In this Article 78 case, petitioner, David Vetter, was a probationary teacher for the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District for the 2005-2006 school year. In 2006, the Board of Education voted to terminate petitioner due to allegations of misconduct but did not provide written notice of this decision until a month later – two days before the effective termination date. Petitioner then commenced this Article 78 proceeding to seek 28 days of salary in accordance with Education Law § 3109-a, a name clearing hearing, and attorney fees.
The Board agreed to the name clearing hearing for petitioner but argued that he was not entitled to the 28 days of pay because the applicable notice period occurred during summer vacation when petitioner would not have received compensation. The Supreme Court denied petitioner’s Education Law § 3109-a claim but granted his application for counsel fees. The Appellate Division then reversed the award for attorney fees and affirmed the denial of pay.
Education Law § 3109-a requires school authorities to provide teachers with a written notice of termination at least 30 days prior to the effective termination date in order for them to have the opportunity to seek other employment. When the notice is late, teachers are entitled to one day’s pay for each day the notice was late. In this case, the Board agreed that they were late with the notice but since the time period was over summer vacation when petitioner would have received no salary, felt that he was not due any pay. Since other similar cases were granted pay, even over summer vacation, the Court concluded that a remittal was necessary for the calculation of 28 days’ salary. The Court agreed with the Appellate Division’s determination that petitioner was not entitled to attorney’s fees.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court modified the petition remitting to Albany Supreme Court for further proceedings.
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