Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Disciplinary hearing officer permitted to "draw the strongest inferences" from the record in the event the charged individual declines to testify at his or her disciplinary hearing


Disciplinary hearing officer permitted to "draw the strongest inferences" from the record in the event the charged individual declines to testify at his or her disciplinary hearing
Varriale v City of New York, 2017 NY Slip Op 02513, Appellate Division, First Department

The Appellate Division affirmed the decision to terminate a tenured New York City school teacher [Petitioner]. Noting that Petitioner showed no remorse nor appreciation for the seriousness of her conduct, the Appellate Division said that as Petitioner declined to testify at her administrative disciplinary hearing, "the hearing officer was permitted to draw the strongest inference against her permitted by the record."

The court said that the record indicated that Petitioner had "strayed from her duties as a school teacher by deliberately escalating a confrontation with a student by yelling expletives and threatening him with violence."

The Appellate Division's decision also noted that: "Even after security personnel defused the situation by removing the student from the classroom, Petitioner subsequently confronted him again, later that day, yelling at least six times that her husband, an armed police officer, would kill him. Petitioner then brought her husband to school the following morning to the student's scheduled class in the gymnasium although the student, having been suspended from school, was not there."

The court said that although Petitioner was a thirteen-year employee with no prior disciplinary history, and no charges had ever previously been filed against her, in light of the seriousness of the allegations made against her, the penalty of termination was not shocking to one's sense of fairness.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_02513.htm

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