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November 06, 2020

Penalty imposed following a disciplinary arbitration challenged

The petitioner [Teacher] in this action brought pursuant to CPLR Article 75 challenged the penalty imposed by the arbitrator - termination - following a disciplinary hearing. Supreme Court vacated the penalty portion of the disciplinary arbitration award and remanded the matter to the Board of Education [Board] for the imposition of a lesser penalty. The Board appealed the court's order.

The Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court's ruling, on the law, reinstated the penalty imposed by the arbitrator and dismissed the Article 75 proceeding.

Citing Matter of Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale and Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222, and other decisions, the Appellate Division opined that it did not find the penalty of termination of Teacher's employment shocking to one's sense of fairness "given the evidence of [Teacher's] pedagogical shortcomings, documented by supervisors and a peer evaluator, and his lack of improvement during two school years."

In particular, the court noted Matter of Russo v New York City Dept. of Educ., 25 NY3d 946, cert. denied 577 US 957, in which the termination of an Educator was sustained after three years of unsatisfactory performance ratings "notwithstanding [the educator's] 18 years of satisfactory teaching."

The decision is posted on the Internet at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_06349.htm.

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