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Decision No. 13,958

Appeal of EDWARD J. REILLY from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Mount Vernon regarding a deputy superintendent contract.

Decision No. 13,958

(June 15, 1998)

Aiello & Cannick, attorneys for respondent, Devereaux L. Cannick, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner, Deputy Superintendent of the City School District of the City of Mount Vernon ("the district"), challenges actions of the district’s board of education ("respondent") rescinding the extension of his contract. The appeal must be sustained.

On June 12, 1997, respondent approved resolution 97-202, which provided in pertinent part:

That the appointment of Dr. Edward J. Reilly, Deputy Superintendent of Schools of the City School District of Mount Vernon, New York, is hereby extended to June 30, 2000.

A contract dated June 17, 1997 and signed by petitioner and respondent's president indicates that "[t]he Deputy Superintendent's appointment shall commence on July 1, 1997 and shall extend for a period of three years, ending June 30, 2000." On July 1, 1997, respondent approved a resolution rescinding petitioner's contract extension. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that during his three years as Deputy Superintendent of respondent's school district he has served under a written contract. He maintains that his contract and its extension are valid and asks me to order the board to withdraw its motion rescinding it.

Respondent contends that under Education Law ' 2507 a board of a small city school district may not enter into a written contract with a superintendent or deputy superintendent, thereby making both the contract and its extension invalid. Respondent also contends that the June 12, 1997 actions of the previous board were contrary to public policy -- that New York courts have held that municipal and governmental boards are not able to bind their successors to long-term contractual provisions.

Education Law ' 2507(1), upon which respondent relies, provides that a superintendent or associate superintendent in a small city school district holds his position at the pleasure of the board, except that a superintendent may be appointed for up to five years, and provided that any contractual provisions between the superintendent and the board relating to salary or benefits not be tied to any contracts or collective bargaining agreements with other district employees. Respondent argues that this section precludes a board of a small city school district from contracting with a superintendent or an associate superintendent and contends that "this clearly applies to deputy-superintendents."

I disagree. Subdivision 2 of ' 2507, which deals with certification, specifically refers to deputy superintendents and other superintendents of schools. This is a strong indication that subdivision 1 of ' 2507, which only refers to superintendents and associate superintendents was not intended to be applicable to deputy superintendents. Furthermore, Education Law ' 2509(3) authorizes a board in a small city school district to contract with "other superintendents of schools," which would include a deputy superintendent, for a period from one to five years. Thus, respondent has cited no persuasive reason why petitioner's contract or its extension are invalid.

Respondent also argues that the extension of petitioner’s appointment was contrary to public policy. There is venerable authority for the proposition that municipal and governmental boards should not be able to bind their successors to long-term contractual provisions (Abrams v. Horton, 18 AD 208; Connelly v. Commissioner, 32 Misc. 489; Vacheron v. City of New York, 34 Misc. 420; Mack v. Mayor, 37 Misc. 371), and the principle has been applied to school districts (Ferkin v. Board of Educ., 253 AD 751, rev'd on other grounds, 278 NY 263; Harrison Central School Dist. v Nyquist, 83 Misc. 2d 1042, aff'd, 59 AD2d 434). However, the courts have long recognized an exception where a specific statutory provision authorizes a long-term contractual arrangement (see, e.g., Murphy v. Erie County, 60 Misc. 2d 954, 34 AD2d 295, 28 NY2d 80). Education Law ' 2509(3) is such a provision. Indeed, every time a board enters into a multi-year contract pursuant to that provision, it necessarily binds successor boards.

While I am constrained to recognize the legality of the eleventh hour extension voted by the former board in this matter, I do not endorse the wisdom of its action, which does not inspire voter confidence in school officials.

THE APPEAL IS SUSTAINED.

IT IS ORDERED that petitioner's contract is in effect through June 30, 2000.

END OF FILE