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February 26, 2021

Standing to submit an appeal pursuant to Education Law §310 to the Commissioner of Education

The first issue considered in this appeal to the Commission of Education concerning the termination of a probationary teacher addressed a procedural matter: persons or entities having standing to file an Education Law §310 appeal for consideration by the Commissioner of Education. 

To the extent the petitioner [Educator] in this Education Law §310 appeal sought to advance claims on behalf of her co-teacher, the Commissioner ruled that such claims must be dismissed for lack of standing. Citing Appeal of Abitbol, 57 Ed Dept Rep, and other decisions of the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner noted that an individual may not maintain a §310 appeal "unless aggrieved in the sense that he or she has suffered personal damage or injury to his or her civil, personal or property rights."  

In other words, only persons and entities who are directly affected by the act or omission being appealed have standing to bring the appeal. Accordingly, Educator could only ask the Commissioner to consider claims of being "retaliated against and harassed" that she, herself, alleges she had suffered.

Turning to the merits of Educator's appeal, the decision notes that Education Law §2573(1)(a), provides that the New York City Department of Education [DOE] may discontinue the services of a probationary teacher “at any time and for any reason, unless the teacher establishes that the termination was for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, violative of a statute, or done in bad faith.”* Further, 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 petitioner seeks relief.

The Commissioner dismissed Educator's appeal, explaining that:

1. Educator had neither alleged nor proven that her discontinuance of probationary employment was for a constitutionally impermissible reason or that it violated any statute; and

2. Although Educator attributed several inappropriate or inflammatory statements to her principal, Educator offered "no proof in support of these contentions beyond her own assertions."

Citing Matter of Hawkins v. Fariña, 171 AD3d 624, the Commissioner opined that Educator "failed to carry her burden of proving that [DOE] discontinued her probationary employment for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, in violation of a statute, or in bad faith.

* See Matter of Frasier v. Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y., 71 NY2d 763.

Click HERE to access this decision of the Commissioner of Education.

 

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