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November 16, 2020

Judicial review of an arbitration award issued following an Education Law §3020-a disciplinary hearing

An Education Law §3020-a disciplinary hearing arbitrator issued an award that, in part, directed the City School District of the City of New York [DOE] to reinstate a former school principal [Principal] to particular DOE principal position. DOE filed a petition pursuant to Article 75 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules [CPLR] seeking a court order vacating the arbitrator's award.

Supreme Court, finding that the arbitrator exceeded her authority by ordering the reinstatement of Principal to a specific school, granted DOE's petition to vacate that part of the arbitrator's award. Supreme Court also dismissed Principal's companion CPLR Article 78 petition seeking to enforce the arbitration award. Principal appealed the Supreme Court's ruling.

The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed Supreme Court's judgment, noting that Supreme Court had jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter pursuant to Education Law §3020-a(5) which "specifically provides for judicial review of arbitrator's decisions pursuant to CPLR [§]7511."

Citing Matter of Adlerstein v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 64 NY2d 90, the Appellate Division concluded:

1. Supreme Court had correctly determined that "the arbitrator exceeded her authority by ordering the reinstatement of [Principal] to a specific school, as the authority to place pedagogical staff is within DOE's sole purview;" and 

2. Principal "was not cleared" of all of the charges and specifications filed against him."

The Appellate Division then addressed a CPLR Article 78 proceeding initiated by Principal and opined that "since the [Supreme Court] correctly determined in the article 75 proceeding that [Principal was] not entitled to reinstatement at his formerly assigned school, and that the arbitrator exceeded her authority by rendering a contrary determination, there [was] no basis for mandamus relief to enforce the arbitrator's decision."

The decision is posted on the Internet at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_06476.htm.

 

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