leonard goldberg

renewed questions

New York

Once at odds, union and charter school team up to fight closure

United Federation of Teachers Vice President Leo Casey at a public hearing about Opportunity Charter School's charter renewal For months, Opportunity Charter School CEO Leonard Goldberg fought to keep the teachers union out of his school. On Monday, he welcomed them into his auditorium with open arms. At a public hearing to discuss the school's future Monday evening, United Federation of Teachers Vice President Leo Casey and other UFT officials joined Goldberg and his newly unionized staff to push back against the possibility that Opportunity could be closed. The school's charter is up for renewal this year and the city has cited it as one of six charter schools whose performance is so weak that they could lose their right to operate. The partnership between the school's leadership and the union would have seemed inconceivable just a couple of months ago when the two sides were locked in a legal battle over whether the school's teachers should be able to join the UFT. Union officials and teachers accused Goldberg of retaliation after he fired more than a dozen teachers shortly after they voted to unionize at the school in March. Goldberg refused to acknowledge the teachers' union vote, prompting a hearing with the state's Public Employee Relations Board, which eventually ruled that the teachers could use the UFT as their bargaining agent. The union has also filed a grievance over the firings. All of that was apparently water under the bridge during Monday night's meeting, which two officials from the DOE's charter schools office attended. Goldberg said he was happy to have the union's support and UFT officials said the school should stay open.
New York

After union bid, fired charter school teachers allege retaliation

Earlier this year, a small group of determined teachers at Opportunity Charter School marched into Leonard Goldberg’s office and confronted their boss. They carried a letter that detailed their complaints with Goldberg's response to their recent bid to unionize. Not only had Goldberg refused to recognize the staff's vote to join the United Federation of Teachers, they said, he had begun waging an anti-union email campaign. Goldberg, the school’s CEO, declined the letter and ordered them to leave, according to a teacher present at the meeting. “He was screaming and yelling,” said the teacher. “He said ‘You’re not welcome in here,’ and threw us out of the office.” By the end of the school year, that teacher and 13 of her pro-union colleagues - as well as one who opposed the union - were notified that their contracts would not be renewed. Five, including the teacher who described the Goldberg meeting, were members of the organizing committee that steered the union vote. The school says it is a coincidence, but former teachers and union organizers believe the firings were calculated retaliation. They say Goldberg’s behavior in his office and his emails are just examples of his antagonistic attitude toward his teachers' attempt to unionize. "Opportunity Charter School has taken a negative stance since day one of the staff forming a union,” said UFT charter school representative Miles Trager, who met personally with Goldberg. “The firings further confirm their intention of quelling teacher voice at the school. "