Naming all necessary parties is critical to Commissioner of Education's considering the merits of an appeal
Appeal of the Islip Teachers Association, Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision #16,418
The Islip Teachers Association, the collective bargaining organization representing teachers employed by the Islip Union Free School District, filed an appeal with the Commissioner of Education alleging that the Islip UFSD violated the shared decisionmaking requirements in §100.11 of the Commissioner’s regulations [8 NYCRR 100.11] by refusing to invoke the conflict resolution procedures in its “shared decisionmaking plan” [the Plan] to resolve issues involving the interview and selection process for the high school assistant principal, high school English Department Chairperson, and English teacher leave replacement positions.
The school district asked the Commissioner to dismiss the appeal as untimely, pointing out that an appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of, “unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown.”
On this point the Commissioner ruled that the Association’s appeal was filed and served within 30 days of Islip’s final determination regarding the Association’s request to invoke the Plan’s conflict resolution process and declined to dismiss the appeal as untimely.
The Commissioner, however, dismissed the appeal “for failure to join necessary parties,” i.e., a party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of a petitioner.
The Commissioner explained that with respect to the Association’s complaints related to the interview and selection process for the high school assistant principal, high school English Teacher leave replacement and English Department chairperson positions, a determination in favor of the Association would make the process by which these individuals were appointed, hired or selected unlawful.
Noting that although the Association did not expressly seek to nullify the appointment, hiring or selection of these individuals, “that step is a necessary component of the relief requested.” The Association's failure to name such necessary parties proved to be a fatal omission as a determination in the Association’s favor would adversely affect the incumbents of those positions.
Accordingly, the Commissioner ruled that the “failure to join these individuals as parties requires dismissal of the appeal.”
In addition, the Commissioner noted that the Association sought a declaratory ruling, including an order directing the district to adhere to the conflict resolution procedures in the Plan in the future. In this regard the Commissioner ruled that “the appeal must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” commenting that “[i]t is well established that the Commissioner does not issue advisory opinions or declaratory rulings in an appeal pursuant to Education Law §310.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at:http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume52/d16418.html