Jul 16, 2014


The Story

Time I was kept out of the classroom for no reason:

747 days

From STEM Lab (above)
to this reassignment center (below)
The short version:
My name is Francesco Alexander Portelos. I am a parent and educator of Staten Island’s North Shore. I was teaching technology at Berta Dreyfus IS 49 for 5 years after I left a successful 7 year career in the Environmental Engineering/Inspection field. My record, as a teacher and school community member, was stellarAfter I became a new father in the community, my focus transcended past my praised classroom and I looked at the issues at the school as a whole. The school is currentlyranked 939th out of 1,124 middle schools in NY State. I had a lot of work to do. It was a school that my son would be going to in just 10 short years. As I brought attention to matters, such as discipline, budget and school goals, a hostile work environment was suddenly created around me. Principal Linda  Hill began calling me a “hindrance to the community” and questioning my classroom instruction that was previously praised. It did not stop me as I knew something was going on and I pushed forward starting investigations on potential financial misconduct and educational neglect. I submitted the allegations on January 26, 2012. Starting on January 30, 2012 30+ allegations were made against me, and 3 disciplinary letters were placed in my file in just 10 days, I received my first unsatisfactory classroom observation and I was ultimately removed from school on April 26, 2012. I was sent to a basement storage room with two small gated windows(Rubber Room). It was 20 miles, 6 districts and two boroughs away from my school and home. I was there for over a tear before I was moved again. Waiting…waiting for what? The investigations on the administrators back at Berta Dreyfus 49? The investigations on me? My Federal lawsuit? In the meantime, the  students lose out the most.

Francesco Portelos


Tenure is for Girls! [and others who speak up]

Seriously… Is it not? Read Below.
Over a year ago I FOILed the number of probationary (nontenured) teachers discontinued in the NYC DOE in the last two years. I know, I could have just asked the UFT, but they wouldn’t give us the info. In fact, when I asked for the number of reassigned teachers, UFT Staff Director Leroy Barr wrote back ”
Mr. Portelos,
As the number is constantly changing and the DOE controls who is reassigned, I recommend you submit a FOIL request to the DOE for this information.”
In other words since babies are constantly being born and people are dying every day, you can never get a real population count. Right?
In any case I finally received the answer.
discontinued teachers
Yes. In just 2 years, in NYC DOE alone, 456 teachers have not made it past three years and been discontinued. Some in just their first year. Discontinued does sound better than terminated, but in fact all those, and over a 100 more since then, have been terminated and barred from teaching in the DOE again. Carmen’s DOE continues with this method.
There! Are you happy now Sam Pirozzolo, Mona Davids, Campbell Brown, David Welch and the rest? According to the demographics of those teachers that contact us at MORE, DTOE and my attorney Bryan Glass, Esq. they are mostly young females.
Young females who wanted to teach and help children since they were little girls. Teachers like Lydia Howrilka who dared ask her former Principal Arisleyda Urena for state mandated mentoring to improve her teaching and was then terminated and later falsely arrested and detained for 14 hours.
Young females like this guidance counselor who was ordered to do everything but counsel students. When she dared tell Principal Adonna McFarland that students aren’t getting services she too was terminated. http://dtoe.org/2014/04/25/carmens-doe-takes-another-young-career/
Young females like this one who wrote:
My observations were conducted on the following dates: May 13May 15May 16May 19 and May 20, plus one conducted on March 30. I only received 3 feedbacks for all 13 observations. At the Summative Conference on June 16 I was handed a rating of Ineffective even though my students showed steady growth according to the Benchmark Assessment, Periodic Assessment and MOSL, plus I have a Valedictorian, new ESL student and one Salutatorian also an ESL student.” More on this story later.
Sign Our Petition
OK, we get males contacting us too, but you get our drift. Where is the UFT? Surely you don’t see any of these stories in the NY Teacher. Instead you read Happy Happy stories of the “New Tone” at the DOE and pictures like this:

“Carmen, as long as I keep getting my $250,000 I don’t care what you do to my members.”

Jul 14, 2014

Communism Déjà Vu

Letter Addressed to UFT President Mr. Michael Mulgrew
I am an ESL Teacher in I.S. 291 Bushwick, NY.

I started teaching ESL in I.S. 291 in 2007 and in 2010 I was granted tenure by the now deceased principal Sean J. Walsh. 

The tenure was in CB which I haven't taught a single day in this school. Then in 2011  I was excessed on the CB license. 

In September 2013 I was rehired on the ESL license and put on probation as of March 2014. 

Since then I have been observed a total of 13 times, given no feedback, no recommendations.

On June 6, 2014 my IAP handed me five, yes 5 observations to sign and date, then on June 9, 2014 another AP gave me one more observation to sign.

These observations were conducted on the following dates: May 13, May 15, May 16, May 22 and May 29 plus one conducted on March 30, I only received 3 emails for feedback. 

At the Summative Conference on June 16, 2014 I was handed a rating of Ineffective even though my students showed steady growth according to the Benchmark Assessment, Periodic Assessments, NYCESLAT and MOSL. Also I am the proud teacher of a Valedictorian, a first year ESL student, and a Salutatorian. “Ineffective,” eh?

On June 19, I filed a grievance with my union Representative. Copies of all documents were submitted and I was advised to wait for an answer from the Principal. She was to speak to the Superintendent and ask advice about my rating since it was all “in the system.” 

On June 23 I received this letter from the superintendent it states quote: 
"This is to inform you that on July 28, 2014, I will review and consider whether your services as a probationer be discontinued as of the close of business July 28, 2014. My consideration of your discontinuance is based on the reasons included in attached documentation and such documents constitute a written statement of the reasons for my consideration of your discontinuance. You may submit a written response to the reasons no later than seven (7) days prior to the date of my consideration and final determinance of your Discontinuance." end of quote.

I underlined in bold attached documentation, because there was no attached documentation included with this letter! 

Why is the superintendent so firm on my discontinuance? Shouldn't she be looking into the facts? All observations conducted in the month of May, no timely feedback, redundant recommendations and evaluation reports handed to me all in one day.

At this point this is costing me my health, part of me wants to pack and leave it all behind yet I've worked too hard to get here and quitting is not in my nature. 

I was raised in a communist country where citizens had no rights, no voices where one's livelihood could forever be ruined in a trivial game of "get you, got you" as abuse of power ran rampant, sadly this is all here in our beloved, democratic America.

Sick and disappointed,
Bushwick ESL Teacher

May 14, 2014

Chelsea Hotel No 2

Lana Del Rey her beautiful voice + a song dedicated to Janis Joplin by Leonard Cohen. Music and lyrics at their best. 

May 3, 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive

The good side of obsession..

May 1, 2014

Horse's Head on the Danube

A summer like no other, as a bunch of nomads sailed the Danube Delta to Sulina on the Black Sea. At Horse's Head near Donji Milanovac my giggly sister, the pirate on a jet ski, makes waves around our pontoon. 

Apr 27, 2014

Maybe I'm a Different Breed

Cry for help.. Are we listening?

Traim Acest Adevar

Judecata tăcerii
                                    Criticului literar Emil Lungeanu
Filozofează poeţii în tăcere
De ani buni cuvintele şi-au pierdut sensul
Marea speranţă se consumă-n durere
Pentru cei mullţi a dispărut universul

Cameleonic se adaptează tăcuţi
Intelectualii, şi masele-s mute
Destul de bizar, ba chiar si noii născuţi
Nu mai ţipă căci şi pedepsele-s crunte

Tăcerea bolnavă izbucneşte-n lozinci
Nefiresc se scriu multe imnuri de slavă
Se-nmulţesc cocarde dintr-un roşu arnici
Când demnitatea a ajuns o epavă

Filozofia tăcerii mai ascunde,
Deseori, slăbiciunea fiiniţe umane
Când şi în somn teama în suflet pătrunde
La comanda celor cu multe galoane!

Gramatica tăcerii-i poruncă-n Senat
Căci marea trăncăneala poartă coroană
Constituţia-i ca un copil avortat
Credinţa e doar o vândută icoană

Se apropie judecata tăcerii
Pentru muţii deveniţi acum guralivi
Cum ei se pretind şi eroii durerii
La ocnă vor ajunge ca nişte parşivi

                                                Virgil Ciucă
                                                Biblioteca Metropolitană Bucureşti
                                                Aprilie 2014

Apr 22, 2014

'Forte' - America’s Got Talent