Laid-Off City Teachers Getting Paid for Doing Nothing, DOE Says

By DNAinfo Staff on September 3, 2010 11:20am

The city has nearly 1,800 teachers still on the payroll despite laying them off.
The city has nearly 1,800 teachers still on the payroll despite laying them off.
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Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

By Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — It's back-to-school time, but nearly 1,800 of the city's salaried teachers will not heed the call, WNYC and the Wall Street Journal reported.

These 1,779 educators, earning an average of $82,000 per year, comprise the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR), a pool of teachers who lost their jobs due, in many cases, to budget cuts and school shutdowns, according to the Journal and WNYC. Under an agreement between the teachers' union and the Department of Education, these teachers will remain on the city's payroll, serving as substitutes and, ostensibly, searching for full-time work.

A majority of reserve pool teachers, however, appear to have made no such effort, the DOE told the news sources. Only 41 percent of those swimming in the ATR pool have bothered to apply for the 1,200 available jobs in the DOE's recruitment system or attend one of their job fairs, the department told the Journal.

New York is the only city that continues to pay teachers after they've been laid-off, regardless of performance, for an unlimited period of time, and it does so at a cost of $100 million per year, the paper noted.

Still, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew insists that the teachers are not to blame for the situation, pointing out that schools Chancellor Joel Klein could place the ATR teachers into the vacant full-time positions, the Journal reported.

"The fact that he has chosen not to do so indicates that he prefers to have the issue to complain about rather than to resolve the problem," Mulgrew said in a statement, according to the Journal.

Contract negotiations between the DOE and the UFT are scheduled for the fall, the paper said.