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The UFT Problem: What To Do With Mike Mulgrew?

May 28, 2012

Mike Mulgrew: Come Clean With the Allegations of Tampering With An Investigation, Or Resign

 
I made this story happen by giving reporters the information that I had because I dont believe in deceit. As you will see in the article posted on my website early this morning, I was given the information about the coverup in March 2010 from Brooklyn rubber roomer John Haggerty. He told me to look into it. When a friend asked Norm Scott about it a couple of months ago, Norm said he knew nothing about it. Why he would not post it before now, if indeed he had the information, I dont know. But what I do know is, in 2005 the Principal of William Grady HS sued Mike Mulgrew, Ellie Engler and Newsday, and the case was settled. People I spoke to about this over the past year have told me that there was never any investigation of the allegations involving Mulgrew and Camacho-Mendez, but there were other violations of rules and law with the students that were also not investigated. This needs to happen.

When Randi Weingarten moved Mike and Emma to the UFT, what did she know, and how was she involved in keeping an investigation from happening? It seems to me that more and more teachers charged with 3020-a are getting a specification with words to the effect of “tampering with an investigation”, thus we need to know if this applies to Mike Mulgrew, Emelina Camacho-Mendez, Randi Weingarten and the UFT/Unity Caucus. We dont need to know that Ms. Camacho-Mendez is now divorced/separated from her husband and Mike is living with another woman, but still carrying on with Camacho-Mendez, no one should care about this. What we should care about are secret deals and disparate treatment, politicians giving Mike Mulgrew rights that UFT members are denied and then terminated for relying on.

Emelina Comacho-Mendez
Last week a new entry on the UFT website intrigued me, the Parent Fact Sheet on Special Education Reform. Evidently if a parent has a complaint about their child(ren)’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), they should call the UFT Special Education liaison, and these people with fix the problem. I called the number listed on the webpage, and got, of all people, Betsy, who sits at my old desk on the 16th floor. We spoke for a while, and when I asked how the UFT can fix a problem in a child’s IEP without the parent going to an impartial Hearing, Betsy told me that she would ask someone to call me back. That someone was Emelina Camacho-Mendez, who did not answer my questions. She told me that she was the liaison to the Department for all special needs children and their parents. Huh? The United Federation of Teachers and Parents? Leonie Haimson and Mona Davids channel Unity – what do you know about this?

UFT members realize now, I think, that there is something very wrong in New York City with UFT leaders as far as supporting and complying with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and other contractual rules. The grievance procedure stinks, and all that is left is payment of money to the people who prosecute the claims and who claim to represent members. Its a business. So is the 3020-a arbitration.

 My point is this: I do not care who Mike Mulgrew has sex with, but if he covered up this, and other stuff while at Grady High School, he needs to be held accountable to all the UFT members who have seen their lives destroyed because of false claims against them and/or “tampering with an investigation”.

If Mike Mulgrew made a secret deal to get away with whatever he did while at Grady in order to be President of the UFT, he needs to resign. Pronto. Workplace rights are not bargaining chips or for sale.

UFT Sex Scandal Rocks New York City by Betsy Combier 
Parentadvocates.org
LINK


Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, and currently being attacked by UFT members fed up with his “do nothing” approach to the rubber rooms continuing and the denial of rights at grievance hearings, etc., are now confronted with the cover up of Mike’s alleged affair with a married teacher from his old school, William Grady HS, Emelina Camacho-Mendez. Some say there is more, including special education fraud at the school while Mulgrew was there. Both Mulgrew and his girlfriend moved suddenly to the UFT and now hold positions of power there, he as President and she, as the liaison to the Department of Education for special education. I have their personnel files.


 
Mike Mulgrew

Two years ago John Haggerty, a teacher who was removed from his job at a Brooklyn public school and forced to sit at the worst of 8 rubber rooms (Park Place, Brooklyn), told me that I should look into when and why Mike Mulgrew was removed from his position at William Grady High School in Brooklyn in 2004 or 2005.

When I asked John about this he told me that Mike Mulgrew was found by staff, he believed it to be Donald Herb, the Custodian, having sexual relations with a teacher who is married to someone else. Her name is Emelina Camacho-Mendez. He told me that I could speak with a few people, and he gave me some names. He was outraged that Mike could “get away with this” without any investigation. This was, he said, a “UFT Cover-up” of the highest order.

One of the people he told me to speak with was “Debbie”, at the other Brooklyn rubber room, 25 Chapel Street, who was a teacher at Grady. I did not remember meeting Debbie on my weekly visit to Chapel Street, because she was there only for a few weeks, not months or years, as everyone else (read the story about Steve Ostrin, accused of sexual harassment, there was no investigation, but he sat in the rubber room for almost 7 years, then was given a 6-month suspension without any evidence, and no help from the UFT). 

At my next visit I found Debbie, and sat with her a while. She kept saying over and over again that she had Mike Mulgrew on “speed dial” and she was not going to be sitting in the rubber room very long, because Mike knew that she “had stuff” on him, and he would either get her put back in her job or some other position soon, or she would tell his story to anyone and everyone. A few days later she was magically back in her teaching position.

Then I found out from John that he had leukemia. As he was getting more and more ill, I spent time with him at his house near to Brooklyn College. The last time I saw him, he told me again that he wanted me to look into the Mike Mulgrew affair because this was not fair to all the UFT members who relied on him for their jobs, and he was doing nothing to help anyone while he, Mulgrew, got away scot free.

After John died, the rubber rooms were “closed” (the April 15, 2010 agreement only scattered the imprisoned members), and the UFT – Mike Mulgrew, Ellie Engler, Leroy Barr – decided to get rid of me. So, on July 7, 2010, I was called by Angela Berry, the UFT staff Directors’ secretary, to Ellie Engler’s office. Engler and David Hickey were sitting there. I wondered if she was going to ask me if I wanted a drink from her liquor drawer in her desk. She didnt, this time (I dont drink the hard stuff, anyway, altho’ I dont turn down a glass of wine). She told me that I had done a great job for all members, and the UFT was very grateful for my wonderful advocacy, but as there were no more rubber rooms, they did not need me anymore. There were no members who needed help.

I said, ok, I guess you will give me two weeks? She said yes. 

I loved my job as a staff representative at the UFT, partially because I could see the pained faces of Leroy Barr, John Settle, and many others when I asked them – no, begged them – to pick up the telephone once in a while so that a member could be helped. All my efforts to get anyone at 52 Broadway to assist a member fell on deaf ears, so this was a problem. Another problem was that I was able to see actions and read emails that showed disdain for the very members that the UFT was supposed to support, like those who were parked in the “Rubber Rooms”, and people I was hired to help. 

Anyway, about two years ago I mentioned to a reporter of a major newspaper that I had heard this stuff cited above, about Mike Mulgrew, and we got the personnel files of both Mike and Emelina, asking for the information separately. The reporter got the information within a week or two, and I was refused for more than a year. Joe Baranello doesn’t seem to believe that this kind of disparate treatment is wrong, so I will be addressing this soon.

Here is the information I received from the DOE after I filed Freedom of Information (FOIL) requests (broken down into sections because my scanner would not scan in all pages at once):
Michael Mulgrew
Personnel file1
Personnel file2
Personnel file3
Personnel file4
Personnel file5

Emelina Comacho-Mendez
FOIL papers1
FOIL papers2
FOIL papers3
FOIL papers4

About a month ago I saw Joy Hochstadt at 51 Chambers Street, serving Theresa Europe some legal documents. I asked her whether she knew anything about the Mulgrew/Mendez affair. ThenAttorney Joy Hochstadt filed her federal lawsuit in the Eastern District, and now the allegations are public property. I believe that as the UFT keeps paying people for political reasons, like David Hickey, Burton Sacks and Ron Isaac, members should know what is going on with their UFT dues. I will gladly tell all that I know, including the channeling of political support and money to parent activists such as Leonie Haimson and Mona Davids. 

So, what’s the truth, Mike? Why did the Principal of Grady sue you and Ellie Engler in 2005? What was the settlement? The public does need to know.

And why are you on the payroll of the DOE through 2010?

Did you hide your affair and other actions at William Grady, then decide you would not help members put into the same situation? If so, perhaps you should resign.

UFT ‘sex coverup’
Union chief caught in act at school: lawsuit

By SUSAN EDELMAN, NY POST, Last Updated: 12:19 AM, May 20, 2012
LINK

EXCLUSIVE

UFT President Mike Mulgrew was caught “in flagrante delicto” with a guidance counselor at William Grady HS, where he taught before becoming the union’s boss, a bombshell lawsuit charges.

The accusation that Mulgrew was seen having sex with a co-worker in a woodshop at the vocational school, and that it was hushed up, comes in a rambling 73-page suit filed in Brooklyn federal court last week by Andrew Ostrowsky, a math teacher at Frank Sinatra HS of the Arts in Manhattan.

Ostrowsky, 35, names Mayor Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Mulgrew and the UFT, claiming the teachers union conspired with school officials to quash the scandal. It accuses the city of using the favor to “extort” labor concessions.

The suit claims that a custodian found Mulgrew and Emma Camacho-Mendez together at the Brooklyn school, and that the custodian and principal were “sworn to secrecy and denial.”

It charges the pair were shielded by then-UFT President Randi Weingarten to avoid embarrassment to the union leadership.

“Mulgrew was embroiled in a meretricious scandal for which anyone else would have been fired, ending his career as an educator,” the suit claims.

Mulgrew’s spokesman, Dick Riley, gave a curt response: “This lawsuit is a catalog of absurd, false charges which we expect the court to dismiss.”

Camacho-Mendez, now a UFT official, said, “I have no comment on that. It’s the first I’ve heard of such an allegation. I have nothing to say to you.”

The lawyer who filed the suit, Joy Hochstadt, told The Post she is seeking evidence of the alleged tryst.

“Everyone has only hearsay knowledge, but almost everyone in the school talked about it,” the suit says.

Several former staffers at Grady HS have told The Post they believed Mulgrew and Camacho-Mendez, who is married, were romantically involved, and there were rumors of an encounter on a drafting table at the time.

“The sex thing, it’s between them and nobody’s business,” one said. “The thing that upset me is the patronage job to Mendez — rewarding her with a high-paying job with my union dues.”

In 2005, soon after the alleged incident, Mulgrew became UFT vice president for career and technical high schools. Around the same time, Camacho-Mendez transferred to the HS of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn, but got a part-time job in Mulgrew’s union office.

She was later given the full-time position of UFT liaison for special education. She gets two paychecks — $22,000 in UFT compensation on top of her $85,000 city salary, although she’s no longer a guidance counselor. In 2010, Mulgrew presented Camacho-Mendez with a UFT award.

“No one ever heard of this woman until Mulgrew brought her on board,” said a longtime UFT rep. “She had no union credentials.”

Mulgrew was tapped to finish Weingarten’s term in 2009, when she left to head the American Federation of Teachers. In April 2010, he was elected to a three-year term to succeed her.

One of the most powerful labor leaders in the country, the fiery Mulgrew has fought Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education on such issues as reversing the last-in, first-out policy in laying off teachers; plans to close struggling schools; and the public release of teacher ratings.

The UFT pays Mulgrew $250,400 a year, plus benefits.

Ostrowsky, a 10-year veteran, claims in the suit he’s being “targeted” for termination because an assistant principal gave him his first “unsatisfactory” rating last December. Supervisors also ordered him to undergo a DOE medical/psychological exam, but he wasn’t found to be unfit.

Hochstadt, who has sued the DOE over its notorious “rubber rooms” for teachers accused of misconduct, filed a similar suit for Ostrowsky last month in Manhattan Supreme Court.

She added the alleged sex scandal and coverup to the federal case, which complains the UFT has betrayed members by caving in to the DOE on several issues. Under one agreement, teachers “excessed” from closing schools, no matter their seniority, must work as substitutes until another school hires them. Walcott last week proposed buyouts for most of 831 educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve.

Ostrowsky seeks a purging of any negative documents in his file, and more than $600,000 in damages, including payment for “defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

susan.edelman@nypost.com

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