Adamchek v. Board of Ed. of Town of Stamford

Decision Date07 March 1978
Citation174 Conn. 366,387 A.2d 556
PartiesThomas B. ADAMCHEK v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the TOWN OF STAMFORD. Judith FLYNN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the TOWN OF STAMFORD.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Beverly J. Hodgson, Bridgeport, with whom was Richard A. Bieder, Stamford, for appellant (defendant in each case).

Robert L. Krechevsky, Hartford, with whom were Martin A. Gould, Hartford, and, on the brief, William F. Striebe, Jr., West Hartford, for appellee (plaintiff in each case).

Before HOUSE, C. J., and LOISELLE, BOGDANSKI, LONGO and SPEZIALE, JJ.

BOGDANSKI, Associate Justice.

The above cases arise from the action of the defendant board of education in not renewing the teaching contracts of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs, who are nontenured teachers, appealed the board's decision to the Court of Common Pleas. That court sustained the appeals and ordered the plaintiffs reinstated with back pay and benefits lost since termination. From the judgments rendered, the board appealed to this court. Since the cases involve similar facts and identical issues, we treat them in one opinion.

Because the court heard no evidence and decided the appeals on the record, the trial court deemed it unnecessary to make a finding of fact. The assignments of error directed at a finding of fact, therefore, are inappropriate.

The trial court concluded that the board failed to comply with certain provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act (hereinafter the UAPA); 1 that it failed to provide the plaintiffs with adequate statements of the reasons for its nonrenewal of the contracts, as required by § 10-151a and § 4-177(b)(4) of the General Statutes; and that the statement of the reasons did not afford sufficient notice to constitute due process of law.

On the appeal before us, the board claims that the court lacked jurisdiction over the appeals either under § 10-151 of the General Statutes or pursuant to the UAPA; that the termination of nontenured teachers was not subject to the provisions of the UAPA; and that remand, not reinstatement, was the proper remedy for any procedural defect in the proceedings before the board.

We first address ourselves to the jurisdictional issue. The board argues that nontenured teachers have no right of appeal to the Court of Common Pleas. It is well settled that § 10-151 of the General Statutes gives no right of appeal to a nontenured teacher. Ames v. Board of Education, 167 Conn. 444, 356 A.2d 100; Miller v. Board of Education, 166 Conn. 189, 348 A.2d 584.

On the other hand, a board of education is required by statute to hold a hearing before dismissing a nontenured teacher; 2 therefore, following the rationale of this court in Murphy v. Berlin Board of Education, 167 Conn. 368, 355 A.2d 265, a nontenured teacher would have had a right of appeal pursuant to the UAPA. See also Light v. Board of Education, 170 Conn. 35, 39 n. 2, 364 A.2d 229.

Since the present controversies arose, however, the legislature has specifically excepted town and regional boards of education from the ambit of the UAPA. 1975 Public Acts, No. 75-529. That exception, however, does not affect the present proceedings. General Statutes § 1-1(u). "Statutes should be construed retroactively only when the mandate of the legislature is imperative." Little v. Ives, 158 Conn. 452, 457, 262 A.2d 174, 176; Michaud v. Fitzryk, 148 Conn. 447, 449, 171 A.2d 397. There is nothing in 1975 Public Acts, No. 75-529, to indicate that it was designed to act retroactively. The court did not err in entertaining jurisdiction of the appeals.

We next address ourselves to the procedural due process claim. "(W)here a party appeals pursuant to the jurisdictional grant of the UAPA, the agency action is measured by the standards contained within the UAPA." McDermott v. Commissioner of Children & Youth Services, 168 Conn. 435, 441, 363 A.2d 103, 108. The procedures required by the UAPA exceed the minimal procedural safeguards mandated by the due process clause. Taylor v. Robinson, 171 Conn. 691, 698, 372 A.2d 102.

Section 4-177(b)(4) of the UAPA requires that a party in a contested case be furnished a "short and plain statement of the matters asserted." This court has stated that the notice of charges against a party whose rights are to be adjudicated by an agency must state the charges with sufficient particularity so that he is fairly apprised of the nature of the charges and may prepare his case. Murphy v. Berlin Board of Education, supra, 167 Conn. 374, 355 A.2d 265.

The reason given by the board in the present cases was that the reported performance of the plaintiffs did not meet the standards of teaching expected in the Stamford public school system. The record does not reveal any requests for further statements of reasons.

At the hearings, however, no testimony was offered concerning reasons for the nonrenewal of the plaintiffs' contracts. At each plaintiff's hearing, the board simply offered two documents as "neutral exhibits (emphasis added)," the first being the plaintiff's personnel file and the second being "Procedures for . . . Teacher Assessment (dated August 8, 1972)." Thereafter, nothing further was offered to show what in the personnel files or what in the assessment procedures was considered as grounds for the nonrenewal, or to establish what "standards" were not met, or to indicate in what way there was a failure to meet the "standards of teaching."

"The right to a hearing embraces not only the right to present evidence but also a reasonable opportunity to know the claims of the opposing party and to meet them." Morgan v. United States, 304 U.S. 1, 18, 58 S.Ct. 773, 776, 82 L.Ed. 1129. The record fails to reveal the presentation of any reason for the nonrenewals other than the formal introduction at the hearing of the plaintiffs' personnel files and the teacher assessment procedure manuals.

We conclude that the reasons advanced for the nonrenewals were insufficient to constitute due process and that the plaintiffs did not receive a "hearing" which met statutory and due process standards.

The board next claims that remand, not reinstatement, was the proper remedy. Section 4-183(g)(3) of the UAPA permits the reviewing court to reverse or modify the agency's decision if that agency's decision was made on unlawful procedure. The question of appropriate remedy was specifically before us in McDermott v. Commissioner of Children & Youth Services, supra, 168 Conn. 444, 363 A.2d 103. In McDermott, the trial court concluded that the hearing before the administrative agency did not comply with the standards of fairness and impartiality required by due process and ordered the plaintiff teacher reinstated. On appeal, this court concluded that the trial court proceedings were conducted without reference to the applicability of the UAPA and that there was no way of knowing what remedy the court might have fashioned had the UAPA been brought to its attention. We remanded the case to the Court of Common Pleas "to determine whether the matter should be further remanded to the agency, or whether the court, upon a finding that one of the six criteria of Section 4-183(g) applies, should reinstate its order of reinstatement." Id., p. 446, 363 A.2d p. 110. Thus, we there recognized that, pursuant to the UAPA, reinstatement of a teacher may be an appropriate remedy within the discretion of the trial court.

Moreover, a court-ordered...

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20 cases
  • Lee v. Board of Ed. of City of Bristol
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 3 Junio 1980
    ...to make rules or to determine contested cases."6 We reach this conclusion notwithstanding the language of Adamchek v. Board of Education, 174 Conn. 366, 369, 387 A.2d 556 (1978), because in Adamchek the legislative history of the 1975 amendment as well as the other factors we have alluded t......
  • Pet v. Department of Health Services, 14657
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 8 Marzo 1994
    ...required by the UAPA exceed the minimal procedural safeguards mandated by the due process clause.' Adamchek v. Board of Education, 174 Conn. 366, 369, 387 A.2d 556 (1978); Taylor v. Robinson, 171 Conn. 691, 698, 372 A.2d 102 (1976)." Pet v. Department of Health Services, 207 Conn. 346, 356-......
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    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 10 Mayo 1988
    ...required by the UAPA exceed the minimal procedural safeguards mandated by the due process clause." Adamchek v. Board of Education, 174 Conn. 366, 369, 387 A.2d 556 (1978); Taylor v. Robinson, 171 Conn. 691, 698, 372 A.2d 102 Pretrial discovery may be expressly authorized by statute, but, ab......
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    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 20 Agosto 1991
    ...required by the UAPA exceed the minimal procedural safeguards required by the due process clause." Adamchek v. Board of Education, 174 Conn. 366, 369, 387 A.2d 556 (1978).15 See also Hillcroft Partners v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, 205 Conn. 324, 331-32, 533 A.2d 852 (1987)......
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