On or about January 22, 1985, Mt. Sinai and Port Jefferson entered into a six year "tuition contract," by which Mt. Sinai agreed to continue to send all their 10th, 11th and 12th grade school children to Port Jefferson. Mt. Sinai was to pay Port Jefferson increasing tuition rates, beginning for the 1985-86 school year, $ 4,362.00 per student, up to $ 4,991.00 per student for the 1990-91 school year.
Subsequently, on or about June 26, 1987, the New York State Commissioner of Education voided the sixth year (1990-91) of the tuition contract, determining in an administrative proceeding that § 2040 only permits private parties to enter tuition contracts lasting up to five years. Throughout the life of the contract, Mt. Sinai's high school age population was growing, while Port Jefferson's high school age population was shrinking. Thus, by the 1983-84 school year, over one half of the high school students attending the Port Jefferson High School were from Mt. Sinai.
Plaintiffs allege that despite the fact that Mt. Sinai students represented more than one half of Port Jefferson's high school population, the Port Jefferson School Board and Magnarella refused any input from Mt. Sinai or its School Board with respect to decisions affecting the education of Mt. Sinai students. Additionally, plaintiffs claim that Mt. Sinai students were discriminated against as a group in the Port Jefferson school system. Plaintiffs further allege that the Port Jefferson School Board and Magnarella were made aware of this discrimination yet refused to investigate or correct the situation.
During this time period, the New York State Department of Education and other agencies recommended that merger of the two school districts might present the best solution to the controversy that was developing between the two districts. Plaintiffs allege that while they supported such a course of action, Port Jefferson rejected the proposed merger. Partially as a result of Port Jefferson's refusal of the merger proposal, Mt. Sinai announced that it would pursue the option of building its own high school so that it could terminate its relationship with Port Jefferson.
On or about December 13, 1988, the residents of Mt. Sinai approved the construction of the new high school. Sometime in 1989, construction contracts went forward and Mt. Sinai projected that the high school would be completed in time for the 1992-93 school year. Thus, Mt. Sinai still needed to make some provision for the continuing education of its high school students for the two school years 1990-91 and 1991-92, years which were not encompassed by either the 1985 tuition contract with Port Jefferson, or the anticipated completion date of its own high school.
On or about January of 1989, the Mt. Sinai School Board and the Port Jefferson School Board, in part through its superintendent, reached an agreement in principle as to a new tuition contract to cover the two school years. However, plaintiffs allege that despite repeated demands that the final revised version of the contract be delivered for execution, the contract was never delivered or reduced to writing. One of the terms agreed to in principle was that Mt. Sinai would offer up to fifteen teaching slots to teachers from the Port Jefferson school district, as long as Mt. Sinai could hire the individuals it thought were best qualified for the positions.
While Mt. Sinai was waiting to receive the contract, Port Jefferson School Board and its superintendent and the New York State United Teachers, initiated and guided legislation, which eventually became Education Law § 3014-c.
This legislation essentially protects the tenure and other rights of teachers in situations where a school district "takes back" its tuition students, from what was deemed to be the "receiving district." The statute provides that where the "sending district" assumes the education of students formerly provided by a receiving district,
each teacher employed by the receiving district in the education of such children at the time of such take back by the sending district shall be considered an employee of such sending district with the same tenure status he or she maintained in the receiving district.