Watching the news reports about the Jerry Sandusky trial has made me nauseous. It has created a new definition for the term, “Tiger Mom.” Abuse our children, and we will be fierce. So, I can understand how New York City Schools’ Chancellor Dennis Walcott is so angry over allegations that United Federation of Teachers employees have been sexually abusing children. What I can’t understand is how such an intelligent man can ignore the rule of law (Walcott took over the District Superintendency of NYC School District 5 in Harlem when I was teaching there.) Chancellor Walcott has been at war with the UFT since assuming his position. Walcott is seeking new ways to fire teachers and administrators by denying them due process and even overriding the decisions of arbitrators.
Certainly, I am not in favor of having teachers who were found guilty of these horrendous acts remain in the classroom. In his quest to become the Sheriff or Department of Education, Walcott seems to be playing fast and loose with the rules which govern our country. Chancellor Walcott appears to believe that if a teacher, administrator or teacher’s aide is acquitted by a jury of his or her peers or not indicted by a grand jury, the Department of Education still has the right to bring that person before an arbitrator
Remember, Chancellor Walcott, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” That means that once a person has been found innocent of a criminal act, they cannot be retried for the same crime, as is done sometimes over and over in some countries until the desired verdict is achieved. Walcott, however, wants to take this position one step further. In his world, he believes that if the arbitrator has ruled in favor of the teacher, and the Chancellor disagrees with the ruling, he can override the arbitrator and fire the teacher.
Apparently, Mr. Walcott believes that it is perfectly acceptable to try teachers twice for the same crime and then do what he wants if he disagrees with the findings in the second case. You would think that the leader of one of the largest educations systems in the country would not have missed reading an important part of the Bill of Rights. Then again, city residents know that his boss, Mayor Bloomberg, is well known for creating Interpretations of the law that should never pass the muster of the court system.
In a time when there seems to be a daily report of perverse sexual activities by teachers in the media, and when Jerry Sandusky’s face is ever present on TV, I can understand the public’s desire to see sexual predators locked up, and the key thrown away. I wish that the law allowed for that, and it does when there is a trial and conviction. But when that does not happen, it is an
abuse of our legal system to seek the additional remedies the Chancellor wants. It goes against everything for which this country stands. Winston Churchill was right when he said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Perhaps another quote from Churchill, “Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry,” should be brought to their attention before they try to continue their efforts to destroy the teachers’ union. I hear the tigers roaring.
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DOODLEY NOODLEY YOURS,