Op-Ed: UFT Solidarity Loses The Case To Get COVID-19 Accommodation For Remote Teaching

Considering the amount of press coverage on the PETITION filed by Attorney Bryan Glass for UFT Solidarity members to get accommodations, any reader would think that the case was precedent-setting. In fact, I believe that UFT Solidarity chief Lydia Howrilka even said that it was.  She was quoted in EdSurge:

“Teachers who do not qualify from specific guidelines of medical accommodations—if they do not fall under any of those categories, the only option they have is to take unpaid leave,” Howrilka says. “We are being given a Hobson’s choice of choosing between either our paychecks and livelihood or our own health and safety.”

I support the premise that teachers with disabling conditions, or who have relatives and/or family members whose health is impaired for any number of reasons, or who have particular work responsibilities which require working with children who cannot wear masks or do not keep them on, should obtain remote work accommodations if they apply – with the proper doctors’ notes and support. Many, it is true, are denied for no rational reason. No one trusts what the NYC DOE says about “safety,” either.

Many people – including myself – believe that it would be a terrible idea to trust the New York City Department of Education when promoting “safety” in NYC schools. The definition of safety they rely on is hearsay, often fake, news. Public contractors say that something has been cleaned, and people in the very room that has been “cleaned” can see that it is not clean. I have seen mold, bugs, mice, falling ceilings, and other horrible, unsafe conditions throughout New York City in my many roles as a parent advocate, UFT representative, workplace investigator, and in pictures received from sources who are everywhere. Thank you, all!

Also, as a parent and teacher advocate, I have the facts behind what is really going on in our City schools, stuff that no one wants to know. The NYC DOE keeps lying about, such as two teachers (one general education, the other special education) certified to teach in the content area in every ICT (Integrated Co-teaching) classroom; another is that charges against an educator are always rational. Anyone who really wants information should go to the school, work or walk inside, and see for him/herself, or ask someone inside to take pictures and secretly tape conversations (New York State is a one-party State).

That being said, I do not believe that Bryan Glass was the right choice for an Attorney. He did not do an adequate job in the TRO case for remote teaching accommodations. Indeed, after winning the temporary injunction, which the press picked up, he signed up 20 new Petitioners, who may or may not have been aware that the first Judge had vacated the TRO. It seems that the Judge was not satisfied with Bryan Glass’ argument to Amend his original Petition, or withdraw it:

ORDER___TRANSFER_MO_28

Here is the relevant part:

“Accordingly, the imminent
harm and balance of the equities presented to the Court in the initial application are no longer the same. This is particularly true because Petitioners have now raised the possibility of a secondary,
“comfort” accommodation policy, not mentioned in the Petition, which Petitioner’s counsel was unable-despite numerous Court queries, hundreds of pages of submissions, and two arguments-to discuss as it applied to Petitioners; that is, whether Petitioners had applied, on what basis, and what the result was. 1 It is therefore

ORDERED that the TRO is vacated.”

Here is the response from the New York Law Department, the Amended Petition, and the final Order of Judge Edmead:

LETTER___CORRESPOND

PETITION__AMENDED

ORDER___INTERIM

Final Decision-case dismissed

TRANSCRIPT___SO_ORD_42

My lack of confidence in Bryan Glass is many years in the making. In 2015, Francesco Portelos and Lydia Howrilka created a video wherein Jim Callaghan, a very disliked former reporter at NY Teacher, speaks about his hatred for the UFT and his former boss, Randi Weingarten. Jim spoke about how Randi believed I was a homophobe but hired me anyway to work on the rubber rooms as part of the UFT SWAT TEAM with him and Ron Isaac. This lie was promoted to make me look bad after discovering that Francesco’s new website “ANOI” and his threats to principals posted online in 2015 was getting his UFT Solidarity members noticed at the NYC DOE, charged and fired.

You can see my opinion about the wreckage UFT Solidarity and Francesco have done here:

 Editorial: Is Francesco Portelos a Danger to Tenure Law? by Betsy Combier

I posted his 3020-a decision by Felice Busto in that post, but here is the Busto decision in full, sent to me by Francesco Portelos:

Portelos, Franceso advs. New York City Board of Education

Almost as soon as Francesco received the decision he started UFT Solidarity, to get other people to do what he wanted to do, but couldn’t. Let them get in trouble, he brilliantly decided. I am personally surprised that he has convinced nice, intelligent people to do his dirty work. I don’t get it, I really don’t. Lydia Howrilka is just one example. See the Department’s lawsuit against Ms. Howrilka, using Francesco’s ANOI website as evidence of defamation of the Principal who terminated Howrilka in June 2013. counter-lawsuit

Back to Jim Callaghan – Jim made my life at the UFT very hard, by everyday emails taunting me, belittling me, and creating a bad place for himself. The UFT did not like him, so Jeff Zahler, former staff Director before Leroy Barr, told me to ignore him. So, I did or tried to. Since that video, which I told Francesco was a lie, Francesco has lied about me, just like he posts defamatory stuff about principals.  Bryan Glass supports Francesco Portelos, defended him in his losing  Federal Court case against IS 49 and the Department of Education, and called me a snake oil salesman, hoping that I would be squashed into silence. Believe me when I say “not a chance”, Bryan!

In another case, a tenured teacher received an “unsatisfactory” from her principal and sent the principal’s name to Francesco Portelos to post on the dtoe/ANOI website list, anonymously. A few weeks later the principal came over to her in the school hallway and told her “I know it was you who posted my name on that horrible website ANOI list, and I am going to charge you with 3020-a charges. Watch out.” Sure enough, the teacher was charged and had to go through a 3020-a hearing. She was terminated. I heard that the Department uses the UFT Solidarity members as their go-to names for 3020-a and the problem code.

Francesco Portelos hates anyone who calls his bluff, so he started his hate-filled campaign against me in 2015, and got his members at UFT Solidarity to go after me and then my husband, who works at Hunter College. It’s been rough.

Yet members of UFT Solidarity continue to follow them.

In 2017, I read that Bryan Glass filed a class-action lawsuit for age discrimination on behalf of ATRs (Absent Teacher Reserve). Francesco Portelos posted the Complaint “How 30 ATRs Are Fighting for Over 100,000 on his website and added that he was joining the lawsuit too.

I am not an attorney, as everyone knows. But I don’t believe that a class action can be filed at the Division of Human Rights. Also, Francesco was only 39 years old in 2017, I believe. He had no grounds to be in an age discrimination lawsuit.

So, I filed a Combier FOIL 30-Day letter for the paperwork. The response to me was startling: Bryan Glass never filed this Complaint. I Appealed, thinking that this must be a mistake. Combier FOIL Response.

Combier FOIL (2) Response determinations and a call from the Human Rights FOIL officer, who told me there was no Complaint filed for ATRs, and she did not care what was written on any websites or blogs. In December 2019 I received “all” the closed cases from 9/16 -6/19 which had been filed by Attorney Bryan Glass:  Combier FOIL (2) Response report (1). There were none that showed 29 ATRs.

DHR sent another case as well:

I then sent Bryan an email on  asking for any information, and he never responded:

“Dear Bryan,

I am sending this second email to add to my request sent yesterday (see below):

I want to inform you that I filed a FOIL request for your Complaint as well as the outcome, and the Division of Human Rights told me that the Complaint was never received. Is this true? If not, please send me the information no later than January 16, 2020. If it is true, did you return any money to the complainants who paid you to file their lawsuit?

Thank you for your attention and cooperation,

Betsy Combier, betsy.combier@gmail.com”

January 11, 2020:

“Dear Bryan,

I am writing an article on your DHR Complaint as publicized in the post below:

How 30 ATRs Are Fighting for Over 100,000 NYCDOE Employees

Please give me your stamped filed Complaint and the decision made by the NYS Division of Human Rights by Thursday, January 16, 2020. I will post my article on Friday, January 17, 2020.

Thank you, I very much appreciate your information and cooperation.”

He did not respond, so I decided to contact File Human Rights Complaints-Chief. I asked Ms. Lewis if she had seen the filed lawsuit. She told me no. Then I asked her if she knew if it had been filed, and she told me she believed that it had, as Francesco Portelos had posted on his website the Complaint. I asked her to call Bryan Glass and ask him whether a class action had been actually filed, and she told me that she would do that, and get back to me.

Several days later Ms. Lewis told me that ‘someone in Mr. Glass’ office’ told her that no class action was filed, but 29 individual complaints had been filed. I thanked her.

I knew that the information was false, according to the Division of Human Rights.

Betsy Combier

 

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