Will an arbitrator’s finding that a teacher’s statement to a student such as “hey, baby,” “how you doing baby?,” and “you good, baby?,” violated Chancellor’s Regulations A-421 be upheld?

Yes. Stanley Feldman, a physical education teacher and coach for over 30 years was referred for disciplinary charges by the principal of Boys and Girls High School for allegedly using the word “baby” when referring to a female student in the gym and for showing a student a picture on his cell phone that upset her and was considered sexual harassment.

After a hearing the Arbitrator Richard C. Gwin dismissed the sexual harassment charges but found that Feldman had referred to some of his female students as “baby.” A $1500 fine was imposed.

Feldman appealed. Justice Robert E. Torres found that the award was not arbitrary and capricious. The Appellate Division, First Department agreed. The Appellate Court wrote, “Under the circumstances here, we conclude that the penalty is not so excessive and disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one’s sense of fairness.”

Feldman v. DOE (Decided 11.21.13)

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