The city has a secret weapon to rub out incompetent teachers — an eraser.
If a teacher who is deemed a dud agrees to quit or retire before a termination trial, the Department of Education will wipe out all of her “unsatisfactory” or U ratings and — voilà — change them to S for “satisfactory,” thus helping her land a job elsewhere.
In an e-mail obtained by The Post, a DOE lawyer offers the deal to a teacher with U ratings two years in a row, grounds for dismissal.
“The department will provide, upon request, a neutral letter documenting her employment with the DOE and will convert her U ratings to S ratings in the DOE computer system.”
‘TRADE’MARKS: The Department of Education has a little-known policy of upgrading an unsatisfactory teacher’s review if that teacher agrees to resign.
It adds, “Thus if she were to seek employment outside the DOE, her computer employment records would show only ‘satisfactory.’ ”
The teacher is accused of failing to carry out lessons, sloppy record keeping and poor classroom management, among other charges.
Former Chancellor Rudy Crew once called the shuffling of lousy principals from school to school “the dance of the lemons.”
Some educators share a disgust for a likewise dirty deed — the U whitewash.
“They’re making a mockery of the entire system,” a veteran teacher said. “If someone is found incompetent, it should go on their permanent record. The DOE should not be Monty Hall on ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ ”
Betty Rosa, a member of the state Board of Regents and a former Bronx superintendent, called the document doctoring “unethical . . . a lie.”
But a hearing officer, who recently oversaw many such deals for suspect teachers idling away in departmental “rubber rooms,” hailed the method.
“It saves time, it saves money, and it gets guaranteed results,” he told The Post. “It’s morally right, because New York kids will not have to suffer with a teacher who’s allegedly incompetent. She’s out. She’s gone.”
Future employers, he said, can probe a teacher’s past.
The debate comes as the DOE and the United Federation of Teachers wrangle over a new evaluation system to rate teachers from “highly effective” to “ineffective.”
If they don’t agree by Jan. 17, the city will forfeit $250 million in state funds, Gov. Cuomo has warned.
In the 2010-11 school year, the DOE charged 78 teachers with incompetence, it says. Hearing officers agreed to terminate 18 after long administrative trials. Other teachers kept their jobs with lesser penalties, such as paying a fine or taking a course
But 49 settled and resigned or retired, bringing the total booted to 67.
Last year, the DOE charged 88 teachers with incompetence. It won just 11 dismissal cases but tossed 39 teachers who quit in settlements.
Betsy Combier, a paralegal who helps defend teachers in discipline cases, blasted the backroom maneuvers.
“It says to teachers, ‘We didn’t mean it when we brought you up on charges. Let someone else worry about how bad or good you are. We just want you out,’” Combier said.
But educators grab the deal to avoid the risk of being found guilty, which becomes public record.
A teacher who recently quit in exchange for erasing her two U ratings was accused of weak instruction, a lack of lesson plans and a disorganized classroom.
“She’s looking for work right now — anywhere. She’s going on interviews,” Combier said.
The DOE did not answer repeated requests for comment.