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Judge’s ruling over whether Jordan-Elbridge school district has to turn over 87,000 emails to suspended principal David Zehner

Judge’s ruling over whether Jordan-Elbridge school district has to turn over 87,000 emails to suspended principal David Zehner

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Published by The Post-Standard
The Jordan-Elbridge school district asked state Supreme Court Judge Donald A. Greenwood to overturn a hearing officer’s order that it had to produce 87,000 emails created over three years and turn them over to suspended Principal David Zehner. But the judge this week dismissed the district’s request, saying he did not have jurisdiction over the matter because the case is in arbitration. Now the district will have to either turn over the emails or appeal the judge’s ruling. Here is Greenwood’s decision:
The Jordan-Elbridge school district asked state Supreme Court Judge Donald A. Greenwood to overturn a hearing officer’s order that it had to produce 87,000 emails created over three years and turn them over to suspended Principal David Zehner. But the judge this week dismissed the district’s request, saying he did not have jurisdiction over the matter because the case is in arbitration. Now the district will have to either turn over the emails or appeal the judge’s ruling. Here is Greenwood’s decision:

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Published by: The Post-Standard on Oct 19, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

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At
a
Term
of
the
Supreme
Court
oftheStateofNew
York,
heldin
and
forthe
County
of
Onondaga
onSeptember25,2012.
PRESENT:HON.
DONALDA.
GREENWOODSupreme
Court
Justice
STATE
OF
NEWYORKSUPREMECOURT
COUNTY
OF
ONONDAGA
In
theMatter
of
the
Application
of
the
JORDAN-ELBRIDGECENTRALSCHOOLDISTRICT
andTHE
BOARD
OF
EDUCATION
thereof,Petitioners,
ForanOrderPursuant
toArticle75of
the
CPLR
Vacatingthe
Hearing
Officer's
Decision,
v.
ANONYMOUS,a
TenuredAdministrator,
Respondent.
DECISION
AND
ORDER
RJI
No.:33-12-2305IndexNo.:2012-3582
APPEARANCES:CHARLESC.SPAGNOLI,ESQ.,OF
THE
LAW
FIRM
OF
FRANK
W.MILLER
ForPetitioners
STEPHENCIOTOLI,
ESQ.,OF
O'HARA,O'CONNELL
&
CIOTOLI,
P.e.
ForRespondentThepetitioners,Jordan-ElbridgeCentralSchoolDistrictandtheBoard
of
Education,bringthispetitionpursuanttoCPLR§7511seekingtovacatetheDecision
of
HearingOfficerFrederickP.Daywhichorderedthemtoproducecertainemailsduringdiscovery.
See,CPLR
§7511.DayhadbeenpreviouslyappointedbytheNewYorkStateEducationDepartmenttohearanddecidechargesfiledbythepetitionersagainsttherespondentpursuanttoEducationLaw
 
§3020-a.OnMay
4,2012
thehearingofficerorderedthepetitionerdistricttoproduceemailsfortenindividualscoveringaperiod
of
threeyearseach,andbyletterdatedJune13,2012thedistrictrequestedthatthehearingofficerreconsiderthedecision.Attheparties'appearanceonJune25,2012thehearingofficerdeniedthedistrict'srequestforconsideration.Thepetitionerbringsthisactiontovacateanawardonthegroundthatthehearingofficer'sdecision"exceededhispowerorsoimperfectlyexecuteditthatafinalanddefiniteawarduponthesubjectmattersubmittedwasnotmade."
CPLR
§75II
(b)
(l)(iii).
ThepetitionwasfiledonJuly
5,2012
andnotranscript
of
theJune
25,2012
hearingorthehearingofficer'sdecisionwasprovidedinsupport
of
thepetition.As
of
thedate
of
thisdecision,thepetitionershavenotprovidedtheCourtwiththetranscript.TherespondenthasansweredthepetitionandatthesametimeseekstodismissthepetitiononthegroundthatthisCourtlacksjurisdictiontovacatethedecisionatthisstage
of
theproceedinginasmuchasthediscoveryorderisnotafinaldeterminationsubjecttoreviewunderCPLR§7511.The
law
iswellsettledthatinorderforthisCourttointerveneorevenentertainasuitseekingcourtinterventiontheremustbean"award"withinthemeaning
of
thestatute.
See,MobilOilIndonesia,Inc.
v.
AsameraOil,
43NY2d276(1977).TheCourt
of
Appeals,inaddressingadecisionmadeinthecontext
of
arequestfordiscovery,hasheldthatbeforethe'''awards'
of
arbitratorswhicharesubjecttojudicialexaminationunderthestatute-onlytoaverylimitedextent-arethefinaldeterminationsmadeattheconclusion
of
thearbitrationproceedings.Generallytheawardisthearbitrator'sdecisionandfinaldeterminationuponthematterssubmitted."
Id.
TheFourthDepartmentrecentlyaddressedthisissueinthecontext
of
respondent'smotionforsummaryjudgmentdismissal
of
eleven
of
sixteenpendingchargesinan
2
 
EducationLaw§3020-ahearing.
See,GenevaCitySchoolDistrictv.Anonymous,
77AD3d1365(4
th
Dept.2010).TheCourtheldthatthehearingofficer'sgranting
of
themotionconstitutedan"interimaward."
See,id.
Therespondentcorrectlyarguesherethatadecisiononadiscoveryissueduringtheongoingproceedingisaninterlocutoryorderwhichinvolvesonlyalimitedproceduralquestionandinnowayconstitutesafinaldeterminationmadeattheconclusion
of
thearbitrationproceedings.
See,MobilOil,supra;seealso,GenevaCitySchoolDistrict,supra.
Thereisthereforenoauthorityforjudicialinterventionatthisjuncture.
See,GenevaCitySchoolDistrict,supra,citing,Town
of
Southampton
v.
Patrolman's
BenevolentAssociation
of
SouthamptonTown,Inc.,
8AD3d580(2dDept.2004).Thepetitioners'relianceupon
Board
of
Education
of
WestmorelandCentralSchoolDistrict
v.
WestmorelandTeacher'sAssociation,
ismisplaced.
See,
Board
of
Education
of
WestmorelandCentralSchoolDistrict
v.
WestmorelandTeacher'sAssociation
58AD2d228(4
th
Dept.1977).Inthatcasethearbitratorhadrenderedafinalandconclusivedecisionontheultimatesubjectmatter
of
thearbitration,buthadmaintainedcontinuingjurisdictionoverafutureschoolyear.
See,id.
TheFourthDepartmentruledthattheentiremattersubmittedtothearbitratorwasfinalanditwasappropriateforthehearingofficertocontinuejurisdiction.
1
Thepetitioners,inignoringtherequirementthatanarbitrator'sawardbeafinaldeterminationuponthemattersubmitted,urgesthisCourttoreviewthearbitrator'sinterim
1
ThisCourtspecificallyrejectstheanalysisintheunreportedcase
of
Jordan-ElbridgeCentralSchoolDistrict
v.
Anonymous,ATenuredTeacher
(RJI33-11-0136)dated2/16/11,asadvocatedbypetitionerswherethecourtruledthatadiscoverydetermination
of
ahearingofficerwasfinalforpurposes
of
anArticle75review.
See,MobilOil,supra.
3

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