MICKELSON ST. CYR, Petitioner,
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Respondent. Index No. 103563/12
Peter H. Moulton, Justice
Petitioner in this Article 78 _____challenges the decision of respondent Department of Education ("DOE") to permanently revoke his school bus driving certificate. He seeks to be removed from the list of ineligible drivers . kept by the DOE. Respondent moves to dismiss the petition.
The petition alleges that petitioner Mickelson St. Cyr began working as a school bus driver in 1995. Beginning in 2006 he worked for Brothers Transportation, a private bus company that contracts with the DOE. In the 2011-12 school year, St. Cyr was assigned a bus route in Queens which included driving special needs children.
On December 19, 2011, St. Cyr was driving his bus to JHS 190 when one of his passengers, a ten year old girl referred to as "Student A" in the petition to protect her privacy, began to act out. According to the petition, a school matron on the bus, Marthe Joseph, attempted without success to get Student A to behave properly. The petition alleges that despite Ms.' Joseph's efforts Student A "continued to act in an aggressive and physical manner" with the other students.
The petition alleges that at one point St. Cyr stopped the bus and directed Student A to move her seat and put on her seat belt. Student A refused. St. Cyr states that he never touched Student A.
Student A allegedly called her mother from the bus, and told her that St. Cyr had grabbed her arm and left a bruise. Student A's mother reported this incident to DOE.
Soon thereafter, St. Cyr was suspended from his job on the strength of Student A's mother's complaint. DOE's Office of Pupil Transportation ("OPT") conducted an investigation. After speaking to petitioner, Student A, Student A's mother, Ms. Joseph, and several students, OPT determined that St. Cyr had grabbed Student A by the arm and forcibly dragged her to the front of the bus.
On January 12, 2012, DOE informed petitioner that it had revoked his certification to drive a school bus.
Petitioner appealed this decision. A Disciplinary Appeal Conference was held on March 14, 2012 pursuant to Chancellor's Regulation C-100. Petitioner was represented at this hearing by counsel. Two witnesses testified: petitioner and the OPT investigator who investigated the incident. OPT also introduced other witness statements and photographs of Student A's arm. Petitioner did not call any witnesses beside himself or submit any documents into evidence.
In a written Conference Report, the hearing officer who presided at the Conference sustained the revocation of petitioner's certification. Petitioner was placed on an "Ineligible List, " which prevents him from becoming a bus driver for DOE in the future. The petition states that Brothers Transportation terminated his employment.
The petition asserts that the Hearing Officers' decision was not supported by substantial evidence. However, the First Department has held that the substantial evidence standard is not applicable to decisions made after Disciplinary Appeal Conferences held pursuant to Chancellor's Regulation C-100. (Matter of Duncan v. Klein, 38 A.D.3d 38 0.) Instead, such decisions are reviewed under the arbitrary and capricious standard of review. Id. Under that standard, a Court's inquiry is limited to whether the agency acted rationally. (E.g.. Matter of Pell v Board of Education of the Onion Free School District I, 34 N.Y.2d 222.) A court may not substitute it's judgment for that of the agency, and the- ...