Wednesday, July 2nd 2008, 8:38 PM
Teachers accused of misconduct will spend less time idling in "Rubber Rooms" on the taxpayer's dime under a deal hammered out between the teachers union and education officials.
To ease the backlog of about 700 accused teachers pulled from the classroom with full salary, the Education Department will expand the number of arbitrators by 40% and follow stricter timelines for investigating.
"It's going to allow us to get these cases heard more quickly," said Dan Weisberg, the Education Department's chief executive for labor policy. "It also means they'll be less of a burden for taxpayers."
A recent Daily News analysis found that taxpayers spend about $65 million a year on the salaries of teachers accused of misconduct ranging from lateness to corporal punishment and sex abuse.
Under the agreement, the arbitration panel will be boosted from 20 to 28 members, with 14 devoted strictly to cases of alleged incompetence. Also, charges against teachers would be put in writing, and disciplinary action would be taken against staff who make false allegations.
Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten praised the agreement, saying she hopes it will make reassignment centers more "humane.""We were focusing on fairness and timeliness because we know justice delayed is justice denied," she said.