Fired, finally

After three years of litigation, a New York City teacher and counselor convicted of possessing cocaine can be fired from his job adminstering an anti-drug program.

The state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division decided today that returning Michael Campbell to his job running Intermediate School 72’s “Safe Cities-Safe Streets” program would “defy common sense.”

Campbell, a dean and teacher at I.S. 72, was arrested on felony drug charges in Brooklyn in 2002. The court said he had a bag of marijuana on him and was in a car with 10 bags of cocaine.

Campbell entered a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree and went to a court program for drug counseling.

The teachers’ union backed Campbell’s suit to get his job back, and won the early rounds.

Ten bags of cocaine is a lot, isn’t it?

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Comments

  1. “attempted” criminal possession of a controlled substance

    What, was he reaching for it?

  2. For teachers, probably.

    If the union was a party to the suit after the fellow was convicted, they should be countersued along with the perp by the school district for costs of litigation.

  3. SuperSub says:

    Yet another example of unions trying to keep people teaching who shouldn’t be let near children. Unions don’t protect the average teacher, they empower the greedy and protect the incompetent at the cost of the majority.

  4. Cripes, what does everyone expect from the unions? That their leadership will suddenly and universally decide that the unions job is to determine guilt or innocence? That the union has to be evenhanded, balancing off societies demands against the demands of the membership?

    Come on, it’s a labor union. It exists to get the best possible deal for the membership under all circumstances – period. If that includes going to bat for a teacher over a small item like a conviction for possession of cocaine and marijuana then that’s what the union’ll do.

    It’s what unions do and if you were a member, it’s what you’d expect the union to do and if they didn’t do it to your liking then you just might be angry enough to turn out the old leadership and elect a new on the promise of “no-compromise” defense of each and every member’s job.

  5. SuperSub says:

    Allen-
    If that includes going to bat for a teacher over a small item like a conviction for possession of cocaine and marijuana then that’s what the union’ll do.?

    A small item? You must be smoking it too. The guy pled to the charges, accepting guilt. The union was not forced to judge the teacher… this was not a case of a slandered teacher being persecuted by the administration. He committed a felony, and no felon should be allowed to teach in schools. I doubt many of the union members from his district would have had issues if the union decided not to support him.

  6. ragnarok says:

    SuperSub,

    That wuz sarcasm, that was (“small item”).

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Perhaps it was just material for a math problem. “If you have 10 bags of cocaine with a street value of…”

  8. SuperSub wrote:

    The union was not forced to judge the teacher… this was not a case of a slandered teacher being persecuted by the administration.

    You think that a union withholding support from a member in good standing isn’t passing judgement? It certainly wouldn’t be an example of the union leadership performing it’s duty to it’s membership.

    The only way the union wouldn’t be passing judgement would be to expend union resources doing one of the things for which unions exist: protecting a member’s job.

    He committed a felony, and no felon should be allowed to teach in schools.

    Ya think?

    But of course, that’s not the issue. The issue is under what circumstances a union should withhold it’s resources in the defense of a member in good standing.

    I doubt many of the union members from his district would have had issues if the union decided not to support him.

    Ah, now your starting to edge in on the central fact of the matter: what the membership wants.

    I don’t doubt that in the abstract you’re correct. Most union members probably wouldn’t have much sympathy for this guy. But that’s not quite the same thing as changing the union’s bylaws to require the union to withhold support. That would be step that most union members would veiw with great, and deserved, suspicion.

    An organization that exists to protect the membership’s jobs shouldn’t have too many exceptions to that position, otherwise it undercuts its reason for existance. It’s unreasonable to expect the leadership of an organization to embrace a policy that’ll undercut an obvious reason for the organization’s existance.

    A professional association might withhold support and throw a member out because of the shadow a member like that would cast on the profession. But this isn’t a professional association, it’s a union and unions have different goals. And that’s not going to change any time soon.

  9. Mike in Texas says:

    I’d say conviction for felony drug chares is enough for a union not to represent you.

  10. ragnarok says:

    Unfortunately even professional organisations often do a poor job of weeding out the dregs. Look at the AMA; doctors are highly trained, well-paid professionals, yet they have a shameful record of protecting incompetents.

    In some ways unions are stricter; forget a word in a strike chant and you’re dead meat.

  11. SuperSub says:

    If a union doesn’t exclude felonious activites from their bylaws, then that is the perfect example of why the union is faulty.

  12. Richard Nieporent says:

    Allen,

    I have no more love for unions than you do, but I think you may be going a little too far in this case. It is one think for a union to support a member that is accused of a crime. It is another thing to support a member after he has been convicted of a crime. It is the court that has passed judgment on that individual not the union. Once he was convicted he was no longer a member of the union. Did he pay his dues when he was in jail? Thus their obligation to support him should have ended at that time.

  13. It’s obvious unions protect only their own interests. Teachers who are criminals, druggies, pedophiles, hypocrites, anti-intellectuals, and/or little Stalins are no threat to the union – so they are not only tolerated, but protected.

  14. Mike in Texas wrote:

    If a union doesn’t exclude felonious activites from their bylaws, then that is the perfect example of why the union is faulty.

    Too bad you don’t feel that same way about incompetence.

    ragnarok wrote:

    Unfortunately even professional organisations often do a poor job of weeding out the dregs.

    Yeah, but they they have at least a theoretical allegience to the amorphous notion of “the profession”. Not so with a union. They exist explicitly and unabashedly to secure the best possible deal for their members and any worries about quality or organizational survival are management’s problem.

    SuperSub wrote:

    If a union doesn’t exclude felonious activites from their bylaws, then that is the perfect example of why the union is faulty.

    Which isn’t the issue, is it? The issue is that the union exerted it’s efforts to maintain the employment of a member in good standing even though the member was convicted of a felony.

    Should the union have done that? It’s a meaningless question since I’m not a member of the union or a legislator. That constitutes the sum of the parties who have a legitimate say in how the union conducts its affairs. The legislators representing society and the union members representing themselves. If the members are willing to allow union resources to be expended defending the job of a member who’s been convicted of a felony, that may, or may not, be reprihensible but it is not illegal. The members may prefer to be certain of the union’s support and not concern themselves with whatever damage might result to the reputation of the profession. Their choice.

    Richard Nierporent wrote:

    I have no more love for unions than you do, but I think you may be going a little too far in this case.

    I neither love nor hate unions. In a free society people absolutely have the right to band together to try to use the power of the group to secure a better deal collectively then they could possibly secure individually provided they stay within the law. But since unions are created for selfish ends, to secure the best possible deal for their members, you can’t be too terribly surprised when union’s act in a selfish manner, securing the best possible deal for their members.

    How would you have the union act? Carefully considering the needs of society and then the needs/desires of the members and coming to a Solomon-like decision which struck the inarguably and self-evidently correct balance between the two?

    Get real. Teacher’s have mortgages and their own kids in college and all the rest of the needs, wants, desires and worries of any other American. One thing they’re unlikely to want is to entertain doubts about how forceful their union is likely to be on their behalf when they need the union.

  15. Something is amiss: it seems to me that what’s most glaringly not being explained here is how someone with ten bags of coke can get off pleading to one count of “attempted posession,” which is a ridiculous charge. If this was one of the other boroughs (Brooklyn especially), I wouldn’t be above suggesting the union paid off the DA, but Manhattan is usually thought of as completely above board.

  16. Richard Nieporent says:

    Allan,

    I don’t disagree with you that unions are formed for only one purpose, to benefit their members. Thus they will take extreme positions when it comes to supporting their members. However nothing prevents them from acting rational. Unless a significant percentage of teachers are also drug dealers, how many members would really object to not rehiring someone who was convicted of selling drugs? Thus there was no reason for them to support this drug dealer, because it did not benefit their members. Yet they still did it. In reality you are excusing their behavior by insinuating that because unions are formed to support its members, it makes sense for unions to act irrationally. It does not.

    When the NHL players’ union was attempting to negotiate their new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the owners they took the position that they would never agree to a salary cap. It wasn’t that they disagreed on the percentage they should get; it was that they adamantly refused to tie the players’ salary to the league’s revenue. If the owners were dumb enough to pay the players more money than the league made, that was the owner’s problem, not theirs. Somehow they could not see, or did not care, that under those conditions the league could not have long-term, or in this case short-term viability. In reality, they were taking the “kill the goose that laid the golden egg” position. So after the lockout and the subsequent capitulation on the part of the player’s union, it turned out that their extreme position did not really benefit their members because you cannot violate the laws of economics by paying players more money than the league makes. What a surprise.

  17. Ten “bags” of cocaine may actually be a fairly small amount. I don’t know what the smallest unit it is sold in. It is, however, far more likely to be possesion with intent to deliver than a means of rationing his own consumption.

  18. ragnarok says:

    “Thus there was no reason for them to support this drug dealer, because it did not benefit their members. Yet they still did it. In reality you are excusing their behavior by insinuating that because unions are formed to support its members, it makes sense for unions to act irrationally. It does not.”

    The union leader who chose not to defend this drug dealer would be accused, during the next election, of selling out a member. This is a potent charge, one he’d rather not face, even if he has to endure some criticism from outside.

  19. SuperSub says:

    And the union leader should have the [email protected] to say that yes, there are people who shouldn’t be allowed to teach, and this guy was one of them.

  20. ragnarok says:

    Surely you jest, SuperSub! Does the drug dealer have a pulse? Then he’s qualified to be a proud union brother.

  21. SuperSub says:

    Ragnarok
    There’s the rub… being qualified for the union (having a pulse AND money to pay dues…well, forget the pulse part, I’m sure they’ve had deceased members on their rolls when it comes time to getting out the vote)
    Anyway, being qualified for the union doesn’t make one qualified to teach, and all too often the teachers’ union forgets that in it’s desire to keep as many members as possible.
    Question – Are teachers required to be part of a union in all states? Would it be possible for teachers in a district to establish a separate union amongst themselves and forget the state/national ones?

  22. SuperSub wrote:

    Anyway, being qualified for the union doesn’t make one qualified to teach,

    But that’s a view that union officials like to foster – that being a member indicates competence. That’s to help obscure the nature of unions since self-interest is a trait that’s not a comfortable fit with what parents would prefer to see as a noble calling, dedicated to the elevation of their children out of ignorance.

    Question – Are teachers required to be part of a union in all states?

    Some states have what’s called “right to work” laws which explicitely makes union membership voluntary. In closed-shop states membership is mandatory. Given that the vast bulk of K-12 teaching positions are government jobs I’m not sure of the effect of “right to work” laws.

    Would it be possible for teachers in a district to establish a separate union amongst themselves and forget the state/national ones?

    According to the Education Intelligence Agency, there’re always fights going on about affiliate with national unions, dissaffiliation from national unions and establishment of independent, local unions.

    From my experience with union politics, the education business seems to generate an unusual degree of turmoil in union ranks. But that’s not a feeling I’d defend aggresively.

  23. SuperSub says:

    Thanks Allen
    In another year I’ll be entering the workforce in NY and want to know what my options are considering the unions. I understand and agree with the concept of contracts and group negotiation, but the idea of national organizationa makes me hesitant about unions.

  24. Well, as long as we keep in mind that the teacher’s unions have the children’s best interests first and foremost, you know, like they always say in their advertising or when speaking from a DNC platform.

  25. “Ten “bags” of cocaine may actually be a fairly small amount. I don’t know what the smallest unit it is sold in.”

    That also depends on whether you’re talking bags of powder or of crack rocks. Nonetheless, typically “a bag” = moderately full sandwich bag sizes: not a huge amount, but not nothing either.

    “It is, however, far more likely to be possesion with intent to deliver than a means of rationing his own consumption.”

    Well, duh. 😉 War story from my summer with the LA DA’s office: prosecutor asks the cop on the stand, “how many rocks of crack did you find”

    “Oh, we found 318 of them.”

    “And, given the expertise you previously tesified to, would you say that’s more than enough for personal use?”