Help! I’ve been invited by my principal for a meeting that “might lead to disciplinary action”! What do I do?
This question is important because so many members do not know their rights. First off …if they go in without representation, but then they realize that it is going south fast, the member has the right to get up, end the meeting, and state that they now want representation. The representative does not not have to be the Chapter Leader (CL) or delegate, but can be any UFT member. If there is a colleague of yours or a Special Rep you trust, bring them. DO NOT GO IN ALONE!
Also, most principals are working from a script that they have been sent. If the principal has conducted a school-based investigation (SBI) then the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) has kicked it back to them. Most errors in investigations come when this happens. This is where things can be questioned. When were the interviews taken? Who did the interviews? There are protocols for these. Read each statement. Are there conflicts? If 34 students were in the classroom, but only three were interviewed, your representative should question why.
Sometimes there is an investigation and you will be asked to sign a waiver. NEVER sign the waiver, as the administration will later attempt to accuse you of having retaliated against student witnesses! Always make the administration redact student names from the witness statements. It’s important for you to read what was said about you.
Check the timeframes. Oftentimes investigations are out of compliance for timeframes.
The member has to understand that a disciplinary letter can still be placed into their official school file even with these mistakes. Grievances have to be filed ….a pain in the ass, yes, but that is the process.
No letter should be issued at the disciplinary meeting. (If that happened while I was representing a member, I would ask the member to leave the room. At that point, the principal and I would have it out). Your representative should always try to fight for a counseling memo or warning.
My principal is trying to bully me into talking! What do I do?
Know the language of the Fifth Amendment. You have a right to not incriminate yourself.
In a meeting that is disciplinary in nature, if you are asked a question, you should say very little (regardless if you are tenured or probationary), and let your Chapter Leader/Rep speak for you.
You can say, “I cannot recall” or “I don’t know!”
If your principal tries to catch you in a meeting that doesn’t seem disciplinary in nature BUT seems suspicious, when the principal asks if you know what the meeting is about, ALWAYS SAY “NO!”