Transfer to another school without penalty


DISSENT (checked - see attached)

Doris Shaffer
Employee Panel Member

Date: 5/14/98

Sworn to before me on May 14, 1998



I concur with the findings of the Panel majority but dissent from the recommendation that Dr. David Roemer be dismissed from service as a result of charges against him pursuant to Section 3020-a of the Education Law.

I do not agree that the charges as they were developed during the hearing and summarized in the Panel report warrant the harsh penalty of discharge for the following reasons.

The most basic charge is the failure of the Respondent to prepare written lesson plans. From that failure flows much of the criticism of his classroom performance as reported in the observation reports by Mr. Bruckner, Mr. Cohen, Ms. Radigan and Ms. Coppin (submitted as Board evidence). All these reports are almost identical in language and in their criticism of Dr. Roemer's pedagogical approach. Their criticism basically stems from the fact that he did not have or use a written lesson plan in the form required by school officials. As a result, he consistently received an unsatisfactory rating. Indeed , Mr. Bruckner testified October 17, 1997 that ..."my bottom line was that Dr. Roemer had to come into his class with a written lesson plan which explained and described what he was going to do." (p.44) and again "If he had lesson plans, he would have more effective lesson.(sic) "(emphasis added, p.44,45). There is no evidence in the testimony to indicate that the Respondent was not knowledgeable in his field, physics. Indeed, he kept himself current in his field by attending lectures, seminars and conferences.

The escalation of the conflict as a result of the Respondent's use of what he called "student lesson plans" and the requirement of written lesson plans as defined by the school resulted in Respondent's request to engage in the conciliation process as provided by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Dr. Roemer testified that he would have abided by any agreement that would have resulted. Unfortunately, as the majority report notes, the Superintendent of Brooklyn High Schools, Joyce Coppin, "did not properly function as a conciliator between Respondent and school administrators"(P 44). Had Ms. Coppin followed the conciliation procedure to its conclusion, either the parties would have resolved their differences concerning lesson plans and teacher strategies, or immediately moved to the next stage. The onus of her failure should not fall upon the Respondent and result in his dismissal. As to the charge of insubordination, it appears that this applied to Respondent's second year at Murrow and resulted in his removal from the classroom in March 1996 "pending charges of insubordination"· Mr. Bruckner testified that insubordination "was not an issue the first year". (p.44). Respondent's failure to attend pre and post observation conferences, while not condoned, appears to be in part the result of the directive of Dr. Coppin to accept the principal's position and the inconclusive nature of the conciliation process.

Given the above, Dr. Roemer, a tenured teacher of Physics, appointed in 1984, should not be dismissed from service, but given a lesser penalty. I recommend that he return to E.R. Murrow under a period of probation with the clear understanding that he comply with school policy; provide the required written lesson plans and meet with his supervisors, at their direction, in order to improve his teaching strategies. As an alternative, Dr. Roemer be allowed to transfer to another High School.

Doris Shaffer
Employee Panel Member