Decision No. 18,183
Application of JACQUELYN DILORENZO for the removal of Lee Kennedy as trustee and president of the Board of Education of the Connetquot Central School District.
Decision No. 18,183
(August 19, 2022)
Sokoloff Stern LLP, attorneys for respondent, Chelsea Weisbord and Connor Mulry, Esqs., of counsel
ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner seeks the removal of Lee Kennedy (“respondent”) as a trustee and president of the Board of Education of the Connetquot Central School District City School District (“the board”). The application must be denied.
Given the disposition of this application, a detailed recitation of the facts is unnecessary. Petitioner argues that respondent should be removed from the board for a variety of reasons, including “demonstrat[ing] bias in her decision-making and disrespect for her constituents by consistently arguing with parents at almost every [board] meeting.” Petitioner further alleges that respondent violated her oath of office as board president by abstaining from a September 14, 2021 board vote.
Respondent contends that the application must be dismissed as untimely, for improper service, and for lack of the notice required by 8 NYCRR 277.1 (b). On the merits, respondent contends that petitioner has failed to meet her burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to her requested relief.
The application must be dismissed for improper service. Section 275.8 (a) of the Commissioner’s regulations requires that the petition be personally served upon each named respondent. The record indicates that petitioner failed to personally serve the petition upon Ms. Kennedy, who is the sole respondent in the application. According to petitioner’s affidavit of service, the petition was left with a “receptionist” at the board’s district office whom the affiant knew to be “responsible for receiving district mail.” Section 275.8 (a) of the Commissioner’s regulations, which is made applicable to removal proceedings by Commissioner’s regulation § 277.1, requires that the petition be personally served upon each named respondent (Appeal of Lovinsky and Simpson, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,422). Respondent asserts that she was never personally served with a copy of the petition. Petitioner did not submit a reply or otherwise respond to this contention. Thus, the application must be dismissed for improper service (Application of a Student with a Disability, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,391).
Additionally, the application must be dismissed for lack of the specialized notice required by section 277.1 (b) of the Commissioner’s regulations. This regulation dictates the specific notice required for removal applications pursuant to Education Law § 306, which is distinct from the notice required under section 275.11 (a) for appeals pursuant to Education Law § 310. The notice of petition secures jurisdiction over the intended respondent and alerts the respondent that he or she must appear in the removal proceeding and answer the allegations contained in the application (Application of Johnson, et al., 56 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,055; Appeal of Hertel, 49 id. 267, Decision No. 16,021; Application of Barton, 48 id. 189, Decision No. 15,832; Appeal of Catalan, 47 id. 176, Decision No. 15,660). Thus, a removal application, as here, that does not include the specific notice required by 8 NYCRR 277.1 (b) is fatally defective and must be denied (Application of Johnson, et al., 56 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,055; Appeal of White and Carmand, 56 id., Decision No. 16,994; Appeal of Kelly, 45 id. 38, Decision No. 15,253).
In light of the foregoing disposition, I need not consider the parties’ remaining arguments.
THE APPLICATION IS DENIED.
END OF FILE