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Name-dropping of students puts an author teacher on notice

A pair of Department of Education employees were separately warned this week for breaking city ethics laws, according to letters released today by an ethics board.

In one case, a special education teacher, Faith Walters, used names of 15 former students without permission in a book she published in 2011. The letter doesn’t name the book, but it appears to fit the description of a poetry book that sells on paperback for $15.99 on Amazon. The name of the author of the 67-page book is also Faith Walters and she describes herself as a New York City special education teacher.

In the book’s description, Walters said she was inspired by an experience she had when she first started teaching:

The memory of my first day of teaching will forever be in my mind of having an almost fatal experience of losing one of my eyes because of a flying chair that hit the wall just as I opened the classroom door of 15 students who appeared to be very angry and fearful.

“By publishing a book containing your students’ names, you disclosed confidential information” that violated the city charter, the letter says.

Walters wasn’t fined, in part because she told the board that her publisher has revised subsequent copies so that only the students’ initials are printed.

In the other case, a principal used one of her school aides as a personal driver to transport her son from his school to I.S. 340 (North Star Academy), where she worked, according to the board. The principal, Jean Williams, asked the aide to pick up her son on three occasions during the 2011-2012 school year.

“By using your position to as the Principal of North Star Academy to have your subordinate perform a purely personal  task on your behalf, you used your City position as a supervisor to obtain a personal benefit,” the letter said. Williams was not fined.

Aides are often used to fill several roles in a school, but their primary purpose is “to help the teachers get prepared to teach,” according to a job description on their union’s web site. They are also asked to monitor hallways and school yards during recess to “help keep schools safe for kids.”

Paid about $14 per hour, aides are among the lowest paid employees in a school. In 2011, the city laid off 438 aides — five percent of its workforce — to close a budget gap.

The letters are posted below.

COIB Public Warning Letter — Faith Walters by GothamSchools.org

COIB Public Warning Letter — Jean Williams