Thursday, June 09, 2011

Appellate Division holds that Commissioner of Education has primary jurisdiction to decide tenure area matters

Appellate Division holds that Commissioner of Education has initial jurisdiction to decide tenure area matters
Matter of Moraitis v Board of Educ. Deer Park Union Free School Dist., 2011 NY Slip Op 04254, Appellate Division, Second Department

Deep Park granted Regina Moraitis tenure in the position of "computer teacher," effective August 31, 2003. On January 16, 2009, her position as "computer teacher" was abolished.  

Moraitis filed a proceeding pursuant to CPLR Article 78 seeking a court order compelling Deer Park to reinstate her as a full-time teacher in an accepted tenure area. Supreme Court granted Moraitis’ petition directing Deer Park to “reclassify” Moraitis into an accepted tenure area without loss of tenure time, directed her reinstatement as a full-time teacher, and directed the reinstatement of her benefits from the date of dismissal, with damages in the nature of lost salary and insurance payments.

Deer Park appealed and the Appellate Division vacated the lower court’s ruling.*

The Appellate Division, agreeing with Deer Park’s contention that the proceeding should have been dismissed on the ground that the Commissioner of Education had primary jurisdiction** over the dispute, explained: “It is within the unique knowledge and expertise of the Commissioner of Education to determine the factual issues of whether the [Moraitis] has tenure in an accepted tenure area, and whether her former position, and any new position which she may seek, are similar in nature.


* The Appellate Division, in considering a procedural defense, noted that “Under the facts of this case, a notice of claim pursuant to Education Law §3813(1) was not required.”

** "The doctrine of primary jurisdiction,” -- where the courts and an administrative agency have concurrent jurisdiction and the dispute involves issues beyond the conventional experience of judges . . . "the court will stay its hand until the agency has applied its expertise to the salient questions" [see Flacke v Onondaga Landfill Sys., 69 NY2d 355].

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_04254.htm

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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