Commissioner of Education has primary jurisdiction to consider allegations that a school district failed to implement adequate policies and procedures
SC v Monroe Woodbury Cent. Sch. Dist., 2016 NY Slip Op 00669, Appellate Division, Second Department
In this action to recover damages for negligence, SC alleged that the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District failed to adopt and implement adequate policies and procedures to prevent bullying and harassment.
The Appellate Division sustained Supreme Court dismissal of the action, explaining the matter “should be addressed, in the first instance, to the Commissioner of Education.”
Contrary to SC’s contention, Supreme Court correctly determined that SC failed to exhaust available administrative remedies before commencing its action. Further, said the Appellate Division, SC also failed to establish the applicability of any exception to the exhaustion of administrative remedies doctrine.
One exception to the exhaustion doctrine: futility. For example, as a general rule, an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a grievance procedure must exhaust the administrative remedies available prior to seeking judicial remedies. However where the individual can prove that the union breached its duty of fair representation in the handling of the employee's grievance he or she would be excused from exhausting his or her administrative remedy.
In Civil Service Bar Assn., Local 237, Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters v City of New York, 64 NY2d 188, the court opined that a union’s breach of its duty of fair representation occurs only when a union's conduct toward a member of the collective bargaining unit is arbitrary, discriminatory, or its decision was made in bad faith.
In Garvin v. NYS Pub. Employment Relations Bd., 168 AD2d 446, the court held that "a union is not required to carry every grievance to the highest level, and the mere failure on the part of a union to proceed to arbitration with a grievance is not, per se, a breach of its duty of fair representation.” As the Appellate Division explained in Matter of Hoffman [Board of Education of the City of New York], 84 AD2d 840, a Union is not required to seek arbitration after having processed the employee's grievance through the initial stages of the grievance procedure and received unfavorable results.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: