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School Board Takes Aggressive Post on Board Member Misconduct - Colleagues, District Staff, Students, and Families Deserve Better | Harris Beach PLLC

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Three recent decisions by the school board show a growing lack of tolerance for misconduct by board members.

A director who violates the oath of office, code of conduct or ethics, or otherwise commits misconduct may be expelled from the school board in one of two ways.

Removed by school board

If it is established to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that a board member has engaged in willful breach or neglect of, or willful failure to comply with, any duty under the New York Education Act, the board member shall be subject to section 306 of the New York Education Act. You may be dismissed. Board or school board decisions, orders, rules or regulations; To be considered willful, a board member’s actions must be willful and have a nefarious purpose. School district residents are entitled to appeal to the Commissioner seeking the removal of a committee member.

Expulsion by the Board of Education

Pursuant to New York Education Law § 1709(18), the Board of Education has the power and duty to remove any member of the board for official misconduct. “Official misconduct” means misconduct clearly related to the official duties of a board member due to the unauthorized exercise of board member authority or willful failure to exercise authority to the detriment of the school district. It’s an act. Education Act § 1709(18) does not impose a time limit within which a charge of misconduct must be brought against a board member.

A director who is removed from office shall be ineligible for appointment or election to district office for one year from the date of removal.

Williams charmDec. 18,116 (May 2, 2022)

of Williams charm, Board Member, served on the Greenburg Central School District Board of Education from July 2002 until his dismissal in June 2021. The alleged charges are: Disclosure of Confidential Information from Executive Sessions. Disclosure of Students’ Personally Identifiable Information. Patterns and practices that attack board colleagues and disrupt the board. Violation of officers’ codes of conduct and rules.

The hearing will begin in April 2021 before the Hearing Officers and will conclude in May 2021. Several board members said the practice of board members cursing, verbally abusing and insulting their colleagues, and monopolizing the board made it “impossible” to perform its functions. I testified that I became The hearing officer found that the actions of the board member “obstructed and compromised the hearing.” [b]Old effectiveness and ability to function. The board adopted the findings and dismissed board members.

A former Board member contested the dismissal and the Commissioner dismissed the appeal. The commissioner found that the district presented sufficient evidence to support the removal of a board member based on his pattern and practice of attacking board colleagues and disrupting board operations. said the former director’s behavior “is emblematic of the disrespect that has disrupted the school community in recent times. His colleagues, district officials, and students and their families deserve better.”

The Commissioner said: For generations to come, we all need to look within ourselves, reflect on our actions, and ask ourselves if we are setting an example for our children to follow. “

The charm of CorbiaDecision No. 18,092 (28 February 2022)

of The charm of Corbia, was elected as a board member in June 2020 to serve a three-year term on the Board of Education of the Port Chester Rye Union Free School District. In September 2020, there were two posts of him on his Facebook as a board member. The original post was posted by another individual, but was “shared” by a board member and referred to “illegal immigration.” Her second, commented by a board member with approval, referred to a “white privilege card.” A board member claimed that her Facebook account had been hacked, but refused to cooperate with the board’s investigation.

The board has indicted board members on five counts of official misconduct and asked for their removal. These counts centered on two of her wrongdoings: (1) refused to participate in, and actively obstructed, the Commission’s investigation; (2) Disclosing confidential information to attorneys in the form of unredacted Ethics Committee reports; The hearing officer upheld the charges and recommended the removal of the directors. The board adopted the findings and dismissed board members.

A former Board member contested the dismissal and the Commissioner dismissed the appeal. She confirmed the board’s decision to accuse board members of failing to cooperate with the investigation and impeding the objectives of the investigation. agreed with the Hearing Officer’s analysis of the course of action of the Board members assigned to it.[ing] Investigation directed and approved by the Board of Education….” The board found that a board member intentionally exercised power to harm the school district and therefore removal for formal misconduct was appropriate. Did.

Ziegelbauer’s appealDecision No. 18,143 (7 July 2022)

of The charm of Ziegelbauer, Tuxedo Union Free School District dismissed a director for disclosing confidential information as part of official misconduct under Education Act § 1709(18). During his session with the executive, members of the Board of Directors and their colleagues received copies of confidential reports. The superintendent instructed board members to return their reports before the board meeting was over. The confidential report concerned an alleged breach of student information and included information about the children of board members. Board members decided to keep the report after contacting her attorney.

The Commissioner said that a board member holding confidential reports that she had access to because of her role as a board member was a misconduct committed in her capacity as a school official, and was quintessential “official malfeasance.” I agree that it is an act. She said board members “have a fiduciary duty to act constructively to achieve the best possible governance of the school district.” He was in violation of the Superintendent’s instructions for retaining the confidential report.

To deny the willful thinking, the Commissioner explained that the thinking only related to the dismissal of school officials under Section 306 of the Education Act, and rejected the board member’s justification for relying on the advice of counsel. The Commissioner explained that there is no formal misconduct attitude requirement under § 1709(18) of the Education Act. The Commissioner further noted that official misconduct under Education Act § 1709(18) does not rely on violations of statutes or district policy.

Key points and practice points

  • Review the district’s Code of Conduct and Ethics to ensure that they address the conduct of Board members and employees as deemed appropriate. Ensure that officers and employees are aware of such requirements.
  • Provide ethics and governance training to boards and others as needed.
  • We will take appropriate measures to deal with the misconduct of our officers and employees. If you have a specific problem, you should consult an attorney if necessary.