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

Does the definition of “student” include a person a teacher has had sexual relations with even though he did not attend school?

Yes. Back in 2008 Gina Salamino, a tenured 2nd grade teacher at P.S. 121Q, was terminated after a 3020-a hearing for having sexual relations with a 17 year old. The case created some publicity. Salamino did not contest her affair but challenged the DOE’s definition of “student” to include the boy who spent the entire school year on the register of his high school but did not attend one day of school due to modeling commitments.

Salamino claimed that she met the 17 year old through a friend of her family and had no reason to believe he was a student. Additionally, she claimed, the boy should have been discharged from Bryant High School’s register but remained there due to a clerical error.

Amazingly there is no clear definition of “student” which would help determine whether the boy was a student for purposes of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which mandates dismissal for sexual misconduct of students, or 3020-a.

The arbitrator construed Chancellor’s Regulation A-101 to define student and terminated Salimino. On appeal Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich found that since the boy was under 18 pursuant to New York State law he was a minor and affirmed that Salamino’s termination was proper.

Salamino appealed to the Appellate Division who affirmed Justice Kornreich’s decision. The Court held, “We need not determine whether petitioner is correct that the meaning of the term  “student” should be so determined. Even if she is correct, we cannot conclude that the arbitrator acted arbitrarily and capriciously in using Regulation A-101 to determine its meaning.” [citation omitted]

Gina Salamino, Petitioner-Appellant, v Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York, et al., Respondents-Respondents, 3649, 109166/08, SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT, 2011 NY Slip Op 5408; 2011 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5276, June 23, 2011, Decided