Justice Arthur F. Engoron


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Ex-tenured teacher brought this special proceeding against the Department of Education (DOE) seeking to vacate a Hearing Officer’s (HO) unfavorable award. She was the subject of four disciplinary charges related to acts and omissions amounting to allegations of a dereliction of duty. DOE alleged petitioner continuously failed to accomplish “learning outcomes” of her lesson plans, and school officials grew concerned with her refusal to accept or implement supervisory recommendations to improve her pedagogy. Petitioner claimed she was targeted after being absent 43 days due to a documented medical condition, and challenged the HO’s decision. The court found HO’s determination to sustain four specifications was sufficiently founded on evidence properly derived from the record of petitioner’s Education Law §3020-a hearing. The record supported a finding of petitioner’s frequent absences, failure to execute lesson plans and refusal to accept professional criticism, and the decision to sustain the charges was not arbitrary. Thus the penalty of termination could not be said to be disproportionate to the specifications as they directly related to her inability to educate. Vacatur was unwarranted, and the motion was denied.