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Embattled Jamaica principal returned to the city’s payroll

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For his supporters, who want the beloved educator back at his former school, the wait has been almost too much to bare. "We just wanted to hear him say, 'I recommend him being put back in 268,'" said Maxine Gallmon, treasurer of the school's parent teacher association, in reference to the arbiter's recommendation.A session for closing arguments in the case has been tentatively set for March 9, at which point a binding ruling could be issued by the arbiter. The case was expected to end during the last session, held Feb. 9 at the city Education Department's Office of Investigations across the street from the Tweed Courthouse headquarters in Manhattan. But K'Tori's lawyers had not received copies of the latest transcripts and asked for more time. The arbiter, Martin Shineman, agreed to the request. Pending the closing arguments, he suggested to both sides, however, that he would find K'Tori guilty of some unspecified charges but innocent of others. He said the maximum penalty he was prepared to impose was a three-month unpaid suspension, which K'Tori has already served. As such, Shineman recommended the principal be immediately restored to the payroll."It would be a waste of the public's resources for you to remain suspended beyond these three months," Shineman said, asking that the principal be back on the payroll by Feb. 14. K'Tori was charged with insubordination and conduct unbecoming his position, and the Education Department wanted him fired. He was accused of tampering with his school's lottery, not turning in a report on time, trying to block the placement of a special education class, throwing papers at a supervisor and failing to follow procedures for ordering books while in charge of another school.The lawyer for the Education Department, Stanley Trybulski, emphasized that the case is not yet over. "I hope he will listen very carefully to the department's closing remarks prior to making his decision," the attorney said of Shineman. K'Tori was reinstated as a principal Monday and placed at a different school, a spokeswoman for the Education Department said. But because the department does not comment on personnel matters, she could not name the school. Sources said K'Tori had been assigned to IS 8 in Jamaica, part of School District 28, but the placement could not be confirmed.During his suspension, K'Tori said parents had been helping him out financially and thanked them as he sounded an optimistic note. "Placing me back on the payroll is a good first step," he said. "Now that I'm on the payroll I'll have to be somewhere. We now wait for the decision."K'Tori said he was confident his reputation among students and parents would lead to his reinstatement at PS/IS 268 and noted that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein had become involved his case, which is based on charges leveled by supervisors at the regional level. "The department is being very positive about this," K'Tori said.Still, if Shineman finds K'Tori guilty of some of the charges and imposes a penalty, the department could decide where the principal ends up."We'll keep making noise," Gallmon, the PTA treasurer , vowed. "We'll keep up the pressure."Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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