UFT Solidarity and The Criminal Mind of Teacher Lucio Celli

Editorial Opinion:

It is sad to say there are teachers who have criminal minds. Teacher Lucio Celli is one of these people. He was on the UFT Solidarity Council with Francesco Portelos when the caucus was formed in 2012 by Portelos and Lydia Howrilka.  On November 12 2018 he threatened to kill several Judges in the Federal Court System. His outrage is a product of the UFT Solidarity-Francesco Portelos-Lydia Howrilka promotion of acts of retaliation, defamation and harassment of NYC Department of Education employees as well as private individuals they don’t like. Lydia Howrilka herself was arrested on March 4, 2014, and charged with violating N.Y. Penal Law § 240.30 (01) (Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree) after her online attacks on her Principal.

No one should follow UFT Solidarity’s promotion of attacks on people they don’t like. The consequences are dire. The DOE will charge those who pursue talking or writing about the principals. For example, one of my 3020-a clients contacted UFT Solidarity to have her principal cited for being “bad” and the principal’s picture was placed onto the UFT Solidarity website. The principal found her picture, then told the teacher that she would regret putting it up online. A couple of weeks later this teacher was charged with 3020-a incompetence, and terminated. Francesco Portelos has resigned from the NYC Department of Education and now works as the STEM coordinator for the Sebastian Middle School in St. Augustine, Florida. He is listed on the website for the Sebastian Middle School as “Mr. Portelas”, I do not know why his last name is misspelled. Upon information and belief, the complaints in NYC against him by teachers and parents – who forced him to take his two sons out of their school – rose to such an extent that he dropped his license in New York. Angela Portelos, his wife and also a teacher, resigned from the NYC DOE as well.

Lucio Celli was, and upon information and belief is currently,  incarcerated and getting treatment at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Good” educators are individuals who are caring and capable and who have high standards for their own conduct. They are, by definition, role models for young minds. I am in awe of educators who dedicate their lives to expanding the minds of young and old.

NYC Department of Education social studies teacher Lucio Celli has been threatening politicians, media, UFT representatives, NYSUT attorney Cathy Battle, PERB Hearing Officers, NYC Department of Education General Counsel Howard Friedman and anyone else who he thinks gets in his way, for more than 4 years.

Celli’s threats to kill several Federal Court Judges (USA-complaint) is only the latest shocking email sent by him to punish and create fear in people who he thinks are opposing him in some way.

Lucio is out on bail right now, awaiting trial in May, and cannot use the internet. He was allowed, by the judge, to file a complaint, so here is his latest new letter Jan 4 2021

Read the profanity-emails sent by Lucio Celli before November 2018.

See here:



“From: Lucio Celli <enzo0mad@aol.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 9:59 PM
Subject: Re: to Mr. Bharara and I truly hope that I broke federal law
To: “ksolimando@schools.nyc.gov” <KSolimando@schools.nyc.gov>, “robert.freeman@dos.ny.gov” <Robert.Freeman@dos.ny.gov>, Richard Condon <rcondon@nycsci.org>, “rweingarten@aft.org” <rweingarten@aft.org>, Mandel Susan <SMandel@schools.nyc.gov>, “dstrom@aft.org” <dstrom@aft.org>, Guerra Charity <CGuerra7@schools.nyc.gov>, Drantch Todd <TDrantch@schools.nyc.gov>, Chancellor Carmen Fariña <NYCChancellor@schools.nyc.gov>, “lcelli@schools.nyc.gov” <LCelli@schools.nyc.gov>, “jbaranello3@schools.nyc.gov” <JBaranello3@schools.nyc.gov>, “aross@uft.org” <ARoss@uft.org>, “zcarter@law.nyc.gov” <zcarter@law.nyc.gov>, “preet.bharara@usdoj.gov” <preet.bharara@usdoj.gov>, phoebeb@childrensaidsociety.orgmpeters@doi.nyc.govleslie@yu.edueschneiderman@ag.ny.goveric.lane@hofstra.eduecacavas@perb.ny.govcourtenayej@childrensaidsociety.orgcbattle@nysut.orgcanelson@wcl.american.edubill.araiza@brooklaw.eduanthonyr@childrensaidsociety.orgablassman@perb.ny.govJWirenius@perb.ny.govJORourke@perb.ny.govHFriedma@law.nyc.govBdeBlasio@cityhall.nyc.gov, “sedelman@nypost.com” <sedelman@nypost.com>

Dear Mr. Bharara:

Attached you will hear an administrative hearing that occurred on November 2, 2016. I truly hope that I broke federal law because I want to play my audio recordings. Normally, I play it safe that I stop or erase  audio recording, as I am secretly taping. I did not do that on November 2, 2016 ….I want to sit down and ram my audio recordings down people’s throat and the audio recording deals with:

  1. Cole telling me created a teacher’s evaluation system—but it is a mandatory subject of negotiation 
  2. At my Louderrmill hearing …  Bernard said, “Oh, we can’t speak about that” that’s all she said 
  3. Mandel falsified grievance decision 
  4. Blassman told me, “Oh you can’t put in for hat…” she was talking about  Mandel’s decision and the special education complaint that I gave her 
  5. Lavaman and Fogel said arbitration decision existed and  Battle said that lied 
  6. Lavin stop me from presenting evidence and stopped me from speaking (she also motioned which edited the official audio recording of my Loudermill hearing…but I made my own)
  7. Jackson-Chase confirmed that DOE sent me an edited audio recording and Chancellor Fairna was CC’ed 
  8. Chancellor’s Rep (Kshenksy) and hearing officer (Linchestien) said that administration did not get notice of Jackson-Chase’s email …..the administration in question was Jackson-Chases/Farina
  9. Kshenky lied about DOE policy because he asked about my behavior of audio recording on Oct 8, 2016

I have FOIL request and NONE, and I none, of the policies or rules cited are found in the FOIL request. 

I hope this works because the next stop is to curse Farina out in public to get my 3020 …I need a job but they will have to fire me because it will be the only way that I will stop. Battle/Drantch/Blassman made it personal on April 8, 2017 because I will not be ashamed or be put in a position of fear…not when I have audio recordings “

On November 28, 2017 he appeared at the Panel For Educational Policy meeting of the Department of Education and screamed at former Chancellor Carmen Farina mother****er.

Over the past four years what is new is the astonishing evidence that the New York City Department of Education discipline procedures for terminating teachers is arbitrary. By arbitrary I mean,

” something that is determined by judgment or whim and not for any specific reason or rule. An example of an arbitrary decision would be a decision to go to the beach, just because you feel like it.”

I have studied the procedures and outcomes of 3020-a arbitration hearings for educators since 2003, and I have seen educators fired for actions that are far less egregious than what Lucio Celli and his partner in crime Francesco Portelos, have done.

Above picture: Francesco Portelos and UFT Solidarity core group of educators – Victor Jordan, Lydia Howrilka, Lucio Celli, Francesco Portelos, Jonathan Hinesley, Al Leon and unknown.

Countless times I have seen charges filed against a teacher for exposing student records to outsiders, on the internet, or inappropriately, and they are fired. Lucio Celli’s mentor and friend Francesco Portelos posted a student’s name and her failing grades at De Witt Clinton High School on his website, and when the charge against him for FERPA violations was substantiated by investigators, and he told them “sorry”. No 3020-a charges were filed. Most educators charged with FERPA violations do not get the chance to say they are sorry.

Previous to this incident, two parents had told the NY Daily News in 2014 that they did not like Portelos after he told teachers not to help their young children. He was never given a second 3020-a. He had been charged in 2012 (see Portelos-felice-Busto-decision), found guilty of many of the charges, and fined $10,000. He was also warned by the arbitrator not to continue to do what he was guilty of, and he has continued. But no second trial.

Dr. Rupert Green worked at the vocational school known as “Coop Tech”. Dr. Green is a highly educated African-American, who has shown dedication to the students in his school where he taught how to repair computers. He sent several emails to staff explaining his dismay that vocational education was an understaffed area of the DOE and the school needed more resources. He supported this with facts. Suddenly, he was told to stop sending any emails to staff about the issues of staffing and resources. He then put all his comments into a dropbox, and sent out a note that anyone who did not want to read the comments did not have to open the dropbox attachment. He was charged with misconduct, the DOE blocked him from obtaining his emails without any comments on staffing or resources, and the Arbitrator fired him.

MC, a Guidance Counselor, was an ATR and sent to teach a class at a school. She had never taught a class before, so she questioned the assignment and told the principal that there was a mistake. The principal told the AP to walk her to her class, and she taught the class until assigned to another school. The principal then filed 3020-a charges against her, and the arbitrator terminated her for being insubordinate.

This shows, I believe, the random and arbitrary process of charging teachers in New York City and State, which I have written about on my blogs and websites. I would point out that there is evidence that the 3020-a process in New York City honors speed over rights and that there is fraud imbedded in the charging process.

Something must be done to set standards, stop guilty educators from committing crimes and continuing to be in a classroom, and protect the innocent.

Betsy Combier

Editor, Advocatz.com


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