UFT demands apology for layoffs

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The United Federation of Teachers said it wants an apology from Principal Yvonne Marrero, who initially removed seven teachers from the 25-member staff of PS 222 at 86-15 37th Ave in Jackson Heights, when cuts to the school’s budget only demanded two. Now the other five teachers will be allowed to return to work.

Ann Forte, spokeswoman for the city Department of Education, said that in June near the end of the school year Marrero was instructed to implement a budget cut of 4 percent. After looking at staffing and budget overall, Marrero thought it was necessary to put seven teachers in “excess,” Forte said.

In excess, teachers are removed from their position, but their salary is picked up by the DOE’s central office.

“The person is still on payroll, but does not have a permanent job in the school,” she said.

Teachers remain on excess until they find a job at another school, Forte said.

“Some people have been in excess for four years,” she said.

After further review and working with the central DOE staff, Marrero discovered around July that she only had to excess three teachers for the coming year, Forte said. That number dropped to two when a staff member left to take a job at another school, opening a spot for an additional teacher in PS 222’s budget.

“The Department of Education and its administrators need to follow the rules,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “Guidelines were broken and the principal should apologize.”

Marrero could not be reached for comment.

Forte said teachers have been outspoken against how the situation was handled, but she did not give any specifics.

Isaac Carmignani, one of the co-presidents of Community Education Council 30, said the incident has raised a lot of internal “chatter” throughout the DOE and Parent-Teacher Association.

“It’s being looked into,” Carmignani said. “They contend it was a misunderstanding, which is not hard to believe.”

Carmignani said while budget cuts have been occurring in all school districts, since the state budget has not been finalized, it is not known how much will need to be cut.

“We keep hearing conflicting things,” he said.

Carmignani added he was glad to hear fewer teachers needed to be put on excess than originally thought. He said the individual principals and leadership team have a great amount of authority to move money around and excess on their own, but understood where it could be difficult for the teachers involved.

“Somebody gets told they’re going to get excessed and they’re not — that’s not something pleasant,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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