December 10, 2020

The courts will not vacate an administrative decision unless the record shows that the decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational or indicative of bad faith

The genesis of this CPLR Article 78 action was a school board's [Board] decision to decommission 20 school buses and to privatize portions of its bus routes because of budgetary issues confronting the school district. As a result, Board eliminated 20 school bus driver positions.

The employee organization [Union] representing the school bus drivers then initiated a  CPLR Article 78 action seeking a court order annulling the Board's action, contending that the Board's determination was arbitrary and capricious and was made in bad faith.

Supreme Court granted the Board's motion to dismiss the Union's Article 78 petition and the Union appealed. The Appellate Division, however, affirmed the Supreme Court's "judgment and order, with costs."

Addressing the merits of the Union's argument, the Appellate Division explained that "[i]n applying the 'arbitrary and capricious' standard ... a court inquires whether the determination under review had a rational basis." Further, said the court, the challenged administrative decision should not be disturbed by the court "unless the record shows that the agency's action was 'arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational or indicative of bad faith.'"

In this instance, opined the court, "the Board's decision to decommission 20 buses and to privatize portions of its bus routes because of budgetary issues facing the District, which resulted in its determination to eliminate 20 bus driver positions, had a rational basis and was not arbitrary and capricious." 

Citing the Court of Appeals decision in Riverkeeper, Inc. v Planning Bd. of Town of Southeast, 9 NY3d 219, the Appellate Division opined that "courts may not substitute their judgment for that of the agency for it is not their role to weigh the desirability of any action or [to] choose among alternatives."

Agreeing with the Supreme Court's determination to dismiss the Union's CPLR Article 78 petition, the Appellate Division denied the Union's appeal.

The decision is posted on the Internet at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_06791.htm

 

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