The Second Department, reversing the hearing officer’s ruling terminating petitioner’s employment as a high school principal, determined the hearing officer’s finding that petitioner did not act intentionally was inconsistent with finding petitioner guilty of any of the charges. Petitioner allegedly gave unauthorized credits to students in an effort to increase graduation rates:
… [T]he hearing officer’s finding that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that the petitioner acted intentionally is inconsistent with a finding that the petitioner was guilty of any of the charges. Each of the 41 charges against the petitioner alleged that she knowingly and willfully approved the conferral of credits with full knowledge that such credit was unlawful, as part of an intentional scheme to accelerate credit acquisition in order to artificially inflate graduation rates. Because there was no allegation that the petitioner’s conduct was anything other than knowing and intentional, and because the hearing officer found that there was insufficient evidence that the petitioner acted intentionally, the hearing officer’s determination that the petitioner was guilty of all charges was arbitrary and capricious and without evidentiary support. At the hearing, the petitioner admitted to conduct that was, at most, negligent. There was no evidence to contradict the petitioner’s testimony that she did not act intentionally. Matter of Simpson v Poughkeepsie City Sch. Dist., 2022 NY Slip Op 03730, Second Dept 6-8-22
Practice Point: The high school principal was charged with giving students unauthorized credits to increase graduation rates. All the charges alleged intentional conduct. The hearing officer (correctly) found the principal did not act intentionally, but sustained the charges and terminated her employment. The inconsistency rendered the hearing officer’s ruling in the arbitration arbitrary and capricious.