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Home / Case Digests / Appellate Division, Third Dept. / Public Employees: Matter of Blake v. Mills

Public Employees: Matter of Blake v. Mills

Appellate Division, Third Department

Public Employees

Termination — Notice of Appeal

Matter of Blake v. Mills
Article 78 Proceeding; Supreme Court, Albany County

Background: In 2006, the petitioner, then a principal in the New York City School District, was charged with 14 counts of misconduct. An arbitration hearing was held pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement and Education Law §3020(3), following which the arbitrator found petitioner guilty of misconduct and recommended that petitioner’s employment be terminated. Upon petitioner’s appeal, that determination was implemented by respondent chancellor of respondent New York City Department of Education. The petitioner then attempted to appeal from the Chancellor’s decision to respondent Commissioner of Education by serving copies of the appeal papers on a clerk in the chancellor’s office and on an administrator in the community school district superintendent’s office. Noting that this did not comply with the service requirements for appeals to the commissioner from decisions of the chancellor, the commissioner dismissed the appeal for improper service. The petitioner commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding challenging that determination.  Supreme court dismissed the petition and petitioner appeals.

Ruling: In disciplinary matters governed by Education Law §3020(3), appeals to the commissioner must be instituted by effecting personal service of a copy of the appeal upon: (1) the chancellor, or a person designated to accept service on behalf of the chancellor; and (2) the community school district superintendent who initiated the arbitration proceeding, or a person in the office of such superintendent who has been designated to accept service.  Here, personal service was not effected upon the chancellor.  In light of the petitioner’s failure to comply with the applicable regulation, the commissioner’s dismissal of the petitioner’s administrative appeal was not arbitrary and capricious or affected by an error of law. The judgment is affirmed.

Jeffrey M. Bernbach of Bernbach Law Firm PLLC for the appellant; Zainab A. Chaudhry, assistant New York attorney general, for respondent Richard Mills; Susan Paulson, assistant corporation counsel, for respondent New York City Department of Education