by three Master’s Degrees: Bilingual Education (First graduating class in NYC), Reading Specialist, and Administration and Supervision. She then continued her education by graduating from Fordham University with a Doctoral Degree. Her Doctoral dissertation is based on a longitudinal study following a bilingual class from Kindergarten to the 4th grade to determine factors that contribute to the successful acquisition of English proficiency and academic success. This dissertation may be obtained from the Fordham Library.
One can be hard pressed to see how Dr Leon has a background in high school social studies, but right now that is neither here no there.

But, as a consultant, or F-status as well as a former principal, one can wonder if she has had or currently has a professional relationship or personally knows Michael Agona. If this is true, should Agona have let Lydia and the UFT know?

As one reads the transcript at no time did Agona share that he is also a paid consultant (assisting principals in U-rating teachers) for the DOE.

Is it possible that Agona in his capacity as a consultant assisted Lydia's principal, Arisleyda Ureña, to U-rate her? If true, should he not have recused himself from this hearing?  In fact how many hearing has Agona presided over in which he assisted a principal in a U-rating?

Are Agona's decisions, actions, verdicts, in these hearings tied to whether or not he will continue on as consultant?

What is Agona's rate of pay for these hearings? Is he paid by the hearing? If so, it would seem the more teachers that are U-rated the more hearings there would be in effect giving Agona more hearings  to preside over.

Did Agona, going into the hearing, have his mind made up? Reading the transcript (Which The Crack Team took the time to highlight certain points) there seems to be plenty of doubt on the administration's side.

Did Agona influence, or worse, pressure, the other two committee members into returning a recommendation that Lydia be discontinued?

We here at SBSB know that Agona's double life was brought up at Lydia's Article 78 hearing and from what we heard, the judge upon hearing about Agona was somewhat flaklempt when she heard.

Did Lydia Howrilka get a fair hearing, an impartial hearing?

Are Michael Agona's actions Kosher?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Does Michael Agona Have Any Ethics?

Michael Agona is like an onion. As one peels back the layers on his nefarious dealings, there becomes more to see. We decided to touch on a link from last week's blog post about Agona.

Very quickly. In 2006, teacher, Yolanda Strong, was accused of corporal punishment at her Queens school (PS 52) and received a U rating for the year.

Ms Strong requested and received a U rating review before the Chancellor's Committee on February 8, 2008. The chairperson of the committee at the time was none other than Michael Agona. Agona recommended that Ms Strong;
 engaged in corporal punishment and recommended to terminate any and all license(s)/certificate(s) held by petitioner
This was six years ago. Long story short, Ms Strong appealed this, went to Article 78 and it appears that the case finally ran out of steam last year.

But this blog post is not about Ms Strong, it is about Michael Agona and the cloud of pollution that follows him.

The Crack Team has not be able to ascertain or acquire any definitive proof that Agona was paid for anything other than his position he possessed in 2007. However, there is a concern.

Was his consulting business, so lavishly paid by the city, able to not only begin, but to succeed due to Agona's decisions he made as chairperson of the Chancellor's Committe?

Let's assume for a minute that in 2007 Agona did not have a consulting business, that he was just the chairperson of that committee. Is it possible that as a reward for Agonato continue to deny appeals he was able to seamlessly segueway into the world of education consulting with the DOE? Are the positions he fills now part of a quid pro quo with the DOE?

Why would he go into consulting? Of course, there is much more money in consulting than being a chairperson of a committee. 

But why couldn't Agona use his knowledge and powers for good and not for evil? It seems that Agona is only happy, and paid, if he is consulting and/or conspiring, to ruin the careers of teachers across the city.

Not only does it appear that Agona has an ethical conflict in his deals with the NYCDOE but he seems to harbor quite a bit of animus to the teachers of NYC.

We here at SBSB call for an investigation post haste on Agona's dealing with the city. Too many careers were ruined, put at risk, or can be at risk because of a man, a man it seems with a vendetta.

That man is Michael Agona.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NYCDOE Consultant Michael Agona Gets Caught in the Honey Jar

With all the talk lately of lawsuits to do away with tenure and mean tweets, it appears that no one wishes to get to the bottom of why the schools are so messed up; those that are in charge and that make the decisions. Shouldn't this mess be cleaned up?

As many have read in my own story of why tenure is needed, I touched on a paid NYCDOE consultant (Michael Agona) who also doubles as a "supposed" fair and impartial hearing officer when teachers appeal their U ratings;
Michael Agona is a retired principal that is currently a NYCDOE consultant. Michael Agona is paid quite a bit of money from the DOE to assist principals on how to U-rate teachers  In 2011 the DOE hired him for 3 years @$40k per to assist principals wishing to be rid of teachers (Item #9). This contract with the DOE should be expiring within the next few weeks. 

In fact, he was one of the "fair and impartial" hearing officers when Lydia Howrilka appealed her U-rating. What gives?? This is a form of double dipping or corruption, no?

The Crack Team came upon more, oh how shall we say, "curiosities" regarding Michael Agona through Open NYC.(Click to enlarge)
But that is not what has The Crack Team's bloomers all in a tizzy, this does; (Click to enlarge);
Michael Agona seems to have done quite well for himself while taking advantage of the largesse of the City of New York. We here at SBSB sarcastically say, "Kudos, Michael!"

When we add up all the money in the above chart, (And not including that charge for $1,575,000) Michael Agona made off with $245,000. Add in the biggie, and that comes to a total of $1,820,000. That is a lot of consulting. It's good to be a consultant, eh, Michael?

Now, The Crack Team does not know, or can't tell, if these were payments were for Michael Agona's consulting or his side job, rejecting teachers appeals (Or is it the other way around). The Crack Team tends to think that it is for consulting and various other methods Michael Agona has kept his hand in the honey jar since he retired as principal from PS 32 in Brooklyn. But the stench emanating from Michael Agona is pungent and repulsive, that just writing about him and discussing him The Crack Team is planning on taking a collective Silkwood shower when moments after this is posted.

But there is a problem, a big problem? This is a man that conspired to remove me from my direct deposit and was supposed to be fair and impartial hearing officer for Lydia Howrilka. How many other teachers, particularly at PS 154 was he consulted on to ruin their careers? And, how many teachers went before him expecting to get a fair hearing and never, ever had a chance with him?

So many things stink about this, this, CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Yeah, that is what it is, heck it might be worse, but sticking with CONFLICT OF INTEREST for now.

Is Michael Agona's consulting in any way connected to his results as a "fair and impartial" hearing officer?

Has Michael Agona ever presided over a hearing in which a principal he consulted for was the main witness and if so, was this information shared with the Union representative and the teacher?

Did Michael Agona ever use his stature to assist other hearing officers to also consult for the DOE?

Did Agona ever ask leading questions of a principal he consulted for in a hearing?

Did Agona ever deny a request to a teacher and/or their representative because he was afraid it might put him in a bad light?

Did Agona ever put pressure on other hearing officers to rule with him?

To what was Michael Agona's main allegiance to? The money or the truth?

And the teachers are the reason for all the issues in education?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Campbell Brown Plays the Victim

In yesterday's New York Post there was an article pertaining to some bashing on Twitter that
Campbell Brown fell prey to last week.

As the Post reported;
"Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, a leading opponent of teacher tenure, accused her pro-teacher-union foes Sunday of using soft-core Twitter porn to shamelessly smear her."
Smear? Harsh, but one must read on. Accusing "pro-teacher union foes"? Even harsher.

First let's go on record here that we here at SBSB do not condone in any way, shape, or form the alleged vulgarities tossed Campbell Brown's way. We find it abhorrent and certainly not helpful We also do not condone any attacking of her children personally.

As for as her husband, Dan Senor, we feel that since he is a public figure, has served on the board of StudentsFirstNY, and is culpable for the mess in Iraq, he is fair game. But right now that is neither here no there.

The Post also mentioned a real anti-Campbell Twitter account and it's corresponding website in the article. Why they lumped that in is clear. Seems the Post wishes to discredit a real site aimed at real issues that had to be debunked by the Post's propaganda machine.

But something reeks in the State of Denmark vis a vis the Post and Campbell's stories.

We here became of aware of this on Friday, and pointed it out to many (That all was a hoax), when we saw tweets from @datadiva;

Now the stench is getting stronger.
One tweet seems to come from right wing, Tea Partier Congressman Louie Gohmert, but the handle is different than the congressman's. The Crack Team at first thought that someone had either hacked or spoofed the congressman's account.

The same with NewsMax Health, @mort_mcgirt, alleging to be NewsMax Health. For those that aren't aware, NewsMax is a right wing weekly news magazine.

So what you have is tweets from two accounts appearing to be from right wingers attacking the right wing dream; no more tenure for teachers, a stink bomb, no? And even if they were super-duper hard left liberals, we here at SBSB have never seen such invective from such people.

Yet, on the same scale, neo-liberal, Elevate New Mexico commented even though not one of these tweets were directed to him, nor even found on his timeline or tweeted to any of his allies (The usual cast of deform characters), was able to locate these tweeters through all of the 1000's of tweets.

A new member of The Crack Team, Wanda, representing the Southern Tier of New York State accessed the SBSB computers and came to the conclusion that all the accounts above, including @derpjonson, all used the same syntax. The Crack Team found out all are followed or followers of @gomurica as well. Perhaps they all can very well can be the same person?

OK, fine, if they are the same person, or not, why? What is the point. And why was Randi Weingarten mentioned in the tweets? How coincidental that these tweets were out within a few days of the launch of "The Real Campbell Brown" website? A website in which Campbell's lackeys are whining about profusely and can't even refute any facts.

Wanda, along with the rest of The Crack Team and many others have opined that this was all a set up. That these tweets, these twitter handles, were all devised by Campbell Brown's people to not only discredit the righteous, but worse, to make Campbell Brown a victim and to garner sympathy. This alone just goes to show how low Campbell Brown will sink to have her name bandied about in a flattering manner. Nothing, is about the plaintiffs in this Wright V New York State. It is all Campbell, all the time.

Why, and we have it on good authority that the United States Capitol Police have been notified, that USCP has not shut down the accont impersonating  Congressman Gohmert? Why haven't the twitter accounts of the offending tweets mentioned in the Post been shut down? Without a doubt, the rules of Twitter have been violated. So who can be behind all this?

Only someone with the connections of Campbell Brown along with the powerful PR handlers on her side can orchestrate such a devious plot. A plot to shine the blue light of sympathy upon her and to shame any and all connected with teachers unions. This is a new low for Campbell Brown, but sure enough will be followed by new even lower lows. How else to explain how the Post got all over this?

And if this were a real attack on Campbell Brown we here at SBSB feel those behind it are the lowest of the low and have done damage. But everything seems all too coincidental.

One way or the other something smells like crawfish cooking in Acadiana. Right, Alma?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Interview and Discussion With Shaun Johnson

My first real encounter with Shaun Johnson, aka The Chalk Face, came about 2 1/2 years ago in one of those classic Twitter mash-ups.

I started getting into it with the commandant, Kyle Olson, of the über Right Wing, paranoid, and meshuga, education "advocacy" news aggregator, Education Action Group News. EAG News staff like to call themselves reporters or journalists, but really a bunch of hacks that troll the Internet for bad stories about teachers or liberal leanings of schools and in their best FOX News method make the story worse than it is.

But it was a few fun days batting around Kyle as would a cat do to a mouse before it goes in for the kill. I think at one point I had a producer at FOX News agree to have Shaun and myself on against Kyle, but Kyle demurred and wouldn't agree to do the show. Eventually he blocked us both. Oh well.

Shaun and I have stayed in touch off and on through the years. I have always had a great deal of respect for him and feel bad I got him involved in a little of my Twitter tiffs this summer.

I have a lot of respect for Shaun. He is very smart, very aware, and most of all, quite low key, but brutal when he sees a wrong.

So today I was on his Blogtalk radio show and we spoke for 45 minutes. We touched on many things, tenure, my lawsuit, and everything that is tied into both.

The full 51 minutes is here. Enjoy it.