December 27, 2013

Procedures followed in Educator’s probationary evaluations found to have undermined “the integrity and fairness of the entire review process”

Procedures followed in Educator’s probationary evaluations found to have undermined “the integrity and fairness of the entire review process”
2013 NY Slip Op 07275, Appellate Division, First Department

The New York City Department of Education [DOE] terminated a probationary teacher’s [Educator] employment. Educator challenged her termination during her probationary period and her unsatisfactory [U-rating] evaluation as a probationary employee.

Supreme Court denied Educator’s Article 78 petition seeking to annul DOE’s decision to terminate Educator’s probationary employment and affirmed Educator’s U-rating. The Appellate Division modified the Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, granting Educator’s petition to the extent of annulling the U-rating.

The Appellate Division indicated that Educator’s Article 78 petition appealing DOE’s termination of her probationary employment was filed “well after the expiration of the four-month statute of limitations period.”

In contrast, the court found that Educator’s appeal of her U-rating was timely.

Considering the merits of Educator’s appeal of her U-rating, the Appellate Division noted that Educator had invoked DOE's administrative procedures to appeal the U-rating and the Chancellor's Committee held a hearing and sustain Educator's appeal and recommended that the U-rating be reversed.

DOE, however, did not issue a final decision for more than year, whereby its final determination affirmed the U-rating and in doing so, DOE declined to adopt the recommendation of the Chancellor's Committee to reverse Educator’s U-rating.

Under the circumstances presented, said the court, “we find that the U-rating should be annulled.” The court explained that the record showed that upon timely receipt of her initial written report, Educator implemented its recommendations, and the deficiency set out there in was not noted in the subsequent formal observations.

The decision then reports that Educator’s principal failed to provide Educator with the written evaluation of Educator’s next formal observation for more than three months, and it was given to Educator at the end of the school year when there was little time to implement the multiple suggestions it set out.

Educator’s next formal observation came only nine days after her receiving the report of the previous observation and, said the court, “not surprisingly, the report indicated that she had not implemented the suggestions” set out in the previous report.

The Appellate Division’s conclusion: “In view of the foregoing, we find that the deficiencies in the rating of [Educator] were not merely technical, but undermined the integrity and fairness of the entire review process” and sustained Educators’ appeal of her U-rating.

The decision is posted on the Internet at: