CAS WINS WATERSHED DECISION:

APPR STATUTE REQUIRES REINSTATEMENT OF TERMINATED PRINCIPALS

CAS has prevailed in a major New York State Supreme Court case which held that the Hempstead School District violated Section 3012-c of the Education Law by terminating three probationary principals who had not been evaluated under APPR.  This case is the first one of its kind in New York and sets a significant legal precedent that will protect our members and all building principals throughout the State.

The CAS members involved in this case were probationary principals who were terminated during the 2012-13 school year despite the fact that the district had failed to perform APPR evaluations on them.  CAS argued that, under the APPR statute, the annual evaluation must be used as “a significant factor for employment decisions” made by the District “including but not limited to . . . tenure determination [and] termination.”  Because no evaluations were done, CAS argued, it is impossible that the District could have used APPR as a significant factor in its decision to terminate the petitioners.  The District countered with several arguments, including the assertion that the petitioners would not have gotten tenure even if they had been given formal evaluations and that the timing of the state and local test score results made it impossible for them to have complied with the statute.

The Court found that the District had no legal defense for terminating the principals, stating that  “impossibility is not a defense to a statutory mandate.”

Agreeing with CAS’s arguments, the Court stated, “since Education Law § 3012-c requires that APPRs shall be a `significant factor’ in employment decisions, [the School District’s] failure to make any attempt to conduct the requisite APPRs for petitioners . . .  is violative of the statute and renders their terminations null and void.”

CAS is happy to report that these three members are to be reinstated to their positions as principals and given proper evaluations as required by law.

In its Memorandum of Law, CAS argued that the new APPR statute “is a sword by which longstanding tenure rights were compromised and is also a shield which requires school districts to take APPR evaluations into consideration in employment decisions including termination.”  The New York State Court has agreed with us and, as stated above, this precedent will change the traditional rules regarding probationary appointments and help us to protect principals statewide.

CAS has a longstanding track record of being at the forefront in protecting the legal rights of our members. We are proud to continue this tradition and assure our members that we will remain vigilant on your behalf.