Principal Heather Jansen and Her Student Rat Pack
Heather Jansen was appointed principal of PS 46 in Staten Island, NY in September 2021. When she started working there she held a staff meeting where she told staff that the school was “racist” because all of the staff were white folk. She enlisted a group of students in 2nd-4th grades to report on teachers and these children were rewarded for their work as her “little investigators.” What they complained about became charges against the teacher. The process of creating charges used to be under the authority of the adults in the building or parents, so Jansen added a whole new dimension by adding children’s complaints to the mix.
For more on this topic, please see ADVOCATZ.com
New York City employees are reassigned to rubber rooms and are seldom told why.
Heather Jansen, former principal of PS 46 on Staten Island, knows very well why she was removed May 1, 2023. She used secret tape recorders and very young children to report on teachers in order to get the teachers terminated for no reason or, some suspect, for being “white”. Her Supervisor, Marion Wilson, has openly attacked white people working in her District, D31.
Let me give you an overview of the charging process before the actual 3020-a specifications are served on an educator.
The charging of an employee starts when a principal gives a teacher two end-of-year Ineffective or Unsatisfactory ratings, or someone makes a complaint to a member of the school administration. The allegation may not be true. It gets filed with OSI or SCI nonetheless.
Heather Jansen, former principal of PS 46 in Staten Island, put a new twist to this old scheme. Jansen enlisted a group of students in 2nd-4th grades to report on teachers and these children were rewarded for their work as her “little investigators.” What they complained about became charges against the teacher. The process of creating charges used to be under the authority of the adults in the building or parents, so Jansen added a whole new dimension by adding children’s complaints to the mix.
We call this a “Student Rat Pack”.
Let’s take a look at the charging process. Principals have to balance their budgets and this takes precedence over quality of work. Animosity towards an employee for any reason also becomes a primary reason to target an employee, no matter how good their teaching skills are, and no matter whether the allegation against a person is valid or not. We are, as we all know, in tough times. Students are not enrolling in the numbers needed to fill seats in their building. As funding is tied to “seat time”, or the number of warm bodies (meaning “alive”) that fill the seats available, principals must try to find out what they can do to keep the funding stream coming into their building.
The solution is to reduce the number of teachers in the school who eat up the budget money, and secretly move the money into other areas the principal believes are more important – i.e. test prep, professional development, and his/her pocket.
I will give you an example. Several years ago one of my clients, a highly respected, excellent general education pedagogue, was given a U (“unsatisfactory”) for her work in an Integrated Co-Teaching Class (ICT). However, a close review of the observation reports showed that whenever the principal came in to observe, the Special Education teacher who helped this teacher with the lesson by adapting it to the students with disabling conditions (IEP-Individualized Education Plan) was not in the classroom. This special education teacher was deliberately assigned by the principal to work in the principal’s office during the class that was to be observed. The general education teacher requested that the principal come back on another day, but the principal said no, gave the excellent teacher an unsatisfactory, and then an unsatisfactory at the end of the school year.
The next year the principal gave the teacher a Teacher Improvement Plan (“TIP”) that was, according to the principal, designed to “help” the excellent teacher “improve”, according to a standard that was subjective, random and arbitrary. The teacher was never given any notice of this standard, so she could not – and did not – meet the unknown expectations of the principal in her performance. The excellent teacher was placed into a rubber room to await 3020-a charges which were served about two years later, after the NYC Department of Education created the charges and rounded up the witnesses they needed to terminate her. This is, of course, a set up. See the secret Guide on how to terminate an “incompetent” teacher:
Performance-doc by Joseph Belesi
The documents and procedures to get rid of a tenured teacher is highly scripted (see p. 12 “Tell the Story of Incompetence”). If the teacher is actually not incompetent, the principal will make up what is not there. More on this in a later post. My point here is that Jansen and all principals can ignore all the rules and alter a person’s rating downward at any time just because they want to, so that the person can be discontinued or terminated.
There are no facts in observations. Observation reports “consist solely of advice, criticisms, evaluations, and recommendations.” Elentuck v. Green (202 A.D.2d 425). Therefore, any principal can get anyone on their staff removed simply by observing wrongdoing in the classroom, lack of professionalism, etc. The rating procedure is only as good as the person making the observation wants it to be.
