McKenzie v. Bd. of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of Albany

Decision Date01 November 2012
Citation100 A.D.3d 1096,952 N.Y.S.2d 860,2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 07258
PartiesIn the Matter of Shunn McKENZIE, Petitioner, v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ALBANY, Respondent.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Trevor W. Hannigan, Albany, for petitioner.

Girvin & Ferlazzo, PC, Albany (Robert F. Manfredo of counsel), for respondent.

Before: MERCURE, J.P., SPAIN, MALONE JR. and KAVANAGH, JJ.

KAVANAGH, J.

Proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 (transferred to this Court by order of the Supreme Court, entered in Albany County) to review a determination of respondent which terminated petitioner's employment.

Petitioner was employed as a custodian for the City School District of Albany when, in 2009, police responded to his home in connection with a domestic violence complaint. After petitioner was placed under arrest, the police found on his person 3 1/2 grams of crack cocaine. As a result of the circumstances which led to his arrest, and the seizure of illegal drugs from his person, petitioner was charged by the school district with engaging in “conduct unbecoming a[s]chool [d]istrict employee and misconduct.” A hearing was scheduled and, pursuant to Civil Service Law § 75, petitioner was advised in writing of the identity of the Hearing Officer who was appointed to preside over the proceedings. After the hearing, a report was issued in which the Hearing Officer found petitioner guilty of misconduct and recommended his dismissal as a school district employee. Respondent adopted the Hearing Officer's recommendation by resolution and petitioner's employment was terminated. Petitioner then commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding.

Petitioner initially argues that the Hearing Officer's appointment was invalid because respondent failed to provide him with the official notice of the Hearing Officer's designation. Civil Service Law § 75(2) requires that a hearing upon charges of misconduct “shall be held by the officer or body having the power to remove the person against whom such charges are preferred, or by a deputy or other person designated by such officer or body in writing for that purpose” ( see Matter of Gardner v. Coxsackie–Athens Cent. School Dist. Bd. of Educ., 92 A.D.3d 1093, 1094, 939 N.Y.S.2d 149 [2012],appeal dismissed and lv. dismissed19 N.Y.3d 917, 950 N.Y.S.2d 85, 973 N.E.2d 181 [2012] ). We have held that “the requirements of Civil Service Law § 75(2) are satisfied by a written record of such designation, such as ... a letter to the hearing officer advising him or her that the official designation has taken place” (Matter of Arthur v. Soares, 95 A.D.3d 1619, 1620, 945 N.Y.S.2d 782 [2012];see Matter of Stafford v. Board of Educ. of Mohonasen Cent. School Dist., 61 A.D.3d 1259, 1260, 877 N.Y.S.2d 503 [2009],lv. denied13 N.Y.3d 704, 2009 WL 2779386 [2009] ). Here, petitioner was provided a copy of the December 3, 2010 letter from respondent's interim superintendent informing the HearingOfficer that he had been appointed by respondent to preside over the hearing pursuant to Civil Service Law § 75. This letter, along with other exhibits, including respondent's December 2, 2010 resolution appointing the Hearing Officer, constituted a written record sufficiently documenting the validity of the Hearing Officer's appointment and satisfied the relevant provisions of Civil Service Law § 75(2) ( see Matter of Stafford v. Board of Educ. of Mohonasen Cent. School Dist., 61 A.D.3d at 1260, 877 N.Y.S.2d 503).

Nor are we persuaded by petitioner's claim that he was denied due process because he did not receive adequate notice of the charges that had been filed against him. Due process requires that “a notice of charges must reasonably apprise the accused of the claim being made so that an adequate defense may be mounted,” and any disciplinary determination must address the accusations as set forth in this statement of charges (Matter of Benson v. Board of Educ. of Washingtonville Cent. School Dist., 183 A.D.2d 996, 997, 583 N.Y.S.2d 594 [1992],lv. denied80 N.Y.2d 756, 588 N.Y.S.2d 824, 602 N.E.2d 232 [1992];see Matter of Brown v. Saranac Lake Cent. School Dist., 273 A.D.2d 785, 785, 709 N.Y.S.2d 706 [2000] ). The written notice charging petitioner with misconduct stated that the allegations were based on circumstances that resulted in his arrest and the seizure by the police of crack cocaine from his person at the time of his arrest. While evidence was presented at the hearing regarding petitioner's past criminal record and other employment issues, that evidence was relevant to determine the penalty to be imposed if petitioner was...

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9 cases
  • Zlotnick v. City of Saratoga Springs
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 26 Noviembre 2014
    ...of Block v. Ambach, 73 N.Y.2d 323, 332–333, 540 N.Y.S.2d 6, 537 N.E.2d 181 [1989] ; Matter of McKenzie v. Board of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of Albany, 100 A.D.3d 1096, 1098, 952 N.Y.S.2d 860 [2012] ; Matter of Orens v. Novello, 307 A.D.2d 392, 392, 761 N.Y.S.2d 547 [2003], appeal dismis......
  • Young v. Vill. of Gouverneur
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 15 Diciembre 2016
    ...him and those charges were sufficiently specific to allow for an adequate defense (see Matter of McKenzie v. Board of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of Albany, 100 A.D.3d 1096, 1098, 952 N.Y.S.2d 860 [2012] ; Matter of Auxier v. Town of Laurens, 23 A.D.3d at 913, 804 N.Y.S.2d 134 ). Finally, ......
  • Tinter v. Bd. of Trs. of the Pound Ridge Library Dist.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 29 Noviembre 2017
    ...appointment and satisfied the relevant provisions of Civil Service Law § 75(2) (see Matter of McKenzie v. Board of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of Albany, 100 A.D.3d 1096, 1097–1098, 952 N.Y.S.2d 860 ; Matter of Perryman v. Village of Saranac Lake, 64 A.D.3d 830, 832–833, 881 N.Y.S.2d 693 ;......
  • Atanov v. Cnty. of Ulster
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 28 Octubre 2021
    ...properly based on the circumstances and his actions that resulted in his arrest (see Matter of McKenzie v. Board of Educ. of the City Sch. Dist. of Albany, 100 A.D.3d 1096, 1098, 952 N.Y.S.2d 860 [2012] ; see also Matter of Gilbert [Division of N.Y. State Police–Commissioner of Labor], 38 A......
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