Will the Court sustain a 3020-a award in which a teacher was terminated for maintaining an Albany address to avoid paying NYC income taxes?

Terri Patterson, a 10 veteran teacher at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn with an otherwise unblemished disciplinary record was found to have used an Albany address on DOE records and failed to file income taxes for three years as a New York City Resident. She immediately amended her taxes and paid the $1100 City income tax.

She was then served with charges in which the DOE sought her termination. Arbitrator Stuart Bauchner heard her explanation as to how she had an Albany address on file with the DOE. She claimed that after her “layoff” in 2003 (not clear how and why she was laid off) her address was inadvertently changed to Albany and she did not realize it until she was notified about it. The arbitrator did not buy Patterson’s explanation and terminated her. He found that she was not remorseful and used the DOE to defraud the government.

On appeal Supreme Court Justice Gische found that the standard to apply in 3020-a penalties was whether the penalty shocked the conscience. Justice Gische found that it did. Given Patterson’s ten year unblemished record, the lack of impact on her students and that remorse doesn’t make sense when you refile and correct an error the termination was vacated and sent back to the DOE for a determination not inconsistent with the Court’s decision.

Utilizing the shocks the conscience test might be beyond the power of the court since 3020-a determinations are reviewable only under those provisions of CPLR 7511 and not Article 78. No record of appeal could be found.
In the Matter of the Application of TERRI PATTERSON, Petitioner, For a judgment pursuant to Article 75 of the C.P.L.R. -against- CITY OF NEW YORK; NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; JOEL KLEIN, CHANCELLOR OF NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Respondents, SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK COUNTY, Index No. 111175/2010, 2011 NY Slip Op 30870U; 2011 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1520; 245 N.Y.L.J. 80, April 8, 2011

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2 thoughts on “Will the Court sustain a 3020-a award in which a teacher was terminated for maintaining an Albany address to avoid paying NYC income taxes?

  1. This case is very personal to me, and therefore, I feel that I should not sit down as a coward and not act on behalf of the teacher. The case involving Terri patterson of PS 8 is most ridiculous! Even if she did not pay her income taxes for three consecutive years, why did it involve into her termination? This should have been a private matter between Ms. Patterson and the Internal Revenue Service. Why was her past looked into after all these years by the administrator who has a past himself in sexually harrassing black, female teachers? Was this a case of vendetta? How could the teacher have said to not make an ‘impact’ on her students? After years of working at PS 8 was she ever observed or given a feedback on her work? Why was she given a “s” rating if she were so darn ineffective? Her situation does not add up. After years of working with the same administator, I know how he works behind the scenes. He will dig into your past and use your mistakes against you. He will also conspire with other administators to put letters in your file as a way of building a case against you. Terri patterson received an unfair judgement.

    • “the termination was vacated and sent back to the DOE for a determination not inconsistent with the Court’s decision.”

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