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April 5, 2011

Considering “mitigating factors” in setting a disciplinary penalty

Considering “mitigating factors” in setting a disciplinary penalty
Matter of Senior v Board of Education of Byram Hills Cent. School Dist., 37 AD3d 610,

The Board of Education of the Byram Hills Central School District adopted the findings of a disciplinary hearing officer that concluded that Fenton Senior was guilty of the charges of misconduct filed against him. The charge alleged that Senior was involved in an altercation with a co-worker. The penalty imposed by the Board: termination of Senior’s employment with the School District.

The Appellate Division, after affirming the finding that Senior was guilty of the charges filed against him, annulled the penalty imposed: termination. The court said that “the penalty of termination imposed was so disproportionate to the petitioner's conduct as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness,” citing Matter of Pell v Board of Education, 34 NY2d 222.

The court then remanded the case to the School Board “for the imposition of an appropriate penalty less severe than the termination of [Senior’s] employment.”

The reason given by the Appellate Division for remanding the case for the purpose of imposing a lesser penalty: The Board “failed to give adequate consideration to certain mitigating factors.”

The “mitigating factors” listed by the court: Strong’s four-year employment record was unblemished, and he performed good deeds in the community.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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