Lots of workers waste time at work, but few would want to broadcast video of themselves doing it. But New York technology teacher Francesco Portelos is doing that just to protest his suspension, which he says has left him to languish in a "rubber room" -- a detention center for teachers.
Portelos (pictured above) wants taxpayers to see where the dollars that pay his salary are going, New York's Daily News reports. "I'm getting paid $75,000 to sit around." So he's streaming live images of himself from the office where he must sit and wait for an disciplinary hearing.
The live stream (embedded below) shows Portelos sitting in what appears to be a conference room, looking at a laptop. Sitting on the table, among other things, is a sign that says "I'd rather teach!!" and a "Don't Tread On Me" flag, The Associated Press reports (via WCBS in New York).
The 34-year-old teacher was pulled from his classroom at Intermediate School 49 on Staten Island last spring after knocking heads with administrators. Portelos, who is the elected chapter leader of his school, alleges that his "timeout" in one of New York's infamous "rubber rooms" is retribution for having blown the whistle on administrators "engaging in financial misconduct."
No charges have been filed against the principal, Linda Hill, who didn't respond to requests from media for comment.
Officials at the Department of Education declined to list the allegations against Portelos, but said that they were serious enough to warrant his removal from the classroom, the New York Post reports.
They also denied that rubber rooms still exist.
Faced with public ridicule, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city's teachers' union agreed two years ago to do away with the reassignment centers and speed up hearings for teachers accused of wrongdoing or incompetence. Before the agreement, teachers sometimes languished for years in the "rubber rooms" as they awaited possible disciplinary action.
Following the agreement, teachers were to be assigned to administrative work or non-classroom duties in their schools while their cases were pending.
And that's still the case, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Connie Pankratz. "All teachers who have been reassigned are working under supervision in an administrative capacity," she said, adding: "Francesco Portelos has been extremely difficult to work with, was transferred twice, and there are multiple investigations pending against him."
Portelos told the Post that most of the allegations against him involve frivolous charges, such as hacking into his school's website.
"I'm very tech-savvy, and for the short five years of my career used that knowledge to educate and improve the school," Portelos wrote in an email to the Daily News.
"Now," he added, "I have to use my tech savviness to survive."
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