Will a Court Entertain a Discovery Request in a 3020-a Proceeding Before a Final Award is Made?

No. Many times when faced with a disciplinary hearing the parties require information from each other to prepare for the case. While the Education Law provides an affirmative obligation to provide such material the guidelines for the issuance of such a discovery order from an arbitrator are not clear.

In this case the School District sought some emails from a teacher. The arbitrator refused to order the teacher to turn them over so the District went to Supreme Court to seek redress.

Justice Donald A. Greenwood ruled that a court order in such a situation was improper since the statute only allowed the court to review final arbitration determinations.

It is important in such cases to make the application on the record to preserve any issue for appeal.

In the Matter of the Application of the Jordan-Elbridge Central School District and the Board of Education thereof, Petitioners, For an Order Pursuant to Article 75 of the CPLR Vacating the Hearing Officer’s Decision, against Anonymous, a Tenured Administrator, Respondent. Sup. Ct., Onondaga County, October 16, 2012. Index No. 2012-3582.

Will failure to file a specific notice of claim defeat a school secretary’s workplace condition complaint?

Yes. Lynne Schnell, a school secretary at Aviation High School and her son, brought an action in Queens Supreme Court for working conditions against the City, school administrators and the Chapter Leader.

Schnell complained that her workspace had no windows, ventilation or adequate air and had reached a temperature of 120° F. She complained to the school’s administration, the UFT, the Department of Health and the DOE component of the Public Employee Safety and Health Board to no avail.

During the last two weeks of June 2006 she came to school seeking relocation and upon not being relocated she left. An S rating was changed to a U rating for excessive absences. Her claimed injuries included intentional infliction of emotional distress and the development of a  staph  infection.   Schnell  also  alleged  that  the  Chapter  Leader  “came  into her room [, room] 149F, blocked the door and proceeded to scream and curse at her and throw a chair at her for complaining.”

A 3020-a proceeding was brought against Schnell and was settled with a stipulation in which she agreed to withdraw all of her claims against the DOE except for a claim involving whistleblowing. This last claim was not included on her notice of claim.

Leaving the remaining claim off of her notice of claim proved fatal to her lawsuit and Justice Kevin J. Kerrigan summarily dismissed her claim.

Lynne Schnell and Luke Serkanic, Plaintiff, – against – The City of New York, New York City Department of Education, Ralph Santiago, Eileen Taylor, Joyce Seiden, Dino Charlalambous, Jerry Frohnhoefer, Soraya Cuervo-Digiorgio, and Mary Vigoa, Defendants, SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, QUEENS COUNTY, 2011 NY Slip Op 31220U; 2011 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2168, April 11, 2011