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In re Liu

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

June 11, 2013

In re Tina Liu, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
New York City Board/Department of Education, Respondent-Respondent.

Tina Liu, appellant pro se.

Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel, New York (Moon Choi of counsel), for respondent.

Acosta, J.P., Saxe, Moskowitz, Freedman, Manzanet-Daniels, JJ.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Joan B. Lobis, J.), entered February 9, 2012, confirming an arbitration award, dated June 10, 2011, which, following a hearing pursuant to Education Law § 3020-a, found petitioner guilty of certain charges and fined her $12, 500, denying the petition to vacate the award, and dismissing the proceeding, unanimously modified, on the law, to reduce the fine to $1, 250, and otherwise affirmed, without costs.

The record demonstrates that petitioner, who was found to have been negligent in dealing with a stray kitten in her backyard, was afforded due process in a hearing conducted by the Department of Education. We find that the arbitrator, who rejected the charges of intentional misconduct and only found petitioner to have behaved negligently, conducted the hearing in an impartial manner. Since, as the arbitrator found, petitioner has a 15 year unblemished record as a high school teacher and the conduct for which she was charged was completely unrelated to her professional work, we find that the fine imposed is so disproportionate to the offense, in the light of all the circumstances, as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness (see Principe v New York Dept. of Education, 94 A.D.3d 431 [1st Dept 2012]; affd 20 N.Y.3d 963 [2012]; see also Matter of Diefenthaler v Klein, 27 A.D.3d 347 [1st Dept 2006]) and reduce it accordingly.

We have considered petitioner's remaining arguments and find them unavailing.


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