Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Court of Appeals Issues Major 3020-a Decision

On January 9, 2017, the Court of Appeals issued a 14 page decision addressing the standard of review to be applied in Education Law Section 3020-a cases. Bolt v. Department of Education, ___N.Y. 3d___(Jan. 9, 2018). Interestingly, the Court's major opinion is fairly short (about a half of a page) and there is a concurring opinion which spans about 14 pages. This decision primarily addresses the issue of whether the Appellate Division erred by concluding that in 3 separate appeals,  that the Hearing Officer decision to terminate was shockingly excessive. In concluding that the Appellate Division erred in all three appeals, the majority simply stated:
"That reasonable minds might disagree over what the proper penalty should have been does not provide a basis for vacating the arbitral award or refashioning the penalty" (City School Dist. of the City of N.Y. v McGraham, 17 NY3d 917, 920 [2011]). Here, the penalties imposed are not irrational and do not shock the conscience (see Matter of Russo v New York City Dept. of Educ., 25 NY3d 946, 948 [2015], cert denied ___ US ___, 136 S Ct 416 [2015]; Matter of Kelly v Safir, 96 NY2d 32, 38 [2001]; Matter of Featherstone v Franco, 95 NY2d 550, 554 [2000]; Matter of Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale & Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222, 233 [1974]). The Appellate Division exceeded its authority by reweighing the evidence and substituting its judgment for that of the hearing officer.
It is difficult for me to understand the court's rationale. How is a court to determine whether or not a particular decision is shocking if it does not weigh the evidence?

The Discipline Book

Harvey and Eric Randall just updated their wonderful treatise called "The Discipline Book" which is available on Amazon now. https...