HOW TO SERVE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

New York City Department of Education

By Akanksha A. Panicker

The New York City Department of Education in the New York City government’s division regulates the public education system. The New York City School District is the biggest education system in the U.S., with approximately 1.1 million pupils taught in over a thousand different classrooms. It also has a yearly budget of about 34 billion dollars, spanning all five New York City boroughs.

The New York State legislature established the New York City Board of Education in 1842. From the latter part of the 60s, the district grouping was instituted for courts. Elementary schools and middle schools were grouped into 32 community school districts, and high schools were grouped into five geographically larger districts: one each for Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, one for most of Brooklyn, and one, BASIS, for the rest of Brooklyn and all of Staten Island. Also, there were several special districts for alternative schools and schools serving severely disabled students.

 The Panel manages the agency on Educational Policy and New York City Schools Chancellor. The Panel for Educational Policy of the Department of Education of the City School District of the City of New York is also called the New York City Board of Education. It exists as the governing body of the New York City Department of Education.  The members of the board are appointed by the mayor and by the five borough presidents.

Much of New York City falls under NYCDOE control except for a tiny portion of the Bronx, which is under Pelham Public Schools’ jurisdiction.
 

[1.0] SERVICE OF PROCESS AND THE CHANGE DUE TO COVID-19 

The Department of Education has slightly complicated service of process procedures. Owing to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order continuing temporary suspension and modification of laws relating to the disaster emergency, the Department of Education temporarily disabled in-person service.  Instead, the Department has created a dedicated email account wherein they collect subpoenas and permission requests. 

The DOE only accepts regular subpoenas, authorizations, or other records in a highly narrow frame. Service of procedure for judicial papers must be rendered to the New York City Law Department’s administration.

The DOE examines each paper submitted to decide whether or not the DOE can authorize service on behalf of the department. If accepted, the DOE will contact the individual via email. However,  any additional queries at the address specified are answered promptly.

[2.0]LEGAL OFFICES AT THE DOE

[2.1] OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

The Department of Education Organization Act set up an Office of the General Counsel (OGC), commanded by a General Counsel who has been designated by the President and approved by the Senate. The Office has espoused the extensive legislative mission to “provide legal assistance to the Secretary concerning the Department’s programs and policies.” The General Counsel’s statutory obligation to supply legal assistance is not restricted to the Secretary alone but rather applies to all other officers and staff of the Department, since they accompany the Secretary by fulfilling the Department’s duties. In addition to offering legal aid and conducting legal tasks, including the procurement of legal counsel, litigation, and statutory facilities, OGC is responsible for performing some law-related management functions, