Monday, February 01, 2010

"Teacher of the Year" in the NYC public schools? 

A Queens teacher who collects a $100,000 salary for doing nothing spends time in a Department of Education "rubber room" working on his law practice and managing 12 real-estate properties worth an estimated $7.8 million...

Alan Rosenfeld hasn't set foot in a classroom for nearly a decade since he was accused in 2001 of making lewd comments to junior-high girls and "staring at their butts," yet the department still pays him handsomely for sitting on his own butt seven hours a day...

A hearing officer gave him a slap on the wrist -- a week off without pay -- for "conduct unbecoming a teacher." He was cleared to return to teaching. Instead, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has kept the scruffy 64-year-old in a Brooklyn rubber room, deeming him too dangerous to be near kids, officials said.

The DOE can't fire him. "We have to abide by the union contract," spokeswoman Ann Forte said.

So Rosenfeld simply collects his $100,049 salary -- top scale for teachers -- plus full health benefits and the promise of a fat pension, about $82,000 a year if he were to retire today.

His pension will grow by $1,700 each year he remains. He could have retired at age 62, but he stays.

He has also accumulated about 435 unused sick days -- and will get paid for half of them when he retires. With city teachers trying to negotiate a 4 percent pay hike, Rosenfeld stands to get the raise.

All this largesse comes as Mayor Bloomberg threatens to cut 2,500 teachers to help close a $4 billion budget gap.

Meanwhile, the multimillionaire Rosenfeld lords over the rubber room, where he is the oldest and most veteran of 100 teachers. He reports promptly at 7:30 a.m. to the cavernous "reassignment center" on Chapel Street and spreads out at a table cluttered with used paper cups, plastic utensils, bags of food, news clippings and files...

A licensed attorney since 1973, Rosenfeld frequently talks on the phone to clients and other lawyers, insiders say.

"He's always working," one said. City rules forbid staffers to conduct business on DOE time.

He hung up when The Post reached him on his cellphone. Further calls to the cell got the greeting: "Hello, you have reached the law offices of Alan M. Rosenfeld."

Rosenfeld oversees a real-estate empire that includes family homes in Queens worth an estimated $7.8 million, according to city records. The Post found he holds the deeds to 12 properties, mostly one-, two- and three-family homes in Forest Hills, Rego Park and Glen Oaks...

The DOE responded to questions about Rosenfeld in a statement ... "This is not an ideal system, but given the realities of cumbersome state laws and the union contract, we need to balance our obligation to safeguard children with our legal obligation of fairness to teachers," it reads... [NY Post]
Prior coverage on this subject by The New Yorker and a NYC public school teacher.