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Union files grievances over Regents scoring conditions

New York Teacher
Teachers scoring Regents exams were forced to sit in these “plastic party chairs” for hours last January and June. The chairs were so uncomfortable that teachers were driven to bring cushions from home.

The UFT has filed two grievances against the city Department of Education on behalf of more than a dozen teachers over substandard seating provided to them in January and again in June for grading Regents exams at distributive scoring sites.

“The chairs they used are basically chairs that you’d see in an outdoor wedding — they’re very uncomfortable,” said Mark Heilbrunn, a teacher at the Preparatory Academy for Writers in Springfield Gardens, Queens, who is one of more than 100 high school teachers who scored Regents exams at a testing site at PS 233 in Forest Hills, Queens. “I was there for 10 hours sitting in those chairs.”

The chairs each consist of a simple metal frame with a thin strip of plastic for the seat and another on the back and were ordered specifically for teachers to use during scoring sessions throughout the city.

“No administrator would be expected to sit in plastic party chairs for the entire work day,” said UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds. “The DOE should not ask our members to sit in these chairs during the distributive scoring period.”

Heilbrunn, who is named in one of the grievances, said the chairs were so uncomfortable that teachers were driven to bring cushions or even their own chairs from home. One teacher, who had recently had back surgery, borrowed an office chair from elsewhere in the school because the seating provided “no back support whatsoever,” according to Heilbrunn. The chairs are designed with the backs angled away from the seats instead of upright, he said.

Heilbrunn also said the school provided inadequate bathroom facilities for the adults at the scoring sites.

“They did not let us use the staff bathrooms,” he said. “They reserved student bathrooms for us. These are elementary school bathrooms.”

NY Teacher