October 16, 2019

School Board's abolishment of a position challenged by residents of the school district


The Board of Education [Board], on the recommendation of the School Superintendent, voted to abolish the position of assistant principal at the school district's Junior-Senior High School. The Board then created an "interim position" of District Administrator for K-12 Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Support Services.*

Certain residents of the school district [Petitioner] asked the Commissioner of Education to annul the Board's resolutions, contending that the Board's actions were arbitrary and capricious because the Board did not, among other things:  (1) discuss the resolutions at a public meeting; (2) provide a rational basis for their decision; (3) collaborate with district professionals; or (4) consider actual curricular needs, adverse consequences or relevant data.

The Commissioner ruled the Petitioners' appeal must be dismissed for lack of standing, explaining that an individual may not maintain an appeal pursuant to Education Law §310 unless aggrieved in the sense that he or she has suffered personal damage or injury to his or her civil, personal or property rights and only individuals who are directly affected by the action being appealed have standing to bring an appeal.

Here, said the Commissioner, Petitioners "merely assert that they are residents" of the school district and "[s]tatus as a resident of the district or as a parent of a student does not, in and of itself, confer capacity to seek review of the actions of a board of education with respect to its employees."

Noting that Petitioners also alleged that the Board had violated the State's Open Meetings Law, the Commissioner pointed out that the Open Meetings Law, Public Officers Law §107, vests exclusive jurisdiction over complaints alleging violations of the said law in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and alleged violations thereof may not be adjudicated in an appeal to the Commissioner as the Commissioner has no jurisdiction to address the Open Meetings Law allegations.

* Certain residents [Petitioners] in the district had initiated a hybrid proceeding pursuant to CPLR Article 78 challenging the Board's abolition of the assistant principal position and then creating the position "interim position." Supreme Court dismissed Petitioners’ claims on the grounds that the Commissioner of Education had primary jurisdiction over such claims and Petitioners turned to the Commissioner for relief.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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