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February 17, 2012

Tenure by estoppel

Tenure by estoppel

Andrews v Board of Educ. of the City School Dist. of the City of New York, 2012 NY Slip Op 00845, Appellate Division, First Department

Education Law §§2573(1)(a) and 3012(2) requires that a probationary employee whose employment will not be continued be given the 60-day written notice that he or she was not recommended for tenure.

Although Dana Andrews was not given the required written notice and claimed to have taught for one day after the expiration of her probationary term, the Appellate Division ruled that Andrews had not acquired tenure by estoppel.

The court said that the record shows that the New York City Department of Education [DOE] “did not, ‘with full knowledge and consent,’ permit her to continue to teach after her probationary term expired.” According to the decision, it was undisputed that Andrews was informed in May 2009 that her employment would be discontinued, “and when she reported for duty on September 8, 2009, she was told immediately that she had been terminated, and was given no further assignments.”

Explaining that Andrews was not paid for working on September 8, 2009 and the DOE’s actions "speak loudly against any supposition that [DOE] meant to perpetuate [Andrews's] employment" the Appellate Division affirmed Supreme Court’s denial of her petition seeking a court order declaring that she had attained tenure by estoppel.

Tenure by estoppel "results when a school board fails to take the action required by law to grant or deny tenure and, with full knowledge and consent, permits a teacher to continue to teach beyond the expiration of the probationary term," [Lindsey v Board of Education of Mt. Morris Central School District, 72 AD2d 18].

However, in Tucker v Board of Education, 189 AD2d 704, the Appellate Division held that Tucker was entitled to pay corresponding to the number of days for which she was not provided the statutory 60 days of notice.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division’s determination [see 82 N.Y.2d 274]. The court noted that while the law does not specially provide for a remedy in the event the notice requirement is not met, the courts and the Commissioner of Education have consistently held that in cases involving intentional delay or as a result of oversight, teachers are to be awarded one day of pay for each day that the notice was late.

The Court of Appeals explained that the purpose of the statute's 60-day notice requirement is to afford probationary teachers a reasonable period of time, before the end of their probationary period, to make plans for the upcoming school year and is a rule founded on reasons of practicality and fairness to probationary teachers. It said that there was nothing in the statute or its legislative history indicating that there should be an exception to law's broader purpose of providing probationary teachers with minimal notice of tenure denials to enable them to seek other employment.

The Andrews decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_00845.htm

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