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Jeffrey v. Walcott

Supreme Court of New York, New York County

July 15, 2013

Leslie JEFFREY, Petitioner(s),
v.
Dennis M. WALCOTT, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education, the New York City Department of Education, and Cassandra Hundley, Principal, PS 38Q, Respondent(s). No. 100068/13.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a table in the New York Supplement.

MANUEL J. MENDEZ, J.

Upon a reading of the foregoing cited papers, it is ordered and adjudged that this Article 78 Petition is granted. Respondents' Cross-Motion is denied.

In this Article 78 Proceeding, Petitioner seeks a judgment annulling and rescinding Respondent's, the New York City Department of Education (" DOE" ), determination, compelling the DOE to expunge their files, and an award of back pay and other benefits lost.

Petitioner has been employed by the DOE as a paraprofessional since 2009. At all times relevant, Petitioner was assigned to a 2nd grade special education class.

On March 20, 2012, Petitioner received a letter from Respondent Cassandra Hundley (" Principal Hundley" ) scheduling an appointment to investigate an allegation of corporal punishment.

On March 30, 2012, Petitioner met with Principal Hundley to discuss the allegations. At the meeting, Principal Hundley informed Petitioner that the mother of one of the students in Petitioner's class had alleged that Petitioner had pulled the student (" T.M." ) by his neck and shoulders, pulled his clothing, and pushed him on his back.

Principal Hundley also showed Petitioner handwritten statements' from eight other students, supposedly regarding Petitioner's interaction(s) with T.M.

Petitioner denied the allegations of corporal punishment.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Principal Hundley notified Petitioner that she was going to refer the allegations to the DOE's Office of Special Investigations (" OSI" ).

Petitioner submitted a written response to Principal Hundley wherein she again refuted the allegations.

From when the allegations were first received, Principal Hundley told Petitioner that she was not to be around children. Despite this statement, Principal Hundley kept assigning Petitioner to tasks that involved interaction with children. Sometime in April 2012, Petitioner was assigned to replace another paraprofessional in a 2nd grade class. Petitioner remained in that 2nd grade class until the conclusion of the 2012 school year.

At the conclusion of the 2012 school year, Principal Hundley informed Petitioner that DOE's OSI had not rendered a decision regarding the allegations of corporal punishment. The record before this Court contains no information about any investigation or determination by DOE's OSI.

In a letter dated September 4, 2012 (the " Suspension Letter" ), Principal Hundley informed Petitioner that, " [Principal Hundley] investigated the complaint made by [T.M.]. The investigation included [Principal Hundley's] discussion with [T.M.'s mother], interviews with students in [Petitioner's] class who wrote witness statements, and Mrs. Gassman, teacher."

In the Suspension Letter, Principal Hundley stated that, " I have evaluated all of the investigatory results, including your response at our March 30, 2012 meeting and conclude that after completing the investigation, a specific date of occurrence could not be determined. I also could not determine whether or not you have pulled [T.M.] by the his neck or shoulders, or pushed him on his back [as his mother alleged]. However based on statements made by some of ...


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