Walcott Defends Rubber Room Fines

Incoming chancellor touts reform of teacher discipline

By Katherine Creag
|  Sunday, Apr 10, 2011  |  Updated 5:27 PM EDT
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Walcott Defends Rubber Room Fines

AP

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott talks to the media after walking his grandson, Justin, 7, to PS 36-St. Albans School a day after he was nominated by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to replace Cathie Black as schools chancellor.

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The city's incoming schools chancellor on Sunday defended the limited practice whereby certain teachers accused of wrongdoing buy their way back into the classroom.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott said that allowing some teachers to bypass termination hearings, admit problems and pay a fine to resume their careers is part of the reform that ended the rubber rooms.

"Some people pay fines, some we remove and dismiss altogether," he said. "So there are a variety of charges against people.  Part of this is our pledge to end rubber rooms."

The New York Post on Sunday reported that some teachers dumped into those rubber rooms for alleged incompetence or misconduct pay an average $7,500 fine to resume teaching.

Walcott spoke while visiting the Church of the Open Door in Brooklyn where parents said they hope he tackles nagging problems like overcrowding.

Yolanda Johnson said that her daughter, Schuyler, has 25 kids in her third-grade class.

"You need teachers' assistants in class," she said.

Walcott stressed that success in the schools comes from working with parents.

"We have to deal with making sure parents are true partners in what's happening in the lives of their children and we are involved with them," he said.

The teachers union had a message for Walcott on Sunday during a City Hall rally:  "Save our schools." A group of students demanded a meeting with him to lobby against closing troubled schools.
  
Also a parent group announced a lawsuit Sunday against the city for its plan to put a charter school in the Brandeis Educational Complex on the Upper West Side.
    
Then later in Queens, state Sen. Tony Avella led a rally of students protesting the closing of Jamaica High School.
 
Walcott succeeds Cathie Black, who was forced out Thursday after a rocky three months.

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