New York Unassigned Teachers May Head Back to Class

In New York City, a group of teachers that principals did not want to hire may be back in the classroom anyway.

Carmen Farina, city schools chancellor, discussed with her staff the possibility of placing around 1,200 educators in full time teaching jobs despite the fact that they have disciplinary histories or unsatisfactory ratings. Moving the teachers back into the classroom would free up around $100 million a year. The Daily News reports that this would be a reversal of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy that stated teachers should rotate out as subs instead of putting them in schools where principals did not want them.

The unassigned teachers lost their full-time jobs for a variety of reasons — 25% committed wrongdoing, 25% received an “unsatisfactory” rating, 40% worked in schools that closed or downsized and 10% teach subjects that are no longer offered in schools. They are different from the so-called rubber room staff who are banned from the classroom.

One of the unassigned teachers is Edgar Ortiz, who makes near $90,000. He was arrested for patronizing a prostitute and faced a fine of $7,500. Another is Damian Esteban who was arrested on a heroin charge. Esteban, who is a recovering drug addict, was not dismissed due to a hearing officer saying that firing him would be “excessive”.

 “They’re in (the unassigned pool) for a reason,” said Marvin Shelton, a public school parent and president of Community Education Council 10 in the Bronx. “Sending them back into the classroom is not the answer.”

Sources say that members of current Mayor de Blasio’s transition team are discussing the possibility of unassigned teachers being placed back into classrooms as well. The current policy was instituted by Former Mayor Bloomberg as a deal with the teacher’s union president Michael Mulgrew and union support will be needed to change it.

A representative with the education department denied a possible plan being in the works, and a teacher’s union spokesman declined comment.

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