My advice: document everything, Grieve and appeal everything, and rebut all observations or reports that make false statements. Don’t fall for the Union reps’ advice not to do anything or the principal will come after you. The principal will do what they want anyway, but you will be left without a defense.
The procedure to charge a teacher with misconduct is the same, where no one investigates properly and a complaint takes precedence over truth.
For instance, in 2019 a senior teacher with more than 20 years of excellent work was sent to a reassignment “rubber room” and not told why. Several years later she received 3020-a charges for allegedly slapping the face of a kindergartener in her class. She asked me to take her case. The investigator never showed up to testify about the investigation, as he had “retired” (a word the DOE uses lightly). SCI sent another warm body to testify instead. This so-called SCI investigator testified that he could not read the notes of the original investigator, he had been told a few days earlier to show up at the hearing, and he knew nothing about the case other than that the misconduct had been substantiated, even though the teacher charged was not in school that day (she was ill) and the investigators never checked that fact. The teacher we defended was exonerated, and the Arbitrator, Robert Gifford, left the DOE. We were not told why.
Indeed, many arbitrators have told me after they leave/retire/are removed from their positions as 3020-a arbitrators they were told they were too lenient, and did not terminate to the required degree or extent.
Misconduct complaints are more horrific than observation reports because they could lead to Part 83. Part 83 is a hearing held in Albany at the New York State Education Department on sustained 3020-a misconduct charges – let’s say a steep fine or termination. – as a determination of moral character. The Part 83 Hearing Officer can – and almost always does – take away the teacher’s State License.
I have been writing about the “Gotcha Squad” since 2007 and I have many posts on this website as well as my blog NYC Rubber Room Reporter on the rubber rooms, Parentadvocates.org, and 3020-a Arbitration. I think these posts are well worth reading by anyone working for the NYC Department of Education because the NYC DOE does not want anyone to know any of the information there.
For instance, the TAC Memos are, according to a Department attorney, “attorney-client information”, and are not to be made public. Yet I was sent 79 pages of the memos when I filed a Freedom of Information request (“FOIL”) similar to the FOIL of the 3020-a Arbitration hearings which was sent to me with a video and transcript. Again, the misconduct charge may not be true, but the NYC DOE is not concerned about that, only that the budget doesn’t need to be burdened by a teacher’s salary and that someone in the school and/or a parent made a complaint, and the teacher must go.
I gave the background above to give readers some idea of the random and arbitrary actions that clutter the unfair charging process for NYC Department of Education. Heather Jansen, the former principal at PS 46 in Staten Island altered these unfair practices to add her own. She got away with it, at least until May 1 2023 when she was removed, thanks to the fearless actions of staff and the excellent support of both UFT Rep. Shawn Ramos, pictured above, and Staten Island Borough Representative Sean Rotkowitz, who went above and beyond the normal ‘no response’ from the UFT.
In my previous post on my blog NYC Rubber Room Reporter and ATR Connect about the race war going on in District 31 led by Marion Wilson, we believe that Wilson may have allowed Jansen to undermine staff and destroy morale at PS 46 in order to get rid of Jansen (who is white). Last spring the following statement by Marion Wilson was sent to me and others:
“During a school visit with colleagues, and children present, Marion Wilson stated, “All I see is white children, no diversity. This needs to change.” Also, during an in-person meeting with colleagues, she stated, “When I said no more white principals, I meant it,” and the last snippet is of the superintendent sharing her feelings that the island is “still too white” for her. If these comments are not hate crimes, I don’t know what is. Her actions are disgusting, disgraceful, and unbecoming a superintendent.”
Heather Jansen created her own tragic end, with destroyed careers and trashed educational opportunities for the PS 46 students. Never in my twenty years of doing the rubber rooms and 3020-a arbitration have I seen any other principal create under-handed, malicious actions similar to those of Heather Jansen. The purpose was to set up anyone on her staff who she did not like.
Jansen was appointed principal of PS 46 in September 2021. When she started working there she held a staff meeting where she told staff that the school was “racist” because all of the staff were white folk. I did a post already on Superintendent Marion Wilson, with whom Heather Jansen worked for many years.
NYC Rubber Room Reporter: Former Queens Superintendent Jennifer Carreon Sues the NYC DOE For Racist Policies and Discrimination
Whether Wilson’s motive in appointing Jansen was to get rid of white principals and teachers was true or not, Jansen started a reign of terror on her own that destroyed the morale of the school. On parent conference day Jansen called a teacher up and told her that she, Jansen, was going to get Jane Doe to retire or be terminated at a 3020-a. When this teacher wanted to take time off for medical reasons, Jansen told her she would not allow this, as she was going to terminate her co-teacher, and she could not have two teachers out of the same class at the same time. Jansen told her, ” “I’ve got you.” Many staff were fired, or forced out, leaving no professional teachers in their place. Do not bother to try to find a benefit this procedure had for the children in the school, because there is none.
Jansen’s “student rat pack” is similar to what I call the “Gotcha Squad”. The selected students, basically those most in need of support and encouragement, were given permission to get up anytime while in class and tell their teacher they had to go to the bathroom when what they really did was go to the office, walk into Principal Jansen’s room, and tell her what the teacher did that they didn’t like. Then the student was rewarded with candy, McDonalds, pizza, little toys, whatever.
A teacher testified about the select group of students at the 3020-a as follows:
“I had, on several occasions, students come to me to tell me that Ms. Jansen asked them to report on teachers. I had children that were uncomfortable with it. I had students that told me they weren’t rats. I had witnessed students telling some of her rat pack that snitches get stitches. I had students who were starting to bully some of her rats, knowing they were part of the rat pack. I felt like it was a very unhealthy, unsafe environment for children. I felt they were being groomed. A lot of them were needy and looking for someone. And it was, at this point, it was like an insidious. It was horrific to me how children were being used, how parents were coming to me and telling me their children wouldn’t talk to them anymore, and that they were being used and groomed by Ms. Jansen…..
They were given everything from small pop-its, opportunities to shop on her lap top for pop-its, lunches, McDonalds.”
Parents were never told about any of this. Indeed, the students were told by Principal Jansen not to reveal any information to their parents or anyone, because they were her “little investigators”. I know all of this from doing a 3020-a for a teacher who was charged by Jansen with misconduct, which started my digging for the real story. I could not believe what I found. A parent told me that she found out her child belonged to the “Rat Pack” and her daughter told her that she was told never to tell her parent anything, even if asked. Luckily, this student told someone else no longer in the school, and we brought in that person to testify.
A teacher testified that a student who made frequent visits to Jansen’s office
“[would] leave with pencils. If she had — 13 [00:01] in the office, she would give those out regularly to Student A and other students. Whatever prizes she had on hand. Other times she had–she used to keep snacks in the office. Students would leave with that.”
Jansen showed herself to be ready and willing to make up new rules to tarnish the career and reputation of any employee in the school who was not part of her inner circle. She suddenly accused a teacher of erroneously marking a child absent when the child was in the school, a mistake that was always fixed later in the day by the school secretary. Instead, this error led to 3020-a charges, the first time ever seen by anyone who worked at the school. We were told by staff that she put secret tape recorders in every classroom. Everyone was terrified of speaking to anyone about anything. They were also afraid of secret cameras.
In sum, the evidence and testimony in the case of Jane Doe * (name changed to protect her privacy), charged with 3020-a misconduct in December 2022, show a lack of due process in the procedures used to charge her (i.e. improper determination of probable cause), and unprofessional mismanagement of PS 46. Jansen was the mastermind behind a random system using favoritism, cameras, secret tapes and outright lies about staff made by her student rat pack to remove any staff member she wanted to get rid of.
One 3020-a charge alleged that a student came to the office upset with something Jane Doe said, then Jansen tried to force her temporary secretary to file it with OSI, the Office of Special Investigations. But the paraprofessional working as the secretary testified at the 3020-a that she refused to validate the student’s lie about Jane Doe and was soon fired by Jansen.
Another teacher who was seen crying as she left the school told us later that she was made to apologize to Student “A”, who was seven years old, for something she didn’t do, at the risk of losing her job. These events show violations of law so outrageous that they are visible to even the most unwilling mind.
But teachers and staff took action. The UFT arranged for a Vote of No Confidence:
Vote of No Confidence
80% of the school personnel voted against Jansen.
Heather Jansen was removed from PS 46 on May 1, 2023, after staff voted no confidence. We have just heard that she has been appointed a teacher at a Staten Island school starting in September 2023.
Betsy Combier, Editor
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials