Wednesday, August 12, 2015

An appeal to the Commissioner of Education is not the proper forum to adjudicate issues of constitutional law or the constitutionality of a statute or regulation


An appeal to the Commissioner of Education is not the proper forum to adjudicate issues of constitutional law or the constitutionality of a statute or regulation
Appeal of N.C. on behalf of her son, C.C., Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision #16,805

Among the issues raised in an appeal challenging the decision of the New York City Board of Education [NYC DOE] that a student, C.C., was not entitled to an exemption from the immunization requirements of Public Health Law was N.C.’s allegation that her constitutional rights were violated. N.C. further alleged that “the process by which NYC DOE processed her religious exemption application [was] fraudulent and violated her right to due process.”

The Commissioner said that “an appeal to the Commissioner is not the proper forum to adjudicate novel issues of constitutional law or to challenge the constitutionality of a statute or regulation,” explaining that “[a] novel claim of constitutional dimension should properly be presented to a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Accordingly, the Commissioner declined to consider “such constitutional claims” but ultimately sustained N.C.’s appeal for other reasons.

Based on the record, the Commissioner concluded that the weight of the evidence supported the N.C.’s contentions that her opposition to the vaccine stems from sincerely held religious beliefs and “produced unrebutted evidence of a linkage to the only vaccine at issue.”

The Commissioner also found that NYC DOE failed to adequately explain its rejection of otherwise convincing evidence and admonished NYC DOE “to provide parents with appropriate written communications articulating the specific reasons for the denial of religious exemptions in accordance with the [Department of Education’s] guidance,” which guidance states that “a decision to deny a request for a religious exemption must be in writing” and “the written communication must address the specific reasons for the denial; merely stating that the request does not demonstrate a sincerely held religious belief is not sufficient articulation.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

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Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions 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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