For six consecutive years, Ann Legra's performance as a teacher has been declared "unsatisfactory." Yet Washington Heights in New York City cannot seem to get rid of this arguably worthless first-grade instructor. Their most recent attempt to dump her from P.S. 173, the city's second try, has failed. From the New York Post:
Hearing officer Eugene Ginsberg upheld charges of Legra's "inability to supervise students," excessive lateness and absence and poor lesson planning in the 2012-2013 school year.
But Ginsberg dismissed evidence that Legra was a lousy instructor, saying she didn't get enough coaching.
He imposed only a 45-day suspension without pay. Legra keeps her $84,500-a-year salary, but is now assigned to a pool of 1,400 teachers who serve as substitutes.
Administrators apparently found her classroom in chaos, with students running around, getting into fights, and attempting karate moves on a door, while she was off in the corner at a table, apparently "re-sharpening pencils" that were too sharp, in order to prevent accidents. In one school year she was absent 27 times and late 37 times.
It is notoriously difficult to fire a teacher in New York City. Reason put together a two-page flow chart here (pdf) describing the lengthy process. That's why a group has filed suit to overturn New York's terrible tenure laws, arguing that they deny students a right to a decent education.
School Choice Week may have ended around the time Katy Perry plowed through the Super Bowl astride a Las Vegas hotel lion statue, but the serious problems that obliterate any sort of accountability at public high schools remain. Check out our coverage from last week, which includes more about both this New York lawsuit and the California case that inspired it, here.
According to the New York Post, Legra has responded to her punishment by filing a federal lawsuit, accusing the city's Department of Education of discrimination on the basis of her race, gender, national origin, and medical disability (asthma). She's not going anywhere without a fight.
And as a reminder of who actually suffers from these union-pushed protections: According to city stats, 98 percent of P.S. 173's students are minorities, 92 percent Latino.