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Thursday, July 28, 2011

A petition seeking the removal a school official requires specific wording


A petition seeking the removal a school official requires specific wording
Decisions of the Commissioner of Education #14,608

Michelle Knapp filed an appeal with the Commissioner of Education seeking to have the Commissioner remove Freeport Union Free School District Board Member Sunday F. Coward. Her appeal was rejected because she failed to comply with the procedural requirements set out in the Commissioner's Regulations.

Knapp charged that Coward had “violated board policies” and had “threatened her and made racist remarks to her following a board meeting on March 28, 2001.” The Commissioner said that he was compelled to dismiss Knapp's appeal because she had failed to serve Coward with a copy of her petition. The decision notes that with respect to "an application to remove a school officer pursuant to Education Law Section 306, Commissioner's Regulation Section 277.1(b) requires that the notice of petition must specifically advise the [school official] that the application is being made for [his or her] removal from office."

It appears that Knapp used the notice prescribed by Section 275.11(a) for appeals brought pursuant to Education Law Section 310. The Commissioner said that “[a] notice of petition which fails to contain the language required by the Commissioner's Regulations is fatally defective and does not secure jurisdiction over the intended respondent,” citing Appeal of Khalid, Commissioner's decision 14,570).

The reason for this, explained the Commissioner, is that it is “the notice of petition that alerts a party to the fact that he or she is the subject of removal proceedings, and the failure to comply with Section 277.1(b) necessarily results in a jurisdictional failure and requires dismissal” of the appeal.

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