The city spent nearly $25 million last year paying teachers who were banned from permanent classroom gigs because of alleged misconduct or incompetence, new Education Department figures show.
The teachers made up roughly a third of the 822 city educators assigned to the DOE’s “Absent Teacher Reserve,’’ according to the statistics, which offered the first detailed breakdown of the controversial program.
Teachers in the ATR rake in their full salaries — an average of $94,000 — without working permanent gigs for various reasons.
About 263 teachers had misconduct or incompetence issues, according to the figures released Friday, while another 246 were phased out because of budget cuts and 312 worked at schools that closed.
Overall, Chalkbeat reported last month that the program cost a total of $151 million.
Critics blasted the program, saying it protects bad teachers at the expense of taxpayers.
“This money could pay for programs that actually help New York City’s children. But unfortunately Mayor de Blasio is more concerned with the UFT’s priorities than he is with student achievement,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools.
A full quarter of the ATR pool have been there for at least six years, and the average tenure of all 822 was 18 years, the numbers showed.
The DOE has touted a gradual decrease in the ATR, which has been a thorny political dilemma since its establishment in 2005.
Currently, those in the ATR are assigned to temporary shifts in various schools, normally for one-month periods.
Critics point to the pricey pool as proof that terminating instructors is too difficult because of the teacher-union’s power.
But others counter that most ATR teachers were not out-and-out fired for misconduct and deserved another shot inside a classroom if eventually cleared.
“A principal can get rid of a teacher because of a personal vendetta that has nothing to do with their performance,” a current ATR teacher told The Post.
“A lot of us are older teachers who just cost too much, and we get let go because of it. They want to tar us all, and it’s just not the reality of the situation.”
In a controversial move to thin the ATR’s rolls this year, the DOE will compel principals to hire them for some vacancies that persist into October.
If they achieve a minimum ranking after a certain period, they will be hired permanently.
Detractors argue that tainted teachers will be forced upon…