Can a School Leadership Team member who claims that Title I funds were misused in his school challenge the OSI determination that nothing was done improperly?

No. Petitioner, the UFT representative on the school’s School Leadership Team complained to the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) that federal Title I funds were misallocated in his school. OSI, after a two-year delay, determined that nothing was done improperly and closed his complaint.

Petitioner brought an Article 78 proceeding to challenge OSI’s determination and the Appellate Division, First Department, held he had no standing to maintain the petition. The Appellate Division found “[p]etitioner’s status as a complainant who initiated an administrative investigation, does not provide him with standing for a private right of action to challenge the agency’s determination, absent a demonstration that he suffered actual injury.”

The concept of standing is an important aspect of litigation to help make sure that those who bring cases actually have a dispute that they need determined by the Court. Otherwise, without an actual stake in the proceeding, or lack of standing, they may not be fully committed as litigants.

MATTER OF THOMAS v. New York City Dept. of Educ., 2016 NY Slip Op 2154 – NY_ Appellate Div., 1st Dept (March 24, 2016)

Can a Chapter Leader, excluded from his school pending disciplinary charges, be prevented from attending School Leadership Team meetings?

Yes. Francesco Portelos, the duly elected Chapter Leader at IS 49 in Staten Island, was reassigned pending a SCI investigation and, by letter, notified that he was not to return to IS 49 without prior written permission and that any school activities he had participated in would remain suspended until the resolution of the matter.

As Chapter Leader Portelos is a mandated member of the School Leadership Team and commenced an Article 78 proceeding to challenge his exclusion from the Team. Justice Cynthia Kern initially ruled that the petition was time-barred since it was filed almost one year after he was excluded from the meetings.

Kern ruled that even if the petition was timely she would denied the relief requested because DOE’s policy of exclusion was rational and in accordance with its policies and procedures. Chancellor’s Regulation A-655 provides that mandatory members attend the meetings the regulation “does not confer a right upon such member if they are prohibited from entering the school or participating in school activities due to administrative reassignment and/or pending charges of misconduct.”

Portelos also argued that the school violated the Open Meetings Law, POL Section 103 by excluding him. Kern ruled that School Leadership Teams were advisory in nature and not subject to the Open Meetings Law.

Portelos v. NYCDOE