The Second Department affirmed Supreme Court’s reinstatement of a charge against a teacher (Hogan) which had been dismissed by the arbitrator. The Second Department explained the criteria for court review of an interlocutory ruling of an arbitrator, noting that more scrutiny is appropriate in an arbitration mandated by statute:
Initially, we reject Hogan’s contention that the petition should have been dismissed because courts do not have the authority to review an interlocutory award dismissing one of the charges in an arbitration proceeding brought pursuant to Education Law 3020-a. As a general rule, a court lacks authority to entertain a petition to review an interlocutory ruling of an arbitrator on a procedural matter … . Here, however, the award sought to be reviewed is not one which involves “only a very limited procedural question” … . Rather, the award dismissed the most serious disciplinary charge preferred against Hogan, and the only one of the three charges which alleged that he was guilty of misconduct. The award is final as to that charge, and, if allowed to stand, would prevent the District from adducing evidence in support of the alleged misconduct at the hearing. Under these circumstances, the award dismissing Charge No. 1 can be viewed as a final determination subject to review under CPLR 7511 … .
Furthermore, the Supreme Court properly granted the District’s petition and reinstated Charge No. 1 against Hogan. Where, as here, the obligation to arbitrate arises through statutory mandate (see Education Law § 3020-a), the arbitrator’s determination is subject to closer judicial scrutiny than it would receive had the arbitration been conducted voluntarily … . The award in a compulsory arbitration proceeding must have evidentiary support and cannot be arbitrary and capricious … . Matter of Board of Educ of Hauppauge Union Free Sch Dist v Hogan, 2013 NY Slip Op 05816, 2nd Dept 9-11-13