In June of 2015, a CAS member was denied tenure and terminated from employment. The member was a building principal which meant that he was subject to Education Law Section 3012-c which requires that all APPR evaluations of a candidate for tenure be used as a “significant factor” by the Board of Education in making their decision. The principal’s composite ratings for all three years of his probationary period had been Highly Effective, yet he was denied tenure. Therefore, on the advice of CAS counsel, the Principal requested a written statement of the reasons for his termination from the Board and once they were received, the CAS attorney, Michael Starvaggi, challenged the matter in court.
He argued that all of the reasons for termination given by the Board related to the principal’s performance and that such performance had been rated as Highly Effective in the APPR evaluations throughout the principal’s probationary period. Therefore, the principal’s evaluations had clearly not been used as a “significant factor” in the Board’s decision to deny tenure, contravening the statute.
The judge agreed, finding that the Board did not adequately prove that it took the principal’s APPR evaluations into consideration in denying tenure. However, the judge stopped short of nullifying the termination and granting reinstatement. Instead, he sent the matter back to the Board to “reformulate” the reasons they gave for denying tenure. The reformulated reasons, he stated, must comply with the statutory obligation to use the APPR evaluations as a “significant factor” in the tenure decision.
It is important to note that the judge was enforcing a procedural mandate here, i.e. that the Board must demonstrate that it went about its decision-making properly. If the Board can demonstrate that, in good faith, it took the APPR evaluations into consideration, the denial of tenure might stand. However, it is now up to the Board to demonstrate exactly why, notwithstanding the three Highly Effective ratings, they believe this principal’s performance is not worthy of tenure. And if they cannot do so, we will continue to litigate.
CAS is and will remain vigilant in this case and all others to enforce every claim we can on behalf of our membership. We will update you on the progress of this matter.