December 06, 2010

An administrative agency must follow the rules and regulations applicable to it in making its final administrative decision

An administrative agency must follow the rules and regulations applicable to it in making its final administrative decision
Matter of Hasberry v New York City Dept. of Educ., 2010 NY Slip Op 08792, decided on November 30, 2010, Appellate Division, First Department

The Department of Education (DOE) rejected applications for certification as New York City school bus drivers or bus escorts filed by a number of individuals on the basis of “criminal convictions that purportedly rendered them unsuitable to perform the duties associated with the transportation of school age children.”

While Supreme Court dismissed the petitions challenging this action, the Appellate Division reinstated the petitions with respect to DOE and remitted the matter to DOE for further proceedings.

Although the applicants were all denied certification on the basis of criminal convictions, the Appellate Division noted that the New York City Chancellor's Regulation C-105 provides that "If, prior to the conclusion of any background investigation, information of a derogatory nature is obtained which may result in denying the application for license, certification or employment, an applicant will be given an opportunity to review such information with the [Office of Personnel Investigation] and to include in the investigatory file, any written statements or documents which refute or explain such information."

In this instance, said the court, DOE did not provide the applicants with such an opportunity prior to making its determinations.

Conceding DOE’s concerns and “the need to protect the safety of children to be transported,” the Appellate Division said that DOE is bound by its own rules and regulations, including its procedural rules. Here the applicants were not given an opportunity to review the information that DOE relied upon in making its determination prior to its making its decision.

The court directed DOE to provide the applicants with an opportunity to review the information upon which DOE's determinations were based and to submit such statements and documents they wish in explanation or rebuttal of such information as required by Chancellor’s Regulation C-105.

The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_08792.htm
NYPPL

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