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November 21, 2016

Disciplinary actions pursuant to Education Law §3020-a processed consistent with compulsory arbitration standards


Disciplinary actions pursuant to Education Law §3020-a processed consistent with compulsory arbitration standards
Powell v New York City Dept. of Educ, 2016 NY Slip Op 07656, Appellate Division, Second Department

Education Law §3020-a(5) provides for judicial review of an arbitrator's disciplinary determination, made in the course of a disciplinary arbitration as set out in CPLR 7511. The grounds for vacating an award pursuant to Article 75 include a finding of an arbitrator’s misconduct, his or her abuse of power or procedural irregularities.

However, where the  parties are subject to compulsory arbitration, review of the award by the courts must satisfy an additional layer of judicial scrutiny — the arbitration decision must have “evidentiary support,” may not be arbitrary and capricious and it must have been made by the arbitrator in accordance with administrative due process.

In an Article 75 proceeding seeking to vacate a disciplinary arbitration award made pursuant to Education Law §3020-a, Monique Powell challenged the arbitrator's sustaining certain charges of misconduct against her and terminating her employment. Supreme Court denied Powell’s petition.

In sustaining the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the arbitrator’s determination, the Appellate Division, noting that Education Law §3020-a provides for compulsory arbitration, explained that Powell did not demonstrate any basis for vacating the arbitration award.

In other words, said the court, Powell did not demonstrate that the arbitration award was the result of the arbitrator’s misconduct, abuse of power, and procedural irregularities. Further, said the Appellate Division, the arbitration award satisfied the additional layer of judicial scrutiny required in situations involving compulsory arbitration as it had evidentiary support, was not arbitrary and capricious, and was in accord with administrative due process.

As to the penalty imposed, dismissal, in the words of the court, “the determination to terminate [Powell’s] employment did not shock the conscience, as the evidence adduced at the hearing demonstrated that [Powell] requested to be paid for work that she did not perform and attempted to conceal her misdeeds through intentional and deceptive conduct, which included enlisting a student and two business owners to write false letters on her behalf.”

The Appellate Division also noted that “despite the overwhelming evidence of misconduct,” Powell refused to accept responsibility for her actions.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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The Discipline Book - A 458 page guide to disciplinary actions involving public officers and employees. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5215.html
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