ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT USED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN THE SUMMARIES OF JUDICIAL AND QUASI-JUDICIAL DECISIONS PREPARED BY NYPPL

April 17, 2024

 

Appellate Division affirms Supreme Court's vacating an arbitration decision and award issued by a Hearing Officer

Supreme Court granted the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York's [BOE] petition to vacate an arbitration decision and award issued by the Hearing Officer. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the Supreme Court's ruling.

BOE had filed disciplinary charges against a tenured social worker [Employee] at the Department of Education pursuant to §3020-a of the Education Law "following investigations into allegations that [Employee] had inappropriately touched his then-girlfriend's daughter (Student A) on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2014, beginning when she was 12 years old."

At Employee's §3020-a disciplinary hearing, BOE called a number of witnesses and submitted an order of fact-finding and disposition issued by Family Court, which, among other things, found Employee guilty of sexually abusing Student A and ordered him to complete a sex offender program. 

The Hearing Officer dismissed all seven specifications filed against Employee, finding that the evidence did not support BOE's charges against him. BOE  initiated a CPLR Article 75 proceeding challenging Hearing Officer's decision.

Citing Matter of Asch v New York City Bd./Dept. of Educ., 104 AD3d 415, the Appellate Division opined that Supreme Court "properly vacated the Hearing Officer's award, as it was not rational or supported by adequate evidence." 

The Appellate Division's decision notes that the Hearing Officer's finding "that Student A's failure to testify at the hearing violated [Employee's] due process rights is erroneous", explaining that due process "requires only that [the accused] have the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence at the hearing, which [Employee] did."

In addition, the Appellate Division's decision states that the Hearing Officer "disregarded the testimony of witnesses from the [New York Police Department] and various state agencies who interviewed Student A and investigated her allegations regarding [Employee] on grounds that it was 'hearsay' evidence." The Appellate Division's decision then pointed out that "Hearsay is admissible in [administrative] disciplinary proceedings," citing Education Law §3020-a[3][c] and Matter of Smith v New York City Dept. of Educ., 109 AD3d 701, leave to appeal denied, 22 NY3d 856.

In the words of the Appellate Division:

The Hearing Officer's rejection of Family Court's order of fact-finding and disposition finding [Employee] guilty of child sexual abuse, on the sole basis that the disciplinary proceeding requires de novo review, was also irrational (see e.g. Matter of Board of Educ. Of Dundee Cent. School Dist. [Coleman], 96 AD3d [*2]1536, 1538-1539 [4th Dept 2012]). In reaching its determination, Family Court reviewed evidence and testimony from 11 witnesses, including Student A and investigators from various state agencies, during its fact-finding hearing. The Hearing Officer similarly ignored or gave minimal weight to the numerous pieces of evidence supporting BOE's specifications while misconstruing witness testimony to find that Student A's allegations were not credible. Given that stricter judicial scrutiny is applied to determinations rendered in compulsory arbitration (see Lackow, 51 AD3d at 567; Austin v Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y., 280 AD2d 365, 365 [1st Dept 2001]), BOE more than met its burden of showing that vacatur of the award is warranted.

Click HERE to access the Appellate Division's decision posted on the Internet.

 =============

NYPPL e-books concerning laws, rules, regulations, policies, provisions in collective bargaining agreements and court and administrative decisions addressing the employment of individuals in the public service of New York State and its political subdivisions published by BookLocker, Inc.

The Discipline Book - for information and access to a free excerpt of the material presented in this e-book, click HERE

A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty - for information and access to a free excerpt of the material presented in this e-book, click HERE

The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual - for information and access to a free excerpt of the material presented in this e-book, click HERE

Disability and other leaves of absences available to employees of New York State and employees of its political subdivisions - for information and access to a free excerpt of the material presented in this e-book, click HERE

 

 

 

 

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE, OR CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING SUCH MATERIAL, DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
New York Public Personnel Law Blog Editor Harvey Randall served as Principal Attorney, New York State Department of Civil Service; Director of Personnel, SUNY Central Administration; Director of Research, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations; and Staff Judge Advocate General, New York Guard. Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material posted to this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor NYPPL and, or, its staff and contributors are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is urged to seek such advice from a knowledgeable professional.
Copyright 2009-2024 - Public Employment Law Press. Email: n467fl@gmail.com