Matter of Luft v New York City Bd./ Dept. of Educ.


Petitioner pursuant to CPLR 7511. 

            I. Background

Petitioner began employment in Brooklyn, 1987 as a pre-kindergarten teacher by respondent New York City Department of Education.  After an incident on May 10, 2008 petitioner was “charged with conduct unbecoming her position, conduct, prejudicial to the good order, efficiency, or discipline of the service, and endangering the welfare of a child.”  This was in response to petitioner’s responsibilities concerning a child’s release at dismissal.  The hearing officer “declined to terminate petitioner, finding that while it is (her) responsibility . . . to make sure her students are properly dismissed to the appropriate caregivers, the failure of the school to provide (her) with a substitute paraprofessional mitigates (her) culpability for the incident.”  However, petitioner was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 for failing to ask for help during the end of the day procedures. 

            II. Contentions

Petitioner sought to prove that the hearing officer’s decision was not proper in accordance with CPLR 7511.

            III. Analysis

Petitioner was unable to prove that the hearing officer’s decision was based on corruption, fraud of misconduct.  The petitioner’s allegations of bias of the hearing officer were denied.  Petitioner contends that the New York City Board of Education did not vote on the above situation, that the hearing officer overstepped her position.  That in accordance to Education Law 3020-a(2)s, “the Board must vote on charges against a teacher to determine “whether probable cause exists to bring a disciplinary proceeding against (her) pursuant to this section.”” But, Education Law 2590-h(38) allows for the Chancellor and then community superintendents to “duties and responsibilities of the (Board).”  Hearsay is permitted therefore, the hearing officer reached her decision within allowance.  Hearing procedures and timeliness were also followed.  It was found that the award imposed was supported.  The petitioner’s argument that the hearing officer needed K.Z.’s testimony are without substance since the petitioner did not show how this addition would change the conclusion.  Lastly, the adequate punishment was inflicted as to the petitioner’s involvement in the event.  The petitioner displayed a lack of proposed help during the time of dismissal, and therefore, in part, responsible for the event. 

            IV Conclusion

The petition for an order to vacate the award was denied.