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April 19, 2010
Hearing officer to determine the weight to be given to evidence offered in the course of disciplinary hearing
Matter of Board of Educ. of Byram Hills Cent. School Dist. v Carlson, 2010 NY Slip Op 03120, Decided on April 13, 2010, Appellate Division, Second Department
The Byram Hills Central School District served disciplinary charges upon Gregory E. Carlson pursuant to §3020-a of the Education Law. The hearing officer dismissed the charges that the School District had filed against Carlson.
Byram Hills filed a petition pursuant to Article 75 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules* seeking to vacate the hearing officer’s decision. The district contended that the hearing officer erred in refusing to give substantial weight to a tape recording and the documents that it had introduced into evidence in the course of Carlson's disciplinary hearing. Supreme Court affirmed the hearing officer’s decision.
The Appellate Division agreed with the lower court’s decision, noting that the district:
 had not demonstrate any basis for vacating the determination as provided set out in CPLR §7511** and
 the hearing officer’s determination had a rational basis and was supported by the record.
The court said that it was up to the hearing officer to determine what, if any, weight should be given to the evidence and a court should not substitute its judgment for that of a hearing officer, citing Altsheler v Board of Educ. of Great Neck Union Free School Dist., 62 NY2d 656.
* Although most challenges to a decision made by a quasi-judicial body are filed pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, Education Law §3020-a provides that appeals of a decision by a hearing officer shall be processed pursuant to Article 75 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
** Essentially an arbitration award may be vacated if the court finds corruption, fraud or misconduct in procuring the award; than an arbitrator appointed as a neutral was not impartial, [except where the award was by confession]; or that the arbitrator failed to follow the procedures set out in Article 75 [unless the party applying to vacate the award continued with the arbitration with notice of the defect and without objection]. In addition, a court may vacate an arbitration award if it finds that it is violative of a strong public policy, is irrational, or clearly exceeded a specific limitation on an arbitrator's power.
N.B. Not withstanding the statute of limitations set out in Article 75 for filing a timely motion to vacate an arbitration award, the Education Law §3020-a allows only 10 days after receiving the hearing officer’s decision to file an appeal challenging the hearing officer’s determination.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_03120.htm
If you are interested in learning more about disciplinary actions involving public employees in New York State and its political subdivisions, please click here: http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/2010/03/discipline-book.html
Public Personnel Law E-books
The Discipline Book - A concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public employees in
A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - A 442-page e-book focusing on determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service in instances where the employee has been found guilty of misconduct or incompetence. Now available in two formats - as a large, paperback print edition and as an e-book. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/7401.html
The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual - A 645 page e-book reviewing the relevant laws, rules and regulations, and selected court and administrative decisions. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5216.html
General Municipal Law §§207-a and 207-c - Disability Leave for fire, police and other public sector personnel - A 1098 page e-book focusing on administering General Municipal Law Sections 207-a/207-c and providing benefits thereunder. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/3916.html
SELECTED REFERENCES and BLOGS
- A Handbook addressing disciplining public employees
- A Handbook focusing on imposing reasonable disciplinary penalties
- A Handbook focusing on layoff and reinstatement
- A Handbook on Disability Benefits for public employees
- A sample personnel handbook
- Blogging Civil Rights Law
- Blogging Constitutional Law
- Blogging Disability Law
- Blogging Education Law
- Blogging Human Rights Law
- Blogging Legal Information
- Blogging Military Law
- Blogging public libraries
- Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions
- COVID-19 - New York State maps and data
- Delaware Employment Law Blog
- Gotham schools newsroom - A NYC school news blog
- New York City ERS blog - by John Murphy
- NY Municipalities - NYMUNIBLOG
- St. Lawrence County Civil Service Web Site
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