How do I file a Part 83 Moral Character Complaint against my administrator? What is it? Who can file for one?
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The NYS Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA) investigates allegations concerning the moral character of individuals who hold or who are applicants for New York State teaching certificates, or about the illegal practice of the profession by an uncertified person. Under the law, School District Superintendents must file a report with the Department upon the knowledge that a certificate holder has been convicted of a crime or has committed an act that raises a reasonable question about the individual’s moral character.
Complaints against certificate holders including teachers, administrators, and school service workers, e.g., school counselors, should, in most cases, be filed with the Department only after the matter has been reported and addressed for remedial action by the appropriate authorities at the local level, including school building principals, superintendents of schools and State and/or local police.
Any person who knows that a certificate holder or an applicant for a teaching certificate has been convicted of a crime, or has committed an act which raises a reasonable question as to the individual’s moral character, may file a written complaint with the Department. Complaints submitted must be signed and dated by the individual filing the complaint.
Complaints received by the Department will be reviewed pursuant to Part 83 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to determine the appropriate action.
Instructions for Completing the Complaint Form
To complain about instances of poor moral character by a teacher or school administrator certified by the State of New York, or about the illegal practice of the profession by an uncertified person, you must complete a complaint form .
Type or print clearly in black ink. Describe your complaint as completely as possible. If you do not have a daytime telephone number, it is helpful if you can provide a number where a message can be left for you during the day. If you have any papers that support your complaint, please attach copies. Do not send originals. If you have physical evidence, it is important for you to retain that evidence in its original condition.
Be sure to sign and date your complaint and send it to the address below.
Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Ave, Room 981 EBA
Albany, NY 12234
When your complaint is received, it will be assigned to an investigator who will contact you in writing or by telephone. You will have an opportunity to explain your complaint in more detail. If we do not have the authority to investigate your complaint, we will refer it to the appropriate agency.
Contacting Local Authorities by Email to File a Separate Complaint
You can also contact local authorities by email to file a separate complaint. For example, you can email the NYC Commissioner of Investigation, the Mayor, the Speaker of the City Council, the Chair of the City Council Education Committee, and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. You will have to look up their email addresses individually since these are positions that change frequently.
Here is a sample email one of our council members submitted in 2014 regarding her former administrators (note their names and the school’s name have been censored).
December 17, 2013
Dear Commissioner Gill Hearn, Ms. Quinn, Mr. de Blasio, Ms. James, Mr. Bharara (via US Mail), Mr. Davies, and Mr. Johnson:
I am hereby lodging a complaint against several employees who work for the New York City Department of Education. They are Ms. A U, Mr. J V, Dr. R L, and Ms. E P. I understand that educators are often the victims of spurious complaints, but I have evidence to back up my claims that Ms. A U was engaged in conducting unauthorized raffles, with student participants, while she was principal of ABC School in the Bronx. This is an ongoing issue at the school. Assistant Principal J V, Dr. R L, and Ms. E P were also aware of and participated in the unsanctioned raffles for students during 2011 and 2012.
At the moment, I have refrained from contacting the media. I wish to defer this entire matter to all of you so that you can, if you deem it appropriate, issue your own press releases or official statements. I would prefer it if you did not refer my allegations to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District (SCI), because in the past, that office has, in turn, referred many cases involving DOE officials, teachers, and administrators to the Chancellor’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). There is always the possibility of a conflict of interest arising because that office is not independent of the Department of Education.
According to Chancellor’s Regulation A-660 (which is attached to this email), “The sale of raffle tickets to or by children is prohibited. Any sale of raffle tickets must be done in compliance with the provisions of the New York State General Municipal Law and applicable regulations of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board” (see page 33 of the attachment). As a teacher at the ABC School, I witnessed Ms. A U and Mr. J V selling raffle tickets to students (who had not been banned from purchase for infractions) for fifty cents per ticket. Students who were in good “academic standing,” had not been cutting class, and had not been suspended were eligible to buy tickets for the raffle. Students bought tickets for the purpose of being able to win expensive sporting equipment and Apple electronics in raffles that took place in December 2011 and December 2012. I have been informed that another raffle is planned for December 20, 2013. The occurrence of these raffles had not been shared with parents via letters or other communications from the school. According to NY General Municipal Law § 195-a:
“No person under the age of eighteen years shall be permitted to play any game or games of chance conducted pursuant to any license issued under this article. Persons under the age of eighteen years may be permitted to attend games of chance at the discretion of the games of chance licensee. No person under the age of eighteen years shall be permitted to operate any game of chance conducted pursuant to any license issued under this article or to assist therein.”
In this video at the following link — http://vimeo.com/34768875 — from about 23 seconds to 4 minutes, 56 seconds, you can see Ms. A U, Mr. J V, and several teachers raffling off at least twenty laptops, iPods, and tablets. Ms. A U has also allowed students to draw names out during the raffle, thereby violating General Municipal Law. Dr. R L and Ms. E P are consultants who were present during the Christmas raffle in December 2012. I am aware of Part 83 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, which permits the NYS Education Department to become involved in the determination of an educator’s “good moral character.”
Part 83 — Determination of Good Moral Character
If you look at the video at the following link — http://vimeo.com/33928152 — and then advance the video to 6 minutes, 8 seconds, you will see Ms. A U raffling off two very extravagant gift baskets. According to the NYC DOE Standard Operating Procedures Handbook (see Adobe Reader page 16 [numbered page 15] of the attached document), “Only moderately priced incentives, with a market value of less than $25, may be given to students as part of an officially sanctioned incentive program such as dropout prevention, honor roll, attendance, etc. are permitted.” To reiterate, all ABC School students were eligible for buying tickets in the raffle unless they were suspended, had cut class, or were not in good academic standing. In one of the gift baskets, you will see a bottle that looks like either wine or champagne. According to Regulation A-660 and the PA Guide for Conducting Raffles, “Alcoholic beverages shall not be awarded as prizes.”
I have also been informed that Ms. A U permits unsanctioned raffles at PTA/PA meetings to “bribe” parents to attend PTA meetings. In the past, she has raffled off electronics and Broadway tickets. She has improperly purchased these items using her Procurement Card (P-card) in an inappropriate fashion. I have attached an Excel printout of the purchases on her P-card statements. According to Chancellor’s Regulation A-660, New York State law, and the Regulations of the Racing and Wagering Board, organizations are required to obtain an identification number and license before conducting a raffle. I am not certain if ABC School ’s PA/PTA has obtained an identification number and license.
While my allegations alone might not convince you that Ms. A U, Mr. J V, Dr. R L, and Ms. E P indeed acted in the way I have described, the linked videos (which were recorded by a teacher at ABC School) and Principal A U’s P-card statements may convince you that there is merit to them. I do believe that the conduct of the named administrators was highly inappropriate and unethical, and very likely runs afoul of both General Municipal Law and the Penal Law.
For the public good, I would very much appreciate it if you would conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation of my allegations. Accountability in the Department of Education is the key to a healthy and effective public school system. If you have additional questions about my allegations, you may call me at ____________________. or email me at ____________________.
Thank you very much for your time and presumed interest.
I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Disclaimer: The Site cannot and does not contain legal advice. The legal information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.
Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of legal advice. The use or reliance of any information contained on this site is solely at your own risk.