Yonkers – Mayor Spano announced Friday, that he is calling on the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees to consider suspending any and all contract negotiations with the Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT). His request comes after the recent release of a hidden-camera video showing Yonkers teacher union leaders advising an undercover reporter, who is impersonating a teacher, on how to avoid disciplinary charges for allegedly hitting a child at an unnamed school. As a result of the video’s content, the Yonkers Inspector General (IG) has agreed to investigate the YFT leadership and its practices.
“I found this video to be disturbing and upsetting on many levels,” said Mayor Spano. “As a result, I am urging our Board of Education Trustees to cease and assist all contract negotiations with the YFT until the IG has fully investigated the matter, which I believe exhibits the intent to cover up a crime.”
The 17-minute video shot by Project Veritas, a nonprofit that investigates corruption, has two of its representatives — impersonating a teacher and a friend — seeking advice from YFT Vice President Paul Diamond and President Patricia Puleo on how to avoid disciplinary charges.
Mayor Spano reminded teachers that they are mandated reporters should they witness or suspect child abuse, stating, “I believe this video begs the question whether its standard operating procedure for Ms. Puleo and Mr. Diamond to cover up the abuse of a minority child or any child, for that matter. At no point in their discussion in the video do they mention contacting the authorities of this potential abuse. It illustrates a blatant disregard for the safety and well-being of our students and their sworn legal obligations as mandated reporters.”
In addition to the potential child abuse cover up, Mayor Spano also is asking the Inspector General to look into past YFT sick time and family medical leave claims and if the union leadership regularly promotes the abuse of their benefits, which are funded by Yonkers taxpayers.
“I believe 99% of our teachers act in good faith and work for the betterment of our students, but I wonder how many times similar actions may have led some teachers to cheat the system and cost Yonkers taxpayers millions of dollars.”
The Yonkers Federation of Teachers union contract expired June 30, 2014.