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Decision No. 15,852

Appeal of CAROL D. NOLETT from action of the Board of Education of the Greater Johnstown City School District regarding abolition of a position.

Decision No. 15,582

(December 12, 2008)

Tabner, Ryan and Keniry, LLP, attorneys for petitioner, Tracy L. Bullett, Esq., of counsel

Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Kristen Amodeo Lanchantin, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the termination of her services by the Board of Education of the Greater Johnstown City School District (“respondent” or “board”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner has been a teacher in the Greater Johnstown City School District since 1990, when she received a probationary appointment in the tenure area of remedial reading.  In 1993 she was granted tenure in the tenure area of remedial reading, and served in that tenure area without interruption until June 25, 2008.  She states that since 2000, she has been teaching “Remedial Reading - Academic Intervention Services.”

Petitioner alleges that during the 2007-2008 school year, she and three other teachers taught Remedial Reading - Academic Intervention Services (“AIS”).  Petitioner and one other teacher held tenure in the remedial reading area, while the two others held tenure in the elementary tenure area.  She states: “All four (4) teachers have taught in the same tenure area - Remedial Reading – AIS Reading while employed by the Greater Johnstown City School District.”  Petitioner claims that of the four teachers in the “tenure area,” she has more seniority than two others.  She alleges that one teacher, Rebecca Voudry, has taught AIS for only five and one-half years, while the other teacher, Ann Ashworth, has taught AIS for only three years.  Both Voudry and Ashworth have tenure in the elementary tenure area.

On June 25, 2008, the board voted to abolish one position in the tenure area of remedial reading, and identified petitioner as the teacher with the least seniority in that tenure area.

Petitioner alleges that her seniority was incorrectly calculated and that she has greater seniority than either Voudry or Ashworth.  She asks that she be reinstated as a full-time tenured teacher in the tenure area of remedial reading.

Respondent denies any error in calculating petitioner’s seniority, and points out that petitioner has tenure in the area of remedial reading, while Voudry and Ashworth have tenure in the elementary tenure area, and that there is no such tenure area as “Remedial Reading – Academic Intervention Services.”  Respondent describes AIS as neither a subject nor a tenure area, but a program “for extra help that addresses many subjects, such as math, science, social studies and writing, in addition to reading.”  Respondent alleges that petitioner only taught reading within that program.  Respondent also asserts several affirmative defenses, including petitioner’s failure to name and serve Voudry and Ashworth as respondents in this appeal.

This appeal was commenced July 22, 2008, and interim relief was denied on July 31, 2008.

The appeal must be dismissed for failure to join necessary parties.  A party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of a petitioner is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of Samuel, 45 Ed Dept Rep 418, Decision No. 15,371; Appeal of Meringolo, 45 id. 128, Decision No. 15,281; Appeal of Kelly, 45 id. 38, Decision No. 15,253).  Joinder requires that an individual be clearly named as a respondent in the caption and served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition to inform the individual that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense (Appeal of Samuel, 45 Ed Dept Rep 418, Decision No. 15,371; Appeal of Meringolo, 45 id. 128, Decision No. 15,281; Appeal of Kelly, 45 id. 38, Decision No. 15,253).

If I were to accept petitioner’s argument that all four “AIS teachers” served in the same tenure area, and find in her favor, the employment rights of Rebecca Voudry and/or Ann Ashworth would be adversely affected.  Under these circumstances, they are necessary parties and should have been joined and served as such (Appeal of Johnson, 46 Ed Dept Rep 432, Decision No. 15,555; Appeal of Fife, 46 id. 361, Decision No. 15,533; Appeal of Debowy, 41 id. 161, Decision No. 14,648).

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE