The city announced Thursday that the Department of Education has come to an agreement with the teacher's union to close the so-called rubber rooms.
Teachers being investigated for misconduct will no longer go to reassignment centers, where they receive full benefits and salary.
The teachers are required to spend all days in these "rubber rooms," but are not allowed to do any work.
"Believe it or not, we're still paying teachers who have been in the rubber room for seven years and counting," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "And not only do they collect full pay, but their pensions continue to grow for every year they are in the rubber room. It's an absurd and expensive abuse of tenure, especially at a time when the steep budget cuts that might force us to lay off good teachers, steer us in the fact."
"I have had numerous meetings with the mayor. We sit and have lunch. And I won't tell you where. And we've been talking about this, saying, 'we need to get this fixed,'" said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. "We said, 'This isn't working. It really isn't working for anyone.' And we want a faster, fairer process."
Under the new agreement, the teachers will now be assigned to clerical duty, either in central offices or schools.There will also be more arbitrators hired to expedite the hearing process. Under the current system, it can take teachers years to either be cleared of charges or officially disciplined.
The agreement will call for all teachers accused of misconduct to be formally charged within 60 days or they will return to the classroom. The DOE will have only 10 days to file charges against a teacher accused of incompetence.
Some teachers at a Staten Island rubber room told NY1 that they blamed the Bloomberg administration for problems with the system.
"They put you here for no reason at all," said one teacher. "It's a way of circumventing tenure that is due process in the system."
Rubber rooms will be closed by September. The city has also agreed to clear up backlogged cases by the end of the year.
Last year, the city spent about $30 million paying the salaries of 650 teachers in the reassignment centers.