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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Commissioner of Education does not have jurisdiction to consider claims that an employee organization breached its duties of fair representation


The Commissioner of Education does not have jurisdiction to consider claims that an employee organization breached its duties of fair representation
Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision 17,054

Gloria J. Parker, a tenured teacher, filed an appeal with the Commissioner of Education challenging her placement on paid administrative leave by her employer, the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Rochester. She also named as respondents in her appeal the Rochester Teachers Association (“RTA”) and New York State United Teachers (“NYSUT”).

With respect to RTA and NYSUT, Parker contended that both organizations “failed to provide her with adequate representation.”

RTA and NYSUT argued that in addition to Parker's failure to properly serve her complaint upon them, the Commissioner should dismiss both organizations from the action as “each is an unincorporated association over which the Commissioner of Education has no direct jurisdiction.”

Essentially RTA and NYSUT claim that the Commissioner of Education lacks jurisdiction over an employee organization or a labor organization.

The Commissioner agreed, explaining that Education Law §310 provides that “any person considering himself aggrieved by an action taken at a school district meeting, by the trustees of a school district or library, or by any other official act or decision of a school officer or authority may seek review of such action or decision in an appeal to the Commissioner of Education. Education Law.” In the words of the Commissioner, “§310 does not authorize the Commissioner to review actions taken by an organization such as the teachers' association."

Accordingly, the Commissioner dismissed Parker's claims with respect to RTA and NYSUT “for lack of jurisdiction,” noting that with respect to Parker's allegation concerning the adequacy of representation provided by RTA and, or, NYSUT, the Public Employment Relations Board [PERB] has exclusive jurisdiction over claims of improper employee organization practices, including allegations that the employee organization breached its duty of fair representation.

The Commissioner's decision is posted on the Internet at:

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