Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Election of administrative remedies


Election of administrative remedies
Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision #17,062

The Board of Education assigned a teacher to teach five classes following a reduction in her position from a full-time position to a .83 full time equivalent (“FTE”). 

The teacher filed a grievance challenging the Board's action contending that because she continues to teach five classes each day she is "a 1.0 FTE teacher." The teacher's employee organization advised her that it would not be advancing her grievance to arbitration as the information provided did not constitute a violation of any specific provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA] between the organizations and the school district.

The teacher then filed an appeal with the Commissioner of Education seeking the same relief she sought in the grievance. The school district object, contending that the prior commencement of an action or proceeding by filing a grievance for the same or similar relief constitutes an election of remedies which precludes the initiation of an appeal to the Commissioner.

After stating that "It would be contrary to the orderly administration of justice for the Commissioner to decide issues that a petitioner has elected to raise in another forum" and the teacher admits that the relief sought in both the grievance and this appeal is the same, the Commissioner said that the record before her shows that teacher alleged that the district was obligated under the CBA to compensate her at a salary commensurate with 1.0 FTE status in her Level I grievance, to the extent that the teacher elected to pursue her claims through the grievance process, such claims must be dismissed. 

However, noted the Commissioner, in her grievance, the teacher included a claim that the district’s actions are in violation of 8 NYCRR §100.2(i) of the Commissioner’s regulations. In its letter to the teacher declining to advance her grievance to arbitration, the Association stated that a claimed violation of statute is not a grievable matter under the CBA as such a claim does not allege a violation of a specific provision of the CBA.

In view of this, the Commissioner declined to dismiss the teacher’s claim that the school district acted in violation of §100.2(i) of the Commissioner’s regulations.

Turning to the merits of this claim advanced by the teacher, the Commissioner noted that  §100.2(i), relating to teaching assignments, provides that "The number of daily periods of classroom instruction for a teacher should not exceed five.  A school requiring of any teacher more than six teaching periods a day, or a daily teaching load of more than 150 pupils, should be able to justify the deviation from this policy."

Observing that in an appeal to the Commissioner, the petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and the burden of establishing the facts upon which the petitioner seeks relief, the Commissioner noted that the teacher did not argue that her number of daily periods of classroom instruction exceeds five nor that . she is assigned a daily teaching load in excess of 150 students.  Rather teacher contends that as §100.2(i) defines a full-time teaching load as five classes, she is entitled to compensation as a full-time teacher. 

The Commissioner explained that §100.2(i) merely establishes a policy that teachers should not be assigned more than five classes or a teaching load of 150 pupils and requires that a board of education be able to justify any such assignment, for the purpose of maintaining quality instruction for students -- it does not define full-time status for purposes of compensation, which as in this case, is a matter governed by the applicable CBA.

The Commissioner then held that the teacher "has not established that [the school district's] actions are in violation of §100.2(i) of the Commissioner’s regulations and dismissed the appeal.

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:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances 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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