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Tenure hearing begins for Paterson teachers’ union chief | Paterson Times

Tenure hearing begins for Paterson teachers’ union chief

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The tenure hearing that will decide the fate of the teachers’ union president John McEntee, who is accused of unbecoming conduct, began at the district headquarters on Thursday morning.

McEntee was charged with two counts of conduct unbecoming by the school board on March 30th, 2017. He has been on unpaid suspension for 120 days since then. At the hearing on Thursday his side would not consent to having the two days of hearing open to the public.

“Arbitration are private by nature,” said McEntee’s attorney Sanford Oxfeld. He recognized it was both an arbitration and a tenure hearing. He would not say whether it was his or his client’s decision to keep the public out of the hearings.

When asked if the decision was made by McEntee, Oxfled replied, “He doesn’t make decisions.” School officials on their side consented to allowing the hearings to be public.

Arbitrator James Mastriani could not open the hearings to the public without consent from McEntee’s side.

The charges against McEntee stem from an exchange he had with vice principal Sharon Davis on Dec. 19, 2016 at the Frank Napier Academy. He was at the school with two other union officials that day to question Davis about a confidentiality clause in the signature of her emails to teachers.

McEntee told Davis that clause was sufficient for the Paterson Education Association to file a grievance, according to the testimony of a supervisor, who was in the meeting room.

The exchange became tense and the vice principal ordered the union chief out of her office. She called security to have him escorted out. McEntee has maintained he was conducting “protected union activity” at the school.

McEntee is accused of threatening and “verbally and physically” intimidating Davis. He is also accused of “falsely” stating he was “forcibly rejected” from the school by security. Surveillance footage released by the district as part of an open records request showed McEntee and the other two union officials leaving the school building without intervention from security staff.

The 3,000-member strong union has rallied behind McEntee. Members viewed the charges against their chief as a way for former superintendent Donnie Evans to muzzle and retaliate against their outspoken union leader.

McEntee has been critical of Evans’ policies and actions in the district. He organized a no confidence vote against the ex-superintendent and leaked a New Jersey Supreme Court filing where Evans appeared to support the overturning of Abbott v. Burke, a landmark court decision that requires the state government to adequately fund poor school districts.

Evans’ standing was severely damaged by the leak of the court filing. He was seen as little more than a tool of governor Chris Christie’s rather than an ardent defender of the almost 30,000 students, mostly from low-income families, that he was tasked to educate.

The state has badly underfunded the city’s school district over the years by millions of dollars, according to the Newark-based Education Law Center.

Evans filed the charges seeking not to revoke McEntee’s teaching license, but for his suspension.

School officials had witnesses to testify at the hearing on Thursday morning. A second hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Email: jay@patersontimes.com

Correction (Sept. 14, 2017): A previous version of this erroneously stated suspension was for 180 when in fact it was for 120 days.

  • Dominick Perez

    This do-nothing makes about $200,000 a year in perks, salary and benefits, plus what he's able to shakedown during negotiations and other assorted bribery… Must be nice…

    • MarquinhoGaucho

      Union president doesn't make any where near that . The union isnt in charge of contracts or hiring so where is the supposed bribe money coming from? The real corruption is in the charters. The heads of the Charter schools make 300K a year, the Gulen schools bring in teachers from Turkey and force them to pay kickbacks called tuzuks. Where is the investigation?

      • Dominick Perez

        The kids who graduate from many of the charter schools receive an actual education. As for Paterson students, well let's just say that's not the case. The unions hate them because they're cutting into their racket. All unions are crooked vacuums which suck up the dollars of the members in the form of dues, then hand those dollars over to the Democrats so that they can receive even more money back for the failing schools. Teachers work six months a year, get great benefits, and the kids get socially promoted. They don't even teach cursive handwriting anymore. As for the Gulen Schools I agree the whole operation is a scam, lock him up along with guys like McEntee who get fat feeding off the public trough

        • mark digiacomo

          Dominick Perez you are a dolt if you think teachers make the decisions about what is taught in the classroom that is an administrative function. Additionally, teachers do not make decisions on social promotions that is another call made by district supervisors.

          • Dominick Perez

            Ohh ok, so it's not the teachers' fault that the kids they teach are illiterate, it's the principals' and other administrators! The buck doesn't stop with the actual instructors, it's the supervisors' fault. Got it.

          • mark digiacomo

            That's not what I said, I was making a comment on your misconception of areas of decision making in curriculum and promotion. Do you agree parents, teachers and administration share responsibility for our children's education ?

        • MarquinhoGaucho

          The Charters just do smoke and mirrors, where the lowest performing kids are dropped in a scam called "attrition" . They release them after october when budgets are set so they keep the $$ and pass on the costs to the public schools. The kids in the public schools get an actual education if they so choose. .Charters are just a scam to bilk tax payers and do NOT save us $$. Its just they pay teachers less so the hedge funds and make more profit. The Unions ensure work place protections from evil administrators who try to fire them because they are Latino , White or their lover needs a job. Don't forget, labor day, sick days, a minimum wage standard workweek and other things you take for granted are all thanks to unions.

  • MarquinhoGaucho

    McEntee will be cleared. This was a union busting tactic. Sharon Davis is a pathological liar who regularly created false charges against the teachers at Napier school where she was despised and no one went to her farewell. Also she is no longer in the district, Hoboken are idiots for hiring her. Christie's lackey Evans is gone. Evans was never for the children of Paterson , he was brought in to create a failing dysfunctional system which he did all while benefiting the charters to the public schools detriment. He will not be missed in Paterson. Good riddance to that carpet bagger.

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