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Can Cleveland Roberts III be Trusted to Lead the United Teachers of Dade?

RobertsEF

Cleveland Roberts III (left) with Emmanuel Fleurantin (foreground right).

Mr. Cleveland Roberts III has declared his candidacy for the presidency of the United Teachers of Dade as the leader of the Empower U caucus.

Upon contemplating the facts and all available evidence of Adobegate, a fair-minded person may conclude that Cleveland Roberts III is not fit to hold elective office within the United Teachers of Dade given his arguably questionable actions while steward at Miami Norland Senior High School in relation to having fellow steward and whistleblower Trevor Colestock displaced while proven test cheater and non-union member Brenda Muchnick returned to Norland in January 2014 with no outrage or objections from him.

How can one reasonably expect him to lead the United Teachers of Dade when he betrayed his own steward and lied about him in the process; one union member (Emmanuel Fleurantin) was fired while a non-union member (Brenda Muchnick) was given a meaningless 30 day suspension for the same crime; Mr. Colestock was, and still is, displaced for doing what was right; and Mr. Roberts remained completely silent?

If Mr. Roberts could not and would not defend his own members and steward at Miami Norland Senior High School, how can UTD members anywhere else depend on him to represent and/or defend them?

Could it also be that Mr. Roberts lied to the UTD membership at Norland about these events?

Mr. Roberts sent a letter to all the UTD members of Miami Norland SHS titled “Response to Trevor’s Blog” on September 10, 2013. Roberts in his letter wrote, “Due to the enormous amount of attention that this Testing incident has drawn to the school from the OIG, The Miami Herald, WSVN and Watchdogwire.com; and because I am mentioned in the online blog I am compelled to make a statement to you.”

Roberts stated, “I understand my job as a teacher and UTD Building Steward. I am not an agent for the Office of the Inspector General or the Office of the Auditor General. I do not investigate cases against my colleagues, I do not gather evidence against my co- workers, nor do I recommend that they not receive bonuses that are due to them for their hard work.  I am not a “Watchdog”. That is not my job!! I report incidents!”

Interestingly, contrary to evidence (emails sent between Mr. Roberts and Mr. Colestock and Mr. Gant’s Miami-Dade OIG Interview), Mr. Roberts writes, “I do not know the Inspector General nor do I call the Inspector General.  I do not encourage individuals to report to the Inspector General.  I also would not encourage anyone to go to the Inspector General’s office after they had already mailed the documents there before they had spoken to me.  (According to the article on Watchdog Wire).”

A month before Mr. Roberts made these statements to the Norland faculty and staff, Mr. Roberts emailed Mr. Colestock and Miami-Dade OIG Special Agents Lopez and Knigge confirming that he encouraged both Mr. Halligan and Mr. Gant to cooperate with the Miami-Dade OIG and come forward.

When Mr. Colestock replied back to the Norland faculty and staff rebutting Mr. Roberts’ falsehoods and offered his email as proof, Mr. Roberts emailed Mr. Colestock and the Miami-Dade OIG special agents back retracting his statement and calling it “a very serious lack of judgement on my part.”

Does Mr. Roberts consider doing the right thing, reporting test cheating, cooperating with law enforcement for the betterment of the school community and standing by a fellow union steward as a “very serious lack of judgement”?

Moreover, Mr. Gant in his interview with Miami-Dade OIG Special Agents Lopez and Knigge on May 17, 2012, told them that both Mr. Colestock and Mr. Roberts told him and Mr. Halligan to cooperate and come forward to the Miami-Dade OIG.

Caught in his lie by the OIG, Mr. Roberts decided to compound his error further at the faculty meeting later that day.

Confrontation with the facts usually shuts up falsehoods and befuddles one who lies.

As Mr. Colestock quashed the lie as the email attack did not work, Mr. Roberts had little options left at the end of this faculty meeting during the allotted ten minutes for union issues. Instead of having a JFK Profiles in Courage moment, which one would expect from the designated building steward who is also an athletic coach and pastor, in which he would have defended his role in exposing test cheating as required by state law and school board policies, he actually apologized for “letting people down,” as the situation “was not handled in-house and made the news,” and offered to resign from being a union steward.

According to this union leader, teachers are supposed to be quiet and cover it up; School Board Policies, state law, and Code of Ethics be damned!

Should a teacher engage in the cardinal sin of taking contractual and legal issues “outside of the building?” Teachers must lead by example, a good example. Like minded union members, can take the membership and the school out of this scandalous situation to a much better place. No one should be defending bad teachers!

This cheating scandal exposed a complete breakdown of institutional control as the principal and/or other school administrators did not rebut or refute the illegal actions and what was said at the faculty meeting, thereby being complicit in what was said and their actions. Cheating scandals make for a hostile working environment for those who desire compliance with the UTD contract and state laws.

Many faculty members refused to sign the petition seeking Mr. Colestock’s removal as steward for doing what was right. The petition was hand carried by a security monitor assigned to Mr. Roberts on school time. Twenty-nine members who associate with the “Adobegate” philosophy signed the petition. If these UTD members put as much effort into doing their jobs, Norland would be a much better school.

The petition went nowhere and related charges filed with UTD were dismissed.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Roberts filed an unfounded civil rights complaint against Mr. Colestock which was dismissed shortly thereafter.

For those members running with Mr. Roberts in the Empower U caucus, why would you associate yourself with such a person with such a record and reputation?

As a UTD member and voter, why would you vote for Mr. Roberts after reading this and knowing now what you did not know before you read this article and the evidence?

Knowledge is power. Read, research, and vote wisely.

We report, you decide.

SOURCES:

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/02/industry-exam-cheating-at-miami-norland-senior-high-school/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/13/school-librarian-attacked-for-exposing-fraud-in-miami-dade-schools/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/17/cheating-at-miami-norland-high-screw-up-and-cover-up/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/18/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-in-miami-dade-schools/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/11/18/civil-rights-complaint-librarian-racially-motivated/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/11/21/miami-dade-school-board-gives-teacher-cheated-slap-wrist/

https://drrichswier.com/2014/01/20/troubling-jurisprudence-in-miami-dade-a-tale-of-two-teachers/

https://drrichswier.com/2014/07/31/miami-fl-court-upholds-firing-teacher-cheated-accomplice-returned-classroom/

https://drrichswier.com/2015/04/03/florida-and-georgia-a-tale-of-test-cheating-scandals-in-two-states/

https://drrichswier.com/2015/09/09/do-black-lives-matter-in-miami-dade-county-public-schools/

Miami-Dade civil rights complaint against public school whistle-blower dismissed

Cleveland Roberts, III. For a larger view click on the image.

Those who blow the whistle and interrupt the status quo are either met with respect or hostility from others.  In the case of Cleveland “Cleve” Roberts III, the PBS Coach at Miami Norland Senior High School and Trevor Colestock, Library Media Specialist at Miami Norland SHS and a Watchdog Wire- Florida citizen journalist, the whistle-blowing resulted in a civil rights complaint being filed.

Following Colestock’s article on cheating at Norland, Roberts may have been faced with angry faculty and staff members pertaining to his role, along with Colestock’s, of telling Norland SHS teachers Mr. Gant and Mr. Halligan to come forward to the Auditor General of Florida and the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General. On May 11, 2012, Colestock, Gant, and Halligan went to the local Auditor General’s office in Doral and turned over evidence and gave statements about test cheating at Norland’s industrial arts program. Colestock appeared before two special agents of the Miami-Dade OIG on May 15, 2012, and Mr. Gant, and Mr. Halligan before them a few days later, to turn over evidence and give statements. Their efforts resulted in exposing Adobegate and led to the Final Miami-Dade OIG Report issued on August 26, 2013.

After speaking with officials from both agencies, Gant made plans to leave the school (he went to Ronald Reagan Senior High School) and Halligan resigned and retired (he became a full-time minister) because according to Colestock, “they were both afraid of reprisal.” Colestock stayed, managed his library media program, and enforced law and contract as a union steward at Miami Norland SHS until he faced reprisal in the form of “an illegal transfer on October 24, 2013.”

trevor colestock

Trevor Colestock, Media Specialist – Librarian.

Instead of emulating Colestock and exposing the cheating, Roberts may have given in “to fear and terror and proceeded to lie about his role and disparage me [Colestock] in the process via email and at a faculty meeting”, states Colestock. As proof Colestock notes that on September 10, 2013, Roberts sent a letter to all the United Teachers of Dade members at Norland SHS titled “Response to Trevor’s Blog“. Roberts in his letter writes, “Due to the enormous amount of attention that this Testing incident has drawn to the school from the OIG, The Miami Herald, WSVN and Watchdogwire.com;  and because I am mentioned in the online blog I am compelled to make a statement to you.”

Roberts states, “I understand my job as a teacher and UTD Building Steward. I am not an agent for the Office of the Inspector General or the Office of the Auditor General. I do not investigate cases against my colleagues, I do not gather evidence against my co- workers, nor do I recommend that they not receive bonuses that are due to them for their hard work.  I am not a “Watchdog.” That is not my job!! I report incidents!”

Colestock asks, “Does cheating constitute ‘hard work’ and deserve a ‘bonus’? Hear no fraud, see no waste and say nothing about abuses.”

Roberts then went on to directly attack Colestock. Roberts states, “I am deeply disturbed and disheartened to think that a staff member [Colestock] feels that our students are not intelligent enough to pass a test without cheating and that our teachers are not working hard enough in the classroom. Are we not entitled to our monetary bonuses because of an investigation?”

Colestock responded to the Roberts letter as follows:

“As for the allegation of me questioning our students’ intelligence, that is ridiculous. The investigation, and the articles, focus on instances of cheating and its impact on the scores, questioning performance and not intelligence.

We all know, as our students have demonstrated, that when our students study and apply themselves, they are capable of great things-the prime example being our increase in reading comprehension from 17% to 30% over the past two school years.

However, the level of productivity is a great disparity. The increase of passing students from 17 to 452 with scores 175-241 above the national average and completed in 8-22 minutes below the national average, coupled with cheat sheets and student testimony, tells anyone with common sense something is amiss. Moreover, when there are multiple records of unsatisfactory performance and there exists a passing score in 10-20 minutes, that is highly questionable. Put in context with reading levels and various EOC performance, this level of performance is unusual, especially given the presence of cheat sheets and student testimony.

This questions performance, not intelligence. The report and the evidence speaks for itself.”

In his letter, Colestock offered to provide a confirmation email from Roberts confirming his role in advising Gant and Halligan to come forward.

Later that day at the faculty meeting, instead of having a JFK Profiles in Courage moment, which one would expect from the designated building steward who is also an athletic coach and pastor, in which he would have defended his role in exposing test cheating as required by state law and school board policies, he actually apologized for “letting people down,” as the situation “was not handled in-house and made the news,” and offered to resign from being a union steward.

The harassment of Colestock was not finished as another union steward, Mr. Kebony King, crafted a petition seeking Colestock’s ouster as a union steward two days later, which garnered 31 signatures. Apparently some Norland union members, as well as nonunion teachers, took exception to what Colestock did by exposing cheating at Norland SHS, all within Florida state law and Miami-Dade school board policies. The real issue: the teacher’s federal and state financial incentives were in jeopardy due the test cheating at Norland.

On September 19, 2013, Roberts submitted a Civil Rights Compliance complaint against Mr. Colestock claiming that he was “cyber-bullied and cyber-harassed” by Mr. Colestock’s Watchdog Wire- Florida articles. However, on page 15 of the exhibit Roberts contradicts his statement from a month before due to pressure and being exposed. Roberts in his complaint attacks Colestock, Dr. Rich Swier, State Editor of WDW-FL and the Watchdog Wire- Florida website. Roberts checked the “Political Beliefs”, “Retaliation” and “Social and Family Background” boxes on the complaint form. However, Roberts’ attempts to accuse Trevor of politically and racially motivated harassment were squashed when the investigator assigned to review his complaint concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to prove those claims. Roberts subsequently withdrew his complaint.

Roberts should know, as a pastor and coach, that telling the truth about cheating is not cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment and defamatory in nature.

Unlike Roberts, Colestock gets it as he is fully knowledgeable of Florida contract and law and enforces it accordingly. Colestock understands that union stewards are equal to the principal and that good union stewards ensure that standard operating procedures, as they are equal to management and co-manage the school per the National Labor Relations Act and the Florida Constitution, are compliant with contract and state and federal laws for the well-being of the faculty and staff.

Colestock writes, “To union members in the Miami-Dade school district: As the United Teachers of Dade, by their silence and inaction, backed Mr. Roberts and Mr. King and stood idly by as they and the school district attacked me, an accomplished union steward who exposed test cheating and fraud, over the past two months, do you really expect UTD will protect and represent you in your time of need?   If UTD cannot and will not protect their stewards like me, who can and will they protect?”

Unlike Colestock, Roberts did not suffer adverse actions for his role, although a minor one, in exposing the test cheating at Norland SHS. Roberts complaint against Colestock may have been the basis for the Miami-Dade School District to act against Colestock and move him involuntarily to another school.  Colestock has paid the price for telling the truth. He lost his job, in contravention to state and federal law, for his rightful activities as a concerned citizen, an active and competent union steward and as a citizen journalist.

Colestock was the subject of an attempted transfer on September 16, 2013, which failed, and has been displaced from his job at Norland SHS since October 24, 2013. So exactly who has been harassed – Colestock or Roberts?

Reginald E. Lee, Principal, Miami Norland Senior High School

Colestock still remains displaced from Norland, where he is unable to enforce contract and state laws per his elected position as union steward. The district, as well as Norland SHS Principal, Mr. Reginald  E. Lee, and Roberts, is sending a message to their faculty and community. The adverse actions against Colestock effect those who may be willing to ensure compliance with law and union contract through oversight and quality control measures at Norland. Retaliation is the method to silence those who expose cheating.

“The District created this situation by never addressing the faculty, staff, and students following the release of the Miami-Dade OIG report on August 26, 2013, thereby creating a cone of silence,” states Colestock.

Following his articles on Watchdog Wire – Florida  regarding industry certification exam (Adobe PhotoshopDream Weaver) cheating by teachers as referenced in a Miami-Dade OIG report issued on August 26, 2012, the tepid response by the district administration, and the lack of any response by the Department of Education (all in the context of some quarter million dollars in monetary rewards to staff for the dramatic improvement in test scores), there has been a continuing/ongoing pattern of retaliation against him.

Colestock states, “I have not been critical of students per se, but only of dishonest teachers and dormant administrators, and because students did not share in the distribution of the approximate quarter million dollar award, it seems to be a fair inference that the student response (protests, threats) may likely have been instigated by adults (erstwhile colleagues) who felt criticized or targeted or monetarily threatened by my articles.”

“Because the cash awards for improvement have been distributed, because no colleagues or students have been brought to account, the consequences so far have been visited solely upon me – another involuntary transfer as of October 24, 2013.  The message to students and teachers is that the district is not backing Mr. Colestock and that he is fair game.  The message to the faculty and staff is to avoid emulating Mr. Colestock and what he has done in exposing wrongdoing,” notes Colestock.

The Miami-Dade school district, by their actions, wants teachers to be like Roberts and administrators to be like Principal Lee: keep quiet, look the other way on test cheating and fraud, disparage those who do expose it and go along, get along people. Is that what Miami-Dade public schools have come to?