The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed a Supreme Court's granting the petition of the Board of Education to vacate an arbitration award and the penalty imposed by an arbitrator and remanded the matter to different "appropriate arbitrator" on the panel established to hear cases involving allegations of teacher misconduct.
Ruling that the lower court "correctly vacated the arbitration award in this disciplinary action," which was subject to compulsory arbitration, the Appellate Division explained that judicial review is "stricter (for compulsory arbitration) than for a determination rendered (after) ... voluntary arbitration". Here, said the court, the record supports the Supreme Court's conclusion that the arbitrator's opinion and award was not only irrational, but also arbitrary and capricious.
The Appellate Division noted that the administrative record supported the lower court's determination to sustain all charges and specifications filed against the educator, two of which were based the teacher's conduct and statements, "which threatened physical violence and placed at least one child in fear of his physical safety."
The court also sustained the Supreme Court's upholding the specification of misconduct charging certain students who were the target of the teacher's racist comments "could not have been 'unaffected' by the statements, which were far from 'benign' or 'uplifting,' as characterized by the arbitrator."
The decision is posted on the Internet at: