Mayor: Arbitrators Soft on Punishing Teachers Accused of Bad Behavior

Fourteen teachers accused of inappropriate behavior by the city Department of Education are still working because an arbitrator overruled the city's attempts to fire them.

The allegations include inappropriate touching, or making sexually suggestive comments to students. Two teachers were later removed after new allegations surfaced.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Friday that the arbitrators gave out lesser penalties such as fines or suspensions because they don't want to anger the union

“The theory is that they don't want to be too tough on union members because the union will never allow them to be selected,” he said.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the arbitration process, known as 3020-a, is part of state law. "Under its provisions an independent hearing officer approved by the Department of Education reviews accusations, weighs the reliability of witnesses, and reviews all other evidence before making a decision in a case. Arbitrators' rulings can be appealed to the New York State Supreme Court. If the Department of Education believes that the hearing officer has made an egregious error in a specific case, it can appeal that decision," he said.

Arbitrators are jointly selected by the city and the union. The two sides are at odds over numerous issues now, including the details for a new teacher evaluation system.

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