Will a court overturn two U-ratings of a 33 year veteran teacher who claims the ratings were a pretext and part of continuing harassment?

No. Margaret Poplinger was a 33 year veteran special education teacher when the administration of her school changed. Despite 33 years of satisfactory ratings and numerous complementary letters in her personnel file the new principal began to closely observe her. In a series of observations, both formal and informal, Poplinger was rated unsatisfactorily. After two years of what she claimed was consistent harassment and poor treatment due to her allegiance to the prior administration Poplinger retired and sought to have the ratings reversed by the court.

Justice Donna M. Mills found that although she sympathized with Poplinger great deference was required to be accorded the DOE. Mills wrote, “Petitioner has failed to show that the U-Ratings were arbitrary and capricious or made in bad faith. The detailed observation reports by the principal and assistant principals, describing petitioner’s poor performance in areas of lesson planning and classroom instruction, provided a rational basis for the ratings. Petitioner’s contention that the principal harassed her and was biased against her is speculative and insufficient to establish bad faith (see Matter of Che Lin Tsao v. Kelly, 28 A.D.3d 320, 812 N.Y.S.2d 522 [2006] ).

N.B. No mention in the moving papers or the decision of any action by the Rating Appeals Board.

In the Matter of the Application of MARGARET POPLINGER, Petitioner, for a Judgment pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, – against – NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Respondent. INDEX NO. 102542/12, SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK COUNTY, 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 111; 2013 NY Slip Op 30049(U), January 10, 2013

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