Education Law §310 provides that persons considering themselves aggrieved by an action taken at a school district meeting or by school authorities may appeal to the Commissioner of Education for a review of such action. A §310 appeal must be initiated within 30 days of the decision or action complained of, unless the delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown in the petition.
In addition, Education Law §306 allows the Commissioner of Education to remove a trustee, member of a board of education and certain other school officers for wilful misconduct or neglect of duty. An application for removal must also be initiated within 30 days of the decision or action complained of, and must contain evidence of wilful, intentional wrongdoing.
The burden of proof in an appeal to the Commissioner rests with the person bringing the petition, i.e. the petitioner. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and the burden of establishing all the facts upon which he or she seeks relief. This may be accomplished by the submission of affidavits, exhibits or other proof. Mere allegations, suppositions, theories or conclusions, without factual proof are insufficient.
The Commissioner of Education has promulgated regulations governing the practice to be followed in such appeals. These regulations are found in Parts 275, 276 and 277 of the Commissioner's Regulations.
In addition, the Office of Counsel has prepared general instructions and sample forms, and a series of questions and answers for filing an appeal for petitioners not represented by an attorney. Please note that the instructions and forms are only intended to serve as a guide. Petitioners are encouraged to consult with their own attorney before initiating an appeal to the Commissioner of Education.
Special procedures apply to appeals involving homeless children and youth (Information on filing an appeal involving homeless children and youth). Special procedures apply to appeals involving New York City charter school location/co-location and building usage plans (Information on filing an appeal involving New York City charter school location/co-location and building usage plans).
All decisions of the Commissioner are published. The decisions of the Commissioner of Education from April 1958 through June 2010 are officially reported and indexed in Education Department Reports, Volumes 1-49, which may be available in your local library. Unedited and unindexed decisions from July 1991 to date are published on this web site at Decisions of the Commissioner of Education. Prior to bringing an appeal, petitioners are encouraged to review decisions with facts similar to their case. These decisions establish precedent by which future cases will be decided.