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Friday, May 10, 2013

Educator disciplined after posting comments on an Internet social media website


Educator disciplined after posting comments on an Internet social media website

Supreme Court granted an educator’s petition to set aside the hearing officer's determination that led to the termination of her employment with the New York City Department of Education following a disciplinary hearing “to the extent of remanding the matter for the imposition of a lesser penalty.” The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

According to the decision, the educator had posted comments on a social media website on the Internet alluding to a tragedy involving an unknown student at a different school. Although the court said that the comments “were clearly inappropriate,” it explained that the educator’s purpose was to “vent her frustration only to her online friends after a difficult day with her own students.”

Initially the educator denied the incident but she subsequently admitted to making the comments at the disciplinary hearing. She also acknowledged that the comments were inappropriate and offensive and repeatedly expressed remorse at having posted them.

The Hearing Officer found that the educator had engaged in a plan with her friend to mislead investigators right after the allegations surfaced. However, the Appellate Division said that Supreme Court “reasonably concluded that the educator’s actions were taken out of fear of losing her livelihood rather than as part of a premeditated plan.”

Under the circumstances, and in consideration of the educator’s not having ever before been the subject of a disciplinary action during her 15-year career and her avowing that she would never engage in a similar act again, the Appellate Division agreed with the Supreme Court’s finding that the penalty of termination was “shocking to one's sense of fairness.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_03272.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/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances 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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