Bounced: Rubber rooms get axed


No longer will exiled teachers spend their days playing chess, surfing the Internet, sleeping, doing yoga or running side businesses while collecting upwards of $70,000 a year.

The city Thursday announced a deal with the United Federation of Teachers to finally dismantle “rubber rooms,” which had essentially become detention centers for educators awaiting disciplinary hearings on charges ranging from incompetence to sexual abuse.

Nearly 600 teachers now get their full salaries while languishing for months or years in the infamous rubber rooms, costing the city $30 million annually. Under the new agreement, most of those accused of misconduct or incompetence will be assigned administrative work at Department of Education offices or given non-classroom duties at their schools while their cases are pending.

“The rubber rooms were the result of a broken and protracted teacher discipline process,” Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said. “This deal goes a long way in improving the way the union and the department deal with teachers accused of and charged with wrongdoings.”

The deal expands the list of charges for which the DOE can suspend teachers without pay to include violent felony crimes. It also speeds up processing cases, increasing its arbitrators from 23 to 39. The department will have 10 days to file incompetence charges or 60 days to file misconduct charges.