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Decision No. 15,913

Application of FU-YUN TANG for the removal of Uri Kaufman as a member of the Board of Education of the Lawrence Union Free School District.

Decision No. 15,913

(May 5, 2009)

Minerva & D’Agostino, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Melinda Sims, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner seeks the removal of Uri Kaufman (“respondent”) from the Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Union Free School District (“board”).  The application must be denied.

In this application, petitioner claims that respondent must be removed from office for “dereliction of duty” based on statements he made at the board’s October 2, 2007 meeting.  Among other things, petitioner claims that respondent suggested publicly that prior boards attempted to deny services to special education students who were Orthodox Jews.  Petitioner also alleges that respondent’s statement may have been based on “confidential information,” thereby constituting a breach of student privacy.  Respondent argues, interalia, that the application must be denied as untimely.

The record indicates that the application was served on respondent on November 3, 2007, more than 30 days after the October 2, 2007 board meeting.  An appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of, unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR §275.16; Appeal of Proctor, 46 Ed Dept Rep 575, Decision No. 15,599; Appeal of Henley, 46 id. 556, Decision No. 15,594).  The 30-day limitation period also applies to a removal application made pursuant to Education Law §306 (8 NYCRR §277.1; Application of Berman, 46 Ed Dept Rep 378, Decision No. 15,537; Appeal of Berman, 46 id. 64, Decision No. 15,442). 

The only reason petitioner offers for her delay is that she was “unaware ... that [respondent] had moved homes since he was served with my prior grievance.”[1]  However, respondent submits an affidavit stating that “[a]t all times since December 2002, my family and I have lived at our current address.”  Under these circumstances, I find no basis to excuse petitioner’s delay.  Accordingly, the claim must be dismissed as untimely.

While the application must be dismissed on procedural grounds, one administrative matter remains.  Respondent requests that I issue him a certificate of good faith pursuant to Education Law §3811(1).  Such certification is solely for the purpose of authorizing the board to indemnify respondent for legal fees and expenses incurred in defending a proceeding arising out of the exercise of his powers or performance of duties as a board member.  It is appropriate to issue such certification unless it is established on the record that the requesting board member acted in bad faith (Application of Berman, 46 Ed Dept Rep 378, Decision No. 15,537; Application of Mazile, 45 id. 378, Decision No. 15,356).  In view of the fact that the application is dismissed for the reason set forth above and there has been no finding that respondent acted in bad faith, I find that respondent is entitled to receive the requested certificate.

In light of this disposition, I need not address the remaining contentions raised in this application.

THE APPLICATION IS DENIED.

[1] On or about July 11, 2006, petitioner commenced an application for the removal of respondent Kaufman and two other trustees.