Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re DeVera

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

June 8, 2017

In the Matter of ELAINE DeVERA, Individually and as Parent and Guardian of M.F., an Infant, et al., Petitioners,
v.
MARYELLEN ELIA, as Commissioner of Education, et al., Respondents. and SUSANA TAVERAS, Individually and as Parent and Guardian of K.R.R., an Infant, et al., Appellants,

          Calendar Date: May 1, 2017

          Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP, New York City (Steven L. Holley of counsel) and Emily A. Kim, Success Academy Charter Schools, New York City, for appellants.

          Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, Albany (Zainab Chaudhry of counsel), for Maryellen Elia, respondent.

          Zachary Carter, Corporation Counsel, New York City (Ingrid R. Gustafson of counsel), for New York City Department of Education and another, respondents.

          Jones Day, New York City (Victoria Dorfman of counsel), for Achievement First and others, amici curiae.

          Before: McCarthy, J.P., Rose, Devine, Clark and Mulvey, JJ.

          McCarthy, J.P.

         Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court (Elliott III, J.), entered June 17, 2016 in Albany County, which dismissed petitioners' application, in a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78, to review a determination of respondent Commissioner of Education partially dismissing petitioners' challenge to certain conditions imposed upon their receipt of certain state funds.

         In March 2014, the Legislature amended article 73 of the Education Law to add section 3602-ee, thereby establishing a statewide universal full-day prekindergarten program (hereinafter the SUFDPK program) (see Education Law § 3602-ee). The Legislature's stated purpose of the SUFDPK "program is to incentivize and fund state-of-the-art innovative pre[]kindergarten programs and to encourage program creativity through competition" (Education Law § 3602-ee [1]). Under the SUFDPK program, funds may be awarded either to school districts that have submitted "consolidated" applications to the New York State Department of Education (hereinafter the Department) on behalf of specified entities, including charter schools, that are located within the school districts or to individual entities that have been denied inclusion in their respective school districts' consolidated applications and have submitted applications to the Department directly (Education Law § 3602-ee [3] [a], [b]). The statute requires the Department to award funds on a competitive basis and evaluate applications based on the proposed programs' quality in terms of "curriculum, " "learning environment, materials and supplies, " "family engagement, " "staffing patterns, " "teacher education and experience, " "facility, " "physical well-being, health and nutrition" and "partnerships with non-profit, community and educational institutions" (Education Law § 3602-ee [2]; see Education Law § 3602-ee [5]).

         In May 2014, pursuant to Education Law § 3602-ee, the Department released an "Announcement of Funding Opportunity" or Request for Proposals soliciting applications from relevant entities operating prekindergarten programs during the 2014-2015 school year. In July 2014, respondent New York City Department of Education (hereinafter DOE) submitted a consolidated application to the Department, seeking $300 million from the state to fund over 50, 000 full-day prekindergarten slots during the 2014-2015 school year and an additional 20, 000 slots during the 2015-2016 school year. DOE's application was thereafter granted by the Department. In December 2014, DOE released a Request for Proposals (hereinafter DOE's RFP) soliciting applications from charter schools interested in providing prekindergarten programs during the 2015-2016 school year. DOE's RFP provided that DOE was seeking charter schools that were "willing to collaborate with" it, and it set forth detailed requirements and expectations for the proposed programs. DOE's RFP also provided that funding awards were subject to execution of a contract between DOE and the selected applicants and that "no payments [would] be made by... DOE until the contract is registered with the [New York City] Comptroller's Office."

         In January 2015, petitioner Success Academy Charter Schools-NYC (hereinafter Success Academy), a nonprofit education corporation operating and governing charter schools in New York City, submitted applications to DOE on behalf of three of its charter schools for funding to provide prekindergarten instruction during the 2015-2016 school year. In March 2015, DOE advised Success Academy that its proposed prekindergarten programs at the three schools were "conditionally eligible for" funding awards and that its receipt of funding was contingent upon timely completion of contract negotiations and timely submission of contract documents. DOE thereafter sent Success Academy three proposed contracts with substantially identical provisions - one for each school (hereinafter collectively referred to as the Pre-K contract). The provisions of the Pre-K contract set forth various requirements, beyond those provided by statute or regulation, with respect to various aspects of the prekindergarten programing and operations. Thereafter, the three Success Academy charter schools commenced their respective prekindergarten programs without executing the Pre-K contract.

         Success Academy informed DOE that it would not execute the Pre-K contract because the contract permitted respondent Board of Education of the School District of the City of New York (hereinafter the Board) to regulate every aspect of its prekindergarten programs, thereby violating Education Law § 3602-ee (12), which Success Academy alleged granted charter entities exclusive authority to oversee and regulate prekindergarten programs offered at charter schools [1]. Success Academy also sought the removal of the allegedly unlawful provisions. After Success Academy submitted invoices to DOE, detailing the number of students enrolled in each prekindergarten program and the amount of funding allegedly due from DOE, DOE declined to make any payment and reiterated that DOE could not provide funding to Success Academy until the Pre-K contract was executed. DOE also maintained that it was authorized by the Education Law to enter into any contracts necessary to implement its prekindergarten plans (see generally Education Law §§ 3602-e [5] [d]; 3602-ee [7]) and that DOE had broad power under Education Law § 3602-ee to oversee all of the prekindergarten programs that were included in DOE's consolidated application.

         Subsequently, petitioners - Success Academy and certain parents whose children were enrolled in Success Academy's prekindergarten programs for the 2015-2016 school year - appealed DOE's decision to respondent Commissioner of Education, seeking an order declaring that the Pre-K contract was unlawful and compelling DOE to remit payments of funds to Success Academy (see Education Law § 310). The Commissioner, relying on Education Law § 3602-ee, explicitly rejected petitioners' argument that DOE lacked the authority to "regulate... [the] program requirements" of Success Academy's prekindergarten programs, as DOE had done by way of the Pre-K Contract. The Commissioner further found that, although some provisions of the Pre-K contract were unlawful, Success Academy was properly required to execute the Pre-K contract as a condition to receiving funds from DOE [2]. Petitioners then commenced this proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 seeking to annul so much of the Commissioner's determination as found that Success Academy was properly required to execute the Pre-K contract as a condition to receiving funds from DOE and seeking an order that the Pre-K contract was illegal and that DOE was obligated to fund Success Academy's prekindergarten programs. Supreme Court dismissed the petition, and petitioners now appeal. [3]

         As to the Commissioner's determination, rendered without a hearing, this Court's "review is limited to whether [the] determination was arbitrary and capricious, irrational, affected by an error of law or an abuse of discretion" (Matter of Nicholson v Appeals Bd. of Admin. Adjudication Bur., 135 A.D.3d 1224, 1225 [2016] [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]; see CPLR 7803 [3]; Matter of Kittle v D'Amico, 141 A.D.3d 991, 992 [2016], lv denied28 N.Y.3d 911');">28 N.Y.3d 911 [2017]). Thus, we address petitioners' contention that the Commissioner's determination was affected by an error of law inasmuch as the Commissioner interpreted Education Law ยง 3602-ee as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.