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EDITORIAL: Cyberstalker Francesco Portelos and His Blame Game Must Be Stopped
Francesco Portelos and his gang, UFT Solidarity, have attempted to de-stabilize public school education in New York City by defaming the character and reputation of anyone who says "No, don't do that", or, "You are wrong". Any person who believes that cyberbullies are guilty of harassment are attacked. Francesco believes that everyone BUT him are bullying teachers, ATRs, principals and parents. This is a symptom of the syndrome called the blame game. Harassment which is continual or which pervades the work environment is actionable. I request that you, Francesco Portelos, answer this posting with an apology for all the defamation, lies, and vicious attacks on me and my work as an Advocate before June 10, 2016, or I will be forced to take whatever legal actions I believe appropriate.
   Francesco Portelos   

Since I posted this article on my website and blog NYC Rubber Room Reporter, I have received many anonymous comments which are too insulting to post, but from the comments which are NOT anonymous, the members of Francesco Portelos' gang have threatened and debased my existence. Just imaging if Francesco Portelos had been elected to the Presidency of the UFT and received emails and letters saying he is not doing the right thing?

Robert Provenza, a firm supporter of Francesco, wrote: "I believe you were playing mean ------ it 's not nice to fuck with Bobby ! ( or mother nature )." Huh? I don't get it.

Claudia Giordano Lasky, also a firm Francesco clone, wrote: pot/kettle, etc. (meaning I am the same as Francesco?)

Another Francesco follower - whom I have never met, Christina Vickers: "you are, in fact, an evil f..king c.nt. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with that statement"

and Lucio Celli told the EEOC to put me, his former attorney Steve Morelli, and PERB ALJ Blassman as Defendants in his EEOC Complaint:
Lucio email May 10 2016

Then, not wanting to discuss his attacks with his lawyer, he filed an Amended Complaint by himself, not showing it to his Attorney Jonathan Tand. Then Jonathan Tand and Lucio screamed curses at each other and parted ways. Lucio has a few more weeks to find a new lawyer or proceed pro se. This is Francesco and his crew at work.

Here is Francesco's blackmail of principals that he claims is the mission of his website Don't Tread on Educators (DTOE)

This is UFT Solidarity.

Betsy Combier

EDITORIAL: Cyberstalker Francesco Portelos and His Blame Game Must Be Stopped
by Betsy Combier, Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter

See my blog post on Francesco Portelos

This post is my opinion, and mine alone. If any reader agrees with me, all the better. But do not attack me for writing about the facts that have threatened me and my work for the past 7 months, all because of a bully by the name of Francesco Portelos. In my opinion, his actions are harassing and defamatory.

To Francesco Portelos:
Since September 20, 2016, you and your group have accused me of being a homophobe, a thief, liar, evil fucking cunt, old vicious woman, and more. You have denied me any due process and sent more than 30 emails to 100+ people stating my misconduct as a fact, not your belief. I request that you apologize for lying about my stealing, taping everyone, abusing teachers, and being an evil fucking cunt and a vicious evil old woman, in writing, and send this apology to me no later than June 10, 2016, or I will seek appropriate legal remedies.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, The NYC Public Voice

I never heard anything from Francesco or anyone speaking for him.

All persons targeted by bullies must expose the bullies for who they are. Bullies want to control other people, the environment, their - and everyone else's - future and thoughts. They are willing to defame, lie, harass, mentally and/or physically harm and extort in order to "convince" their target that the only way to do or to see things, is THEIR, the BULLY's way. "Or else".... you will be sorry. The definition of "blame game" is "A situation in which people attempt to blame others rather than trying to resolve a problem."

Please read my prior articles:
Francesco Portelos and NY StateTenure Law

Editorial: Is Francesco Portelos a Danger to Tenure Law? by Betsy Combier

The Francesco Portelos Mob: Who Are They?

The UFT Solidarity Brand is Not What UFT Members Need

Another term used for this type of destruction is "Victim Complex".

Francesco Portelos' way is to mob people. He is the workplace bully that he pretends to fight against. Here is the definition:
Definition: "MOBBING IS...EMOTIONAL ABUSE in the workplace. "Ganging up" by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation. Malicious, nonsexual, nonracial, general harassment. Other expressions for MOBBING are Bullying, psychological terror or aggression, hostile behaviors at work, workplace trauma, incivility, or emotional violence. We consider MOBBING an emotional injury that impacts a target's mental and physical health. MOBBING is a workplace safety and health issue." N. Zanolli Davenport, G. Pursell Elliott, R. Distler Schwartz

This is Francesco Portelos' and UFT Solidarity's way. It's their highway: according to them, they "did nothing, everyone else is guilty of wrong-doing, and they are going to 'get' those other people for you." This is not good leadership, but an appalling way of dealing with conflict, especially in a public school setting.

UFT Solidarity has eleven (11) people running in the election currently underway who proudly stand behind defamatory comments such as: Pauline Shakespeare (a black woman and a principal) should have their faces on bottles of syrup (as in Aunt Jemima); Pauline Shakespeare's face also should be on a bottle of poison, with the poison control telephone number next to it...etc. I printed out almost 200 pages of insults about her alone, on Francesco's libelous website DTOE and A.N.O.I. These eleven people believe that calling a woman an "evil fucking cunt" (see emails below) is ok.

This is Francesco's Council




UFT Solidarity supporter Orlando Cole thought this was funny.
Orlando Cole
I do not know Orlando, but does he have a wife, daughter, girlfriend, female friend who will agree with him, that it is funny to send an email to many people calling a woman he does not know an "evil fucking cunt"?

Here is John Silvers' 3020-a charges and final Decision of the Arbitrator

The point is, why would the NYC Department of Education want to hire ATRs who play this blame game?

They don't. See the transcript of a Court appearance of Francesco's Attorney, Bryan Glass, and New York City Law Department Attorney Jessica Giambrone on Dec. 15, 2014. Attorney Giambrone described the Portelos-UFT Soldarity modus operandi and told the judge that Francesco even went after a parent at IS 49.

Danielle Kushner, loyal member of Francesco's gang, sent out an email urging all uncertified teachers to be exposed so they could be removed:
Danielle Kushner
December 30, 2015, ·
Facebook Groups for iOS
Any parents willing to help and speak out or call 311 and complain about how their are uncertified teachers teaching in NYC schools illegally!!! Teaching fellows that didn't pass tests and did not get licenses yet!!! I have a list of at least 5 schools!!! Have contacted 2 Different media outlets the post and chalkbeat with no responses!

Francesco's digital media expertise has spread the word that ATRs are insulting, harassing people who will torment any enemy until the enemy surrenders. I would not want to be an ATR right now as defined by Francesco in the emails he and his loyal supporters have sent out to all of NYC. I spoke to several people who received these emails, and they are all disgusted. The District Attorney has agreed that this is cyberstalking.

Cyberstalkers are just like physical stalkers, except they stalk through the Internet and email rather than in a face to face environment.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

ATRs, or Absent Teacher Reserve teachers are in a horrible no man's land, truth be told. But Francesco Portelos is giving these educators a definition that may not be good for them in the future. ATRs, defined by Francesco, are attack dogs who will go after anyone who does not do what they want; anyone who stands in their way will be bullied, libeled and defamed.

Jim Geist is an example. Jim Geist was terminated and then sent out a post to his new colleagues, Francesco's UFT Solidarity, that he lost his job because of me. Thanks, Jim! I don't believe you are correct, as I had no input into your arbitration proceeding.

A recently terminated teacher at 3020-a called Solidarity's Lydia Howrilka several months ago, and asked Lydia to put the name of her Principal on the ANOI list. The principal told her two weeks later that she would "get" the teacher for doing that, and sure enough, 3020-a charges were filed three weeks after that last word. Principals are targeting ATRs because of their allegiance to Francesco's belligerent way of doing business. Trying to create fear never works, Mr. Portelos. For whatever it is worth, I believe that your strategy will continue to fail.

Then Francesco decided he would put me out of business, because I refuse to use the blame game/victim complex in my advocacy. None of our clients at ADVOCATZ are/were perfect 100% of the time, but all were given charges that did not reach the standard for Just Cause for termination and we fight to keep termination out of consideration.(We have the best success rate of any legal team working on 3020-a).

Francesco Portelos and his gang, UFT Solidarity, have attempted to de-stabilize public school education in New York City by defaming the character and reputation of anyone who says "No, don't do that", or, "You are wrong". Any person who believes that cyberbullies are guilty of harassment are attacked. Francesco believes that everyone BUT him are bullying teachers, ATRs, principals and parents. This is a symptom of the syndrome called the blame game. Harassment which is continual or which pervades the work environment is actionable.

I believe Francesco and his supporters are angry, bitter employees trying to get administrators to hit them with some kind of misconduct (or they have already done that) so that they can be the heroes who swoop in and save the day. Sometimes I think I am seeing a labor-caused Munchausen by Proxy: make up lies about principals, then go in, and take credit for any trouble the principal gets into. So what if teachers are fired, discontinued, removed along the way? Francesco's goal is to torture principals and the principals' friends, not help teachers. This is not the way to help anyone. As far as I know, Francesco and UFT Solidarity have not successfully completed a single case or resolved a single issue for a teacher, parent, or any person in need. Please email me proof if this is incorrect.

I remember very clearly discussing with Solidarity "attorney" (did he ever get admitted to the Bar?) Victor Jordan ( see my blog post as well) about working together on 3020-a cases, and he told me that he wanted to learn the process so he would do the first hearing for free. I brought a teacher who was going to fire her NYSUT attorney to meet with us, and I told her Victor would not take a fee, only whatever expenses he paid during the hearing. When we met, Victor told her he was charging $3750. I and the teacher were shocked, she left. I spoke to Victor, and he said of course he had to charge half of what he would normally charge, and he forgot to tell me. The teacher was terminated at the 3020-a after she hired a private attorney who said he had done these hearings.

You should also read the libel-line, the comments sent to his Don't Tread on Educators (DTOE) website and his A.N.O.I. list of principals. No one is safe. I find the slinging of dirt on someone appalling unless I have seen the proof of the misconduct. Francesco's lack of respect for anyone, his dislike of confidentiality of anyone's records, his willingness to go after someone's life and career, as well as that of a friend or family member of someone he doesn't like, is disturbing, at best, but definitely astonishingly inappropriate for a public school teacher working as a role model, supposedly, for children. Kids should not be told to respect a teacher who is, at the same time, on the internet saying women are evil c..ts and the like, violating the public trust.

Gregg Morris, an Assistant Professor at Hunter College, and a firm supporter of Francesco Portelos, is pushing for an end to workplace bullying by pushing Francesco's agenda. Good luck with that, Gregg!

1) New York State Senator James Sanders Jr has introduced the bill in the
Senate and it is now in both bodies of the legislature. This is really good
news about getting the bill passed this year. The Bill numbers are S6438
and A3250

Important Reminder: February 8 is a significantly important lobbying session
organized by the New York State Healthy Workplace Advocates. Its focus is
teachers. Many are planning to go to Albany, joined by several activists for

2) UFT Solidarity Caucus supports the NY Healthy Workplace Bill. Text of UFT
Memo follows:

UFT Solidarity Memorandum of Support for NY Healthy Workplace Bill S6438 (James Sanders Jr.),
A3250 (Assemblymember Steve Englebright).A mission of UFT Solidarity is to defend all UFT
members from workplace bullying, which is defined as “a repeated, health-harming mistreatment
of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators and creates a harmful work
environment.” We will provide legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to mistreatment
of employees at work. UFT Solidarity supports the New York State Healthy Workplace Bill. The Healthy Workplace Bill would amend the New York State Labor Law because the “State is
dependent upon healthy and productive employees.” See, S6438/A3250. The bill recognizes that
abusive behavior in the workplace is a problem for employees and employers alike. While employees
enduring bullying may suffer from a host of physical and emotional ailments, employers are
burdened by reduced productivity and morale, increased absenteeism, and high turnover rates.
Thus, the aim of the bill is to protect both parties.UFT Solidarity opposes all forms of discrimination, the law has protected categories of people who have been mistreated on the basis of their status in a protected group—whether it be their race, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, or on the basis of sexual preference. However, despite all of that legislation to protect minorities, the law in the United States — and in New York
State — still fails to protect workers from being mistreated in the workplace where the mistreatment
is not based on a protected status. UFT Solidarity urges our New York State elected officials to support,
bring to a vote, and pass the Healthy Workplace Bill S6438/A3250 in the current legislative session. In Solidarity, UFT Solidarity“ Building a stronger union.”

Gregg Morris
Hunter College/CUNY

For 13 years I have written about, investigated, and assisted employees of the New York City Department of Education as they fight for due process rights. I fight for right and rights as an investigative reporter, paralegal, and advocate. I worked for the UFT from 2007 to 2010 as a special representative, and my duties included visiting all the NYC rubber rooms and assisting members. I have met wonderful, caring, professional teachers, Guidance Counselors, principals, and staff of the NYC DOE - current as well as retired and former employees - who are now, I am proud to say, my friends. We believe that Portelos and his UFT Solidarity broadcast negative, destructive propaganda, and we want nothing to do with him or anyone who associates with him. I include in this conclusion the support of all the 7 attorneys I work with. They believe he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for his belligerent tactics.

I am not, and never have been an employee of the NY City Department of Education, nor am I a lawyer. I am President of a company called ADVOCATZ which assists people in having a voice in what I call the "rubber room" process. My advocacy business is my sole source of income; I do not work for any other organization or private corporation. I also have a 501(C) 3 not-for-profit foundation, The E-Accountability Foundation, which accepts donations and gives grants to people who need to fund their journey through the court system or proceedings, arbitration, or whatever. Neither my consulting business nor my foundation will work with or support people who bribe, extort, harass, defame, slander or libel anyone. Therefore we will not assist anyone associated with Francesco Portelos or his mob groups or websites such as DTOE and A.N.O.I..(See the Pauline Shakespeare posts, for example). CSA General Counsel David Grandwetter: where are you?

UFT Solidarity stands for strategies of threats, harassment, and verbal abuse. Help teachers? Not at all. No one has heard of anyone who won his/her case after getting Francesco's "help".

My friend Laurie, an ATR, asked Francesco whether he got permission to send out a letter to a principal citing this principal's abuse of the teacher before he sent it. What did Francesco Portelos do? He immediately sent to everyone on the Facebook page a post about Laurie's confidential medical information as well as her current ATR status. He thought he taught her a lesson. She took Francesco off of the closed Facebook page, and Francesco was so angry, he started his own Facebook page which he closed to anyone who was friendly with Laurie. Then Francesco's sidekick Lucio Celli attacked me, he was blocked as well by the admins of Laurie's ATR Facebook page, and then Lucio sent out emails to all of NYC blaming me, a "liar", "thief", "evil c...t" for doing this. As if.

And then there is the case of Osman Couey, arrested and charged with alleged corporal punishment of a student in his 2nd grade class. When I read about this in the Daily News, I immediately called Osman, and we met for several hours. He is not guilty of the charges brought against him and will prove it. Did anyone from UFT Solidarity call Osman? No.

Next is Francesco's website suggests that anyone send him your child's IEP. That's outrageous, especially with his record of not keeping anything confidential. I am a parent advocate and do Impartial Hearings, and my oldest daughter had an IEP. I keep each case I do confidential. Francesco's approach would worry me.

Lucio Celli has filed a Federal Lawsuit citing discrimination (see his first Complaint, then his Amended Complaint) . We met in the Bronx rubber room in 2008, and he has called me often over the years. He asked me to assist him by reviewing his writing in his PERB complaint in January 2015 and emails to the principal of his school. I edited the papers and met him countless times for as long as he wanted, throughout 2015. Suddenly, immediately following the video incident with Francesco, when I was called a "homophobe" and I asked Francesco to take it down and he said "No", Lucio sent me a check for $1000 to thank me for my help. I never asked for this money, never created or sent an invoice. never. I gratefully thanked him for the gift. At the same time, teacher Jonathan Hinesley was given 3020-a charges, and we met to discuss. I gave my opinion and experience in the process of the 3020-a hearings, for free. Jonathan settled his case with the NYSUT Attorney but sent me a check for $500 for my time. I thanked him for his gift. He told me he did not want the money back when I offered.

However, suddenly both Jonathan Hinesley and Lucio Celli called me a thief for taking their money, and Francesco sent out a series of emails announcing to all of the teacher listservs and websites that I abused teachers and stole their money. Then he created a poster with my face at the top, and sent it out to all teachers in NYC and the world, telling everyone to demand their money back because I was a criminal.

Francesco, Lucio, Jonathan, and Lydia Howrilka then sent comments to the world, telling everyone that I am an evil c..t, and a "vicious, old woman" who abuses teachers and steals money. He was delighted to learn that I was working with Steve Morelli on a Federal case and a 3020-a, because when the media did the story that Steve was arrested for taking his client's money, therefore I stole money too. Steve Morelli never told me anything about his other cases, and I never knew that he was being investigated for anything. Nonetheless, Steve's arrest meant I was guilty and should also be arrested, according to Francesco.

So, again, why did Francesco, starting in September, vow, on the internet, to end my business and my existence as I know it?

Why did he accuse me of joining up with Randi Weingarten to hurt him and UFT Solidarity, accusing me of setting up the ATRs, and secretly being paid by her to do this, then refuse to believe Randi when she told him that I did a good job for the UFT and was never fired (like Jim Callahan was)?
Why did he threaten Randi with "secret recordings if she did not order me to take down the article about how him?
Why did Francesco call me an evil c..t? His ATR supporter Orlando Cole thinks that this type of name-calling is funny.

Why did Francesco lie about my abusing teachers and stealing their money?

Why did Francesco send out a poster with my face on it, accusing me of criminal misconduct for assisting teachers with their cases, urging all my clients to demand their money back - and then calling me a thief?

I never ran for any office at the UFT, nor would I, or could I, and I cannot even vote - so I am not in competition with Francesco as he tries to win the presidency of the UFT this month.

I believe one reason Francesco and his gang have so viciously attacked me, aside from the fact that this mobbing/bullying is what they do to anyone who does not immediately do whatever they order the person to do and I would not obey, is that when Francesco Portelos edited the video with the speech by Jim Callahan on September 20, 2015, and sent it out across the internet, he, Lydia Howrilka and Jonathan Hinesley thought that I would not find out that he, Francesco, edited the video so that Jim called me a "homophobe". He would get away with this. But I found out, and I wanted to discuss with Francesco about his taking it off the internet after he told me everyone "knew" it was not true - but Francesco refused.

In my opinion - in fact, all of this post is my opinion - Francesco Portelos is an angry, bitter megalomaniac who felt wronged by the New York City Department of Education after he brought attention to the misappropriation of funds at his school IS 49R in District 31 (Staten Island) by the principal, Linda Hill and instead of being rewarded, he was charged with 3020-a misconduct charges. 38 of them. See the decision of Arbitrator Felice Busto, May 2014.
Of course, it is natural to feel angry when you are accused of something and put into a hearing where you are criminalized for your alleged "misconduct". It's embarrassing. Francesco cooked up his strategy to pay the DOE back when he was given a $10,000 fine but not terminated for his sustained charges.

I believe he is a bad influence on schools, kids, parents, teachers, staff, and the NYC DOE. Francesco's charges and Arbitrator Felice Busto's decision to find him guilty of many of them give a very clear and frightening picture of a man, who has the mind of a two-year-old denied a swing in the playground. He will "get you" for whatever he feels you did to him, and he will make you say you are "sorry" or he will make you "sorry" by terrorizing you or your nearest family member or friend. Take a look at Specification #36 below. Francesco was charged with harassing the chapter leader of IS49, Richard Candia, and his girlfriend, after Candia would not help him get rid of Principal Hill.

I have seen this anger many times, but what I have never seen is the poison that he spreads, in particular, the lies which he knows are lies, to bully someone to do something for him "or else" be punished for tainting his hallowed earth. Let's look at the sustained 3020-a charges for a minute:


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent disclosed confidential Department information, including, but not limited to, witness statements, on a non-Department website, including, but not limited to,


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent inappropriately accessed and/or retrieved Department information, including, but not limited to, a Department email account and/or email messages of another Department employee.


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent inappropriately accessed a Department email account and/or email messages of another Department employee.


On or about January 28, 2012, Respondent, without consulting, notifying, and/or seeking authorization from Principal Hill or the I.S 49 administration, accessed the school website,, as a site administrator and manipulated the settings to revoke the administrative rights and/or privileges of all individuals previously granted such administrative access.


On or about February 2012, Respondent refused to transfer control and/or ownership of the school website,, to Principal Hill, I.S. 49, and/or the Department after agreeing to do so at a meeting with Principal Hill and Superintendent Erminia Claudio.


On or about November 2012, Respondent, without consulting, notifying, and/or seeking approval from Principal Hill or the I.S 49 administration, altered the website, which Respondent had created for the school with Principal Hill's approval, to automatically transfer visitors to his alternative website,, which contained derogatory information about I.S. 49, Principal Hill, and/or the Department.


During the 2012-2013 school year, Respondent, without consulting, notifying, and/or seeking approval from Principal Hill and/or the Department, altered the school website,, to automatically redirect visitors to his website,, which chronicled his issues with various groups including Principal Hill, I.S. 49, and the Department.


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent recorded a video in a school facility, namely, I.S. 49, of a student during school hours, without permission or authority.


On or about December 12, 2012, Respondent notified I.S. 49, Superintendent Erminia Claudio, that he showed the video referenced in Specification 33 to parents, without permission or authority.


On or about and in the month of September 2012, Respondent:

A. Sent an email message to a parent without permission or authority stating, in sum and substance, that the teacher who sent their son to summer school was not certified to teach and that this message identified the teacher and indicated that her teaching certification had expired.

B. Failed to notify and/or confirm with I.S. 49 administration that the teacher referenced above lacked certification prior to contacting the parent.


By committing one, some, or all of the actions described in the above Specifications, Respondent's actions:

A. Had a disruptive and/or negative impact on students, staff, and/or administration at I.S. 49 and the Department.

B. Caused negative publicity, ridicule, and notoriety to I.S. 49 and the Department."

All these charges Francesco was found guilty of, and he paid a penalty of $10,000.

On August 25 2015 Francesco had lunch with former UFT President Randi Weingarten, now President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). He told everyone that he was going to get a job at the UFT (like I did). But he did not get a job at the UFT. Randi told me that she would not offer him a job, it doesn't work that way.

On September 20, 2015, Francesco held a meeting for 50 teachers to let them know that UFT Solidarity would defend their rights. The speaker of the evening was my former colleague at the UFT, NY Teacher Jim Callahan. Ironically, Jim made my life torture at the UFT, because he could not stand the rubber room teachers, all of whom, he believed, were guilty of what they were being charged with, and he wanted no part of it. He would not go to the rubber rooms. However, Mike Mulgrew divided up the rooms after I had been visiting all of the rooms for two years, and gave Jim two rooms to visit, at least once in a while. Jim would go to the Harlem TRC, walk-in, say that he was there, stay 5 minutes, then stand in the lobby area for 20 minutes to make headquarters think he actually spoke to the UFT members when he didn't. He tried to stop me from visiting the rooms, then asked for meetings with Ellie Engler and Leroy Barr to force me to stop. He failed, much to his dismay. I visited the rubber rooms every day and ignored him.

I was supposed to be at this meeting in Queens on September 20 2015 but never made it. Several days later Lucio called me to tell me that a video had been sent out where I was called a "homophobe", and he told me that he had sent it to me. I was shocked and called Francesco to take out the parts about me because I am no longer working for the UFT and am President of an independent company. Francesco refused. The onslaught began. I was now, without knowing it, The Enemy.

Francesco Portelos, Lucio Celli, and Lydia Howrilka should all be fired, and Uft Solidarity continue onward as a Truth-to-Power Standard bearer for the UFT members to trust and follow without hate and defamation on their flag.

Betsy Combier
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

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