Is a teacher required to raise, as a defense in a disciplinary hearing, a charge that is over three years old?

No. Education Law § 3020­a (1) requires that disciplinary charges against a teacher be brought within three years from the date of the alleged misconduct, unless the alleged misconduct constituted a crime when committed.

Petitioner, teacher, was charged with, among other things, the submission of false documentation to the DOE in order to improperly obtain his daughter’s admission to a school for which she was not zoned. At the 3020-a hearing, although the DOE attorney referred to charge as criminal and cited two provisions of the Penal Law, the arbitrator did not make specific findings that the conduct was criminal (although the arbitrator did find that teacher committed the act). While the incident was over three years old the teacher did not raise this as a defense.

The Appellate Division, First Department, found that the teacher is not required to raise the staleness of a charge as a defense and dismissed the charge. The matter was sent back to the arbitrator for findings less than termination.

In the Matter of DAVID SUKER, Respondent, v. NEW YORK CITY BOARD/DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Appellant. 15398, 103742/12 Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department.129 A.D.3d 502 (2015), 11 N.Y.S.3d 578, 2015 NY Slip Op 04940. Decided June 11, 2015.

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