Society

'It's A Black Eye On The System': NYC Teacher Keeps Job Despite Poor Job Performance

| by Jared Keever
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Six years of poor job performance ratings were not enough to end one New York City teacher’s employment with the public school system. 

The New York Post reports that officials with the city Department of Education told a termination hearing officer recently that 44-year-old Ann Legra has a record of “six years of failing her students” with consecutive ratings of “unsatisfactory.”

Hearing officer Eugene Ginsberg admitted that Legra had demonstrated an “inability to supervise students,” had poor lesson planning, and had an attendance record littered with absences. But all of that was not enough to cost the teacher her job. 

Instead Ginsberg imposed a 45-day suspension, after which Legra will be relegated to a pool of 1,400 teachers who serve as substitutes. She will keep her $84,500 salary. 

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It’s the second time the Department of Education has gone after Legra. In 2012, she was fined $2,500 for excessive absences. 

Legra has been with the school system for 23 years. She started as a teacher’s aide and became a teacher in 2001. 

Some experts say it is time for her to go. 

“Six U-ratings is an outrage. It’s a black eye on the system,” said Michael Mazzariello, a former chief prosecutor for the Department of Education. 

Assistant Principal Kevin Goodman said in one document that he visited Legra’s classroom once to find it in “chaos.”

“Students up out of their seats, at least one was running, another was demonstrating karate moves on the closet door and the majority of the students were not involved in anything instructional — an issue that has repeatedly plagued your tenure as a classroom teacher,” he wrote at the time. 

The Post reports the hearing officers seldom move to fire a teacher, instead they impose fines or recommend more training. 

Some argue that’s the fault of strict laws that make it difficult to fire teachers with tenure. Others say the teacher rating systems themselves are flawed and must be overhauled. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is among them. He was recently quoted by The Post-Standard of Syracuse as calling the systems “baloney.”

The governor said he would like to see tenure laws changed in the state, too. He says teachers should have five consecutive reviews with ratings of “effective” or “highly effective” before they are granted tenure. Currently, tenure is granted after three years. 

Cuomo also wants to streamline the termination process by removing requirements that administrators must first attempt to rehabilitate ineffective teachers. 

Legra said those changes are likely more about money than creating better schools. She said she thinks the administrators went after her because of her high salary.

“They really want to get rid of workers who are there for a long time,” she said. 

She has filed a federal lawsuit against the city Department of Education charging discrimination based on her race, gender, national origin and a medical disability.

Sources: New York PostThe Post-Standard / Photo Credit: Frank/Flickr, WikiCommons