- Last Updated: 12:03 AM, May 31, 2012
- Posted: May 31, 2012
On Tuesday, The Post published photographs of Julie Warning, a 26-year-old global-studies instructor, canoodling with an 18-year-old student in Greenwich Village after class.
Warning denies any untoward activity — cue the “your lying eyes” jokes — but she’s been yanked from her classroom and the Department of Education is on the case.
Alas, firing a wayward teacher is never simple — regardless of the evidence.
Which is why Mayor Bloomberg came out blazing Tuesday morning, seeking passage of a state law that would grant school districts statewide the final say over the firing of teachers who’ve engaged in sexual misconduct.
As it stands, even when lengthy investigations by the DOE uncover clear proof of sexual violations, the city still needs the approval of labor arbitrators to sack teachers.
And the arbitrators must be approved by the city and the teachers unions, so they have a perverse incentive to “please both sides,” as Bloomberg put it.
If they allow the firing of too many guilty teachers, their arbitration jobs — with per diems reaching $1,800 — dry up fast.
In the 2009-2010 school year, DOE brought dismissal charges against 176 teachers for misconduct, and 23 were fired. In ’10-’11, 223 were charged — with only 38 fired.
These aren’t cursory investigations. The city spends months establishing guilt — and, in the event, the department has only a 15 percent success rate in getting bad teachers off the city payroll.
“There is simply no reason that teachers accused of sexual misconduct should have greater job security than other city employees,” the mayor said Tuesday.
Bloomberg’s push, backed by Sen. Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie), would let city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott overrule arbitrators in sex cases.
Much to his credit, Bloomberg has chipped away at the worst parts of teacher-job protection — reforming a system that used to award 97 percent of teachers life tenure. It’s time for the arbitration process to get a revamp, too.
Manhattan Theatre Lab HS, where Warning was, um, teaching, is an academic disaster zone — ranked in the bottom 4 percent of all city high schools.
The school is soon to be closed.
As for Warning, the city got lucky: She was caught on tape and she lacks tenure, so she should be relatively easy to ax.
But teachers with tenure are a different matter. Even when individuals are accused of serial sexual offense, the city is too often without resort when arbitration fails.
The process is far too difficult and onerous. It costs the city millions, but “the students pay the price,” as the mayor said.
Reform is long overdue; Albany should pass Bloomberg’s bill without delay.Follow @NYPostOpinion