Determining an educator's seniority for the purposes of layoff and reinstatement from a preferred list Donna Marsico v Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Mount Vernon, Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision #16,158 Donna Marsico was appointed to a probationary appointment as a teacher of business education, effective February 1, 1989. Her position was abolished in 1990 and her name was placed on a preferred list. Marsico was subsequently appointed as a business education teacher in the district, effective September 1, 1993 and was granted tenure, effective September 1, 1994. On September 24, 2008, the board established a preferred eligibility list and Marisco was listed as the most senior business education teacher. Marsico was then told that her position was abolished for budgetary reasons effective October 3, 2008. As the result of an "opinion letter" from the New York State United Teachers dated June 24, 2009, the board rescinded the September 24, 2008 seniority list and established a new seniority list with Concetta Fantini listed as the most senior business education teacher. In September 2009, Fantini was reinstated from the reconstituted preferred list to a business education position with the district. When Marisco sued in Supreme Court, Westchester County, challenging Fantini's appointment the court "issued a stay" on the proceeding to permit Marisco to appeal to the Commissioner. In her appeal to the Commissioner Marisco claimed that she was "continuously employed as a tenured business education teacher from 1993 until her layoff in October 2008, rendering her the most senior business education teacher and eligible for the first recall from the preferred eligibility list." The school board, on the other hand, argued that Marisco "cannot claim seniority credit for years served in a non-tenure track position that does not require a teaching certificate. Therefore, such service is not "service in the system" as required under Education Law §2510(3) for purposes of recall rights." The Commissioner found that, based Marisco employment record, she served as an adult education teacher in a distance-learning program from September 1, 1993 through the 2006-2007 school year. Accordingly, said the Commissioner, "Since none of the tenure areas prescribed in Subpart 30-1 of the Rules of the Board Regents relate to teachers of adult education and there is no teaching certificate required for such position, I find that [Marisco's] service as an adult education teacher was in a non-tenure track position and cannot be considered for purposes of recall rights," citing Appeal of Thomas, Commissioner's Decision #13,275. Further, said the Commissioner, "It is well settled that for purposes of determining the recall rights of teachers on a preferred eligibility list, length of service in the system is used, not length of service within a particular tenure area," citing Mahony v. Bd. of Educ. of Mahopac Cent. School Dist., 140 AD2d 33, appeal denied 73 NY2d 703. As to what is considered "length of service in the system," the Commissioner concluded that the phrase "length of service in the system" means length of service as a professional educator as defined in §30-1.1 of the Commissioner's regulations. Accordingly, said the Commissioner, Marisco's service from September 1, 1993 until the 2006-2007 school year was not in a tenure-bearing position and, therefore, cannot be counted as "service in the system" for purposes of recall rights under Education Law §2510(3). However, the Commissioner said that although he was "constrained to dismiss this appeal," he noted that "the board lacked the authority to grant [Marisco] tenure in the business education tenure area for her service as an adult education teacher" and said that the board must follow "all pertinent provisions of the Civil Service Law, Education Law §2510 and Part 30 of Rules of the Board of Regents" in this regard. NYPPL Comments: §80 of the Civil Service Law, which applies to individuals in the competitive class, provides, in pertinent part, that layoffs "shall be made in the inverse order of original appointment on a permanent basis in the classified service in the service of the governmental jurisdiction in which such abolition or reduction of positions occurs." In contrast to "service in the system" within the meaning of §30-1.1 of the Commissioner's Regulations, for the purposes of §80 of the Civil Service Law, once having attained permanent status an employee's "seniority" is not truncated should he or she subsequently be appointed as a provisional employee or temporary employee or to a position in the exempt, noncompetitive or labor class or to a position in the unclassified service. In the words of the statute, "A period of employment on a temporary or provisional basis, or in the unclassified service, immediately preceded and followed by permanent service in the classified service, shall not constitute an interruption of continuous service for the purposes of this section; nor shall a period of leave of absence without pay pursuant to law or the rules of the civil service commission having jurisdiction, or any period during which an employee is suspended from his position pursuant to this section, constitute an interruption of continuous service for the purposes of this section." Further, seniority is measured from the individual's effective date of initial, uninterrupted, permanent appointment and not from the date he or she attained tenure in such position. §80.2 of the Civil Service Law measures "continuous service" from the individual's date of his or her first appointment on a permanent basis in the classified service followed by continuous service in the classified service on a permanent basis up to the time of the abolition or reduction of the competitive class position. Further, an employee who has resigned and who has been reinstated or reappointed in the service within one year thereafter shall, for the purposes of such section, be deemed to have continuous service. §80-a of the Civil Service Law, which applies to employees of the State as an employer, provides similar protection for those State employees serving in a position in the non-competitive class. The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume50/d16158.htm ============================================ If you are interested in learning more about layoff procedures involving employees in the public service in New York State please click here: http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/ ============================================ NYPPL
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