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Decision No. 13,709

Appeal of LAWRENCE G. CRACCHIOLO from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Utica and Daniel Knoblock regarding the appointment of a coach.

Decision No. 13,709

(December 5, 1996)

James R. Sandner, Esq., New York State United Teachers, attorney for petitioner, Kevin H. Harren, Esq., of counsel

Anthony J. LaFache, Esq., attorney for respondents

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the appointment of respondent Knoblock by respondent board as the boys' varsity ice hockey coach for the 1996-97 season. The appeal must be sustained.

As a preliminary matter, I note that while respondent served its answer on petitioner, it failed to file a copy with my Office of Counsel as required by 8 NYCRR '275.9, despite repeated requests. Petitioner provided my Office of Counsel with a copy of the answer, and its content does not affect the outcome of the appeal. Limiting the facts to those which respondent admits, the appeal must be sustained. However, I admonish respondent for failing to comply with the Commissioner's regulation.

The following facts are uncontested. Petitioner holds permanent New York State certification in special education and is a tenured teacher in respondent board's school district. He has satisfied the interscholastic coaching requirements of 8 NYCRR '135.4(c)(7)(i)(c)(2)(i) and (ii) and served as a wrestling coach during the 1992-93 school year. In March 1996, petitioner applied for the position of boys' varsity ice hockey coach for the 1996-97 school year, indicating that he had coached a youth hockey program for five years. On July 16, 1996, respondent board appointed respondent Knoblock to the position. Knoblock does not possess a valid New York State teaching certificate or temporary coaching license. This appeal ensued. Petitioner's request for interim relief pending a determination on the merits was denied on November 13, 1996.

Petitioner contends that Knoblock's appointment violates Education Law '' 3009(1) and 3010 and Commissioner's regulations '80.18, which limits the employment of uncertified teachers, and '135.4(c)(7)(i)(c), which restricts the appointment of coaches for interscholastic athletic teams.

A similar situation between petitioner and respondent board arose in 1995-96. Petitioner filed a grievance when another individual, not a party to this proceeding, was appointed as assistant varsity boys' ice hockey coach for the 1995-96 school year. At that time, an arbitrator found no violation of the applicable collective bargaining agreement. Respondent contends that the same opinion and decision should apply to petitioner's application for the 1996-97 school year. Respondent further contends that since the coaching position is a part-time position, it is not subject to the same teaching and certification requirements as full-time positions.

8 NYCRR '135.4(c)(7)(i)(c) restricts the appointment of coaches for interscholastic athletic teams. Specifically, certified physical education teachers may coach any sport, and teachers certified in other areas with coaching qualifications and experience may coach provided they complete certain first aid and course requirements. Also, a board of education may employ uncertified persons with coaching qualifications and experience as temporary coaches of interschool sport teams, but only when certified physical education teachers or certified teachers with coaching qualifications and experience are not available. Uncertified persons must first obtain from the Commissioner a temporary coaching license.

Under these provisions, Knoblock, who is not a certified teacher, could be appointed as a temporary coach only if he had a temporary license and either (a) a certified physical education teacher was not available or (b) a teacher certified in another area but with coaching qualifications and experience was not available. This is not the case. Petitioner Cracchiolo -- a certified teacher with coaching qualifications and experience -- applied for the position. Moreover, Knoblock does not have a temporary coaching license. Accordingly, respondent's appointment of Knoblock violated the Commissioner's regulation governing the appointment of coaches for interscholastic athletic teams.

Respondent's reliance on the arbitrator's decision from the previous year is misplaced. While the arbitrator found that respondent did not violate the collective bargaining agreement by refusing to appoint petitioner to the position, he noted that the issue raised in this case -- on whether a certified teacher applicant must be appointed over an uncertified candidate -- lies with the Commissioner of Education.

In conclusion, I find that respondent board's appointment of respondent Knoblock violates law and must be nullified.

THE APPEAL IS SUSTAINED.

IT IS ORDERED that the appointment of Daniel Knoblock by the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Utica as the coach of the 1996-97 varsity boys' ice hockey team is nullified effective immediately.

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