Tenure by estoppel
2013 NY Slip Op 04006, Appellate Division, Second Department
Tenure by estoppel results "when a school board accepts the continued services of a teacher or administrator, but fails to take the action required by law to either grant or deny tenure prior to the expiration of the teacher's probationary term."
When a probationary teacher was denied tenure prior to the end of his probationary period, he claimed that he had attained tenure by estoppel.
According to the decision, the Board of Education had employed the teacher [Educator] as a per diem substitute teacher from September through the following June. Upon Educator’s completion of that academic year he appointed as full time teacher subject to the satisfactory completion of a two-year probationary period commencing July 1, 2008 through to June 30, 2010. The decision notes that Educator was entitled to a “one-year credit” toward the statutory three-year probationary period based on his prior tenure service in another district as provided by Education Law §3012[a].
What was ultimately to prove critical to the resolution of Educator’s claim that he had attained tenure by estoppel was a revised “letter of intent” he had signed that memorialized his probationary appointment and which specified that he would become eligible for tenure on July 1, 2010.
In May 2010, the superintendent of schools advised Educator that would be recommend the termination of his probationary appointment and on June 23, 2010 the Board voted to terminate Educator’s employment effective June 25, 2010.
Educator challenged the Board’s action and filed an Article 78 seeking a court order directing his reinstatement to his former contending that the Board did not have the authority to summarily terminate his employment because he had acquired tenure by estoppel.
Supreme Court denied Educator’s petition.
The Appellate Division sustained the Supreme Court’s decision, explaining that Educator had failed to demonstrate that the Board unduly delayed his formal appointment to his position or that he had otherwise acquired tenure by operation of law.
The court said that it was undisputed that Educator signed a revised letter of intent. This letter was held to have superseded all prior agreements and specified that Educator would become eligible for tenure on July 1, 2010.
Educator, however, had already discharged from his employment prior to that date.
Accordingly, ruled the Appellate Division, the Supreme Court properly denied Educator’s petition and dismissed the proceeding.
The decision is posted on the Internet at:http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_04006.htm