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February 13, 2023

Determining seniority in the course of abolishing a position

In this appeal the Petitioner appealed the action of the Board of Education in abolishing her position of library media specialist, joining several named individuals as "necessary parties." The Commissioner sustained Petitioner's appeal "to the extent indicated."

Petitioner claimed tenure in the district as a library media specialist.  On June 18, 2020, the school board adopted a resolution abolishing, among others, a library media specialist position, effective June 30, 2020.  The school district then identified Petitioner as the least senior person in the tenure area of library media specialist. 

Addressing the merits of the Petitioner's appeal, the Commissioner observed that at the time of a probationary appointment or appointment on tenure, a board of education must identify “the tenure area or areas in which [a] professional educator will devote a substantial portion of [her or] his time”, i.e. assigned to any tenure area to which she devotes a “substantial portion” of her time, defined as “40 percent or more of [her] total time spent … in the performance of [her or] his duties …” (see 8 NYCRR 30.1 [g]).

The Commissioner opined that "Given the limited and ambiguous information in the record, it is impossible to determine which employee’s services should have been discontinued." The Commissioner then admonish [the appointing authority] to comply with Part 30 of the Rules of the Board of Regents in appointing individuals to tenure-eligible positions. "It is unacceptable that [appointing authority] was unable to produce a single document establishing the tenure area(s) to which [Petitioner] and the named necessary parties were appointed] noting that the failure appointing authority "to identify this information, which is required by 8 NYCRR 30-1.3, now necessitates a recreation of its institutional thought process from several years ago—all while the employment of one or more people hangs in the balance" noted the Commissioner.

Click HERE to access the text of the Commissioner's decision.

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