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Sunday, May 14, 2017

RE: the Appeal of Suzanne Varriale, Who Did Not Testify At Her 3020-a Case

Automatic termination. That's the penalty in any case where the Respondent does not testify.

Why?This leaves no appeal, as an Article 75 Petition filed in the Supreme Court to overturn a 3020-a arbitrator's decision is called. The arbitrator in her case had nothing to look at about whether or not the charges were untrue.

I don't know of any 3020-a decision won by a Respondent(charged employee) who did not testify. All the cases I have show termination.

In the case of J.S., who filed an Article 75 to overturn his arbitrator's decision but he did not testify, New York State Supreme Court Judge Alice Schlesinger reprimanded him for not testifying. She told us that she needed something from the Petitioner at the 3020-a to use if she denied the Corporation Counsel's Motion To Dismiss. I was in her chambers, invited by her after I went with J.S. to his oral argument. She told us that she had to sustain the termination, even though she didn't want to, because J.S. had a witness who testified that he was an excellent teacher. She dismissed the Petition.

In sum, do not go to a 3020-a and not testify. Give your side of the story.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

2017 NY Slip Op 02513

IN RE SUZANNE VARRIALE, Petitioner-Appellant,


CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., Respondents-Respondents.

3572, 652189/14.
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department.
Decided March 30, 2017.
Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Lynn R. Kotler, J.), entered November 10, 2015, which, after a hearing, denied the petition to vacate the determination of respondent New York City Board of Education, dated July 7, 2014, which terminated petitioner's employment as a tenured school teacher, and dismissed the proceeding, unanimously affirmed, without costs. Although petitioner was a thirteen-year employee with no prior disciplinary history, and no charges had ever previously been preferred against her, in light of the seriousness of the allegations herein, the penalty of termination was not shocking to one's sense of fairness (see Altsheler v Board of Educ. of Great Neck Union Free School Dist., 62 NY2d 656, 657 [1984]). The record showed that petitioner strayed from her duties as a school teacher by deliberately escalating a confrontation with a student by yelling expletives and threatening him with violence. Even after security personnel defused the situation by removing the student from the classroom, petitioner subsequently confronted him again, later that day, yelling at least six times that her husband, an armed police officer, would kill him. Petitioner then brought her husband to school the following morning, to the student's scheduled class in the gymnasium, although the student, having been suspended from school, was not there (compare Riley v City of New York, 84 AD3d 442 [1st Dept 2011]). Further, as noted by the hearing officer, had the student been in class that morning, the possibility of violence occurring was very real, and petitioner conveyed a message to other students that she could not rely upon school authorities to control threats of violence against a teacher by a student.
Glass Krakower LLP, New York (Bryan D. Glass of counsel), for appellant.
Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, New York (Kathy Chang Park of counsel), for respondents.
Before: Tom, J.P., Moskowitz, Feinman, Gische, Kapnick, JJ.
Petitioner also showed no remorse nor appreciation for the seriousness of her conduct (see e.g. Matter of Villada v City of New York, 126 AD3d 598, 599 [1st Dept 2015]) to support a finding that she would not engage in similar conduct if faced with such circumstances in the future. Petitioner declined to take the stand, and thus, the hearing officer was permitted to draw the strongest inference against her permitted by the record (Matter of Carangelo v Ambach, 130 AD2d 898, 900 [3d Dept 1987], appeal denied 70 NY2d 609 [1987]).



Anonymous said...

Very sad. Suzanne was an excellent earth science teacher.

FK Lane

Suzanne Varriale said...

Real lesson: hire a real attorney. I was advised not to testify by my appointed attorney - Kathy Battle (the irony of her name is not lost on me).

Betsy Combier said...

In my experience of working with educators and employees of the Department of Education for more than 14 years, if an employee is charged with 3020-a charges and declines to testify, the arbitrator always terminates the employee.

Kathy Battle gave very bad advice to Ms. Varriale.