UFT wins corporal punishment allegations grievance
Sep 17, 2009 2:44 PM
The UFT scored a major arbitration victory over the Department of
Education after unilateral changes were made to a Chancellor’s
Regulation that deals with corporal punishment allegations — in
violation of the union contract.
A major UFT objection had to do with the rights of members to receive
copies of witness statements if they choose not to sign the DOE waiver
on nonretaliation. The DOE’s original document said that if an employee
chooses not to sign the DOE acknowledgement that he or she will not
retaliate and will not disclose the content of statements made during
an investigation, he or she “may be provided” with statements from
which “all identifying information has been redacted.”
After the change, the document reads that he or she “shall be provided”
with statements from which “all identifying information has been
The UFT was never consulted about the the changes, according to
UFT Grievance Department Director Howard Solomon. And, in a consent
award issued by an arbitrator and signed by both sides in June, the DOE
agreed to issue a revised regulation.
The consent award also made changes involving situations where an
investigation, either by the principal or the DOE’s Office of Special
Investigations, has determined that the accused staff member has not
committed an act of corporal punishment or that the allegation of
corporal punishment cannot be substantiated.
While the prior version mandated that the staff member must be notified
by the principal, the arbitration award changed that to “notified by
the principal in writing,” which Solomon said was a huge gain for
members. “This way, a member has proof that the allegations were not
substantiated,” he said.
The award also clarified the issue of privacy. The original wording
that the DOE used was “confidentiality must be balanced with the
obligation to cooperate with investigations by authorized parties.” The
award now gives examples of who those parties are: the OSI
investigator, the principal or the principal’s designee.
Ellen Gallin Procida of the UFT Grievance Department and UFT Secretary
Michael Mendel were also able to get language changed that read “any
perceived attempt to tamper with or impede a corporal punishment
investigation or to retaliate against those who experience, report or
witness corporal punishment is strictly prohibited and may result in
The word “perceived” was deleted, mainly because it is vague and open
to different definitions in every school and would have left members
unprotected, Solomon said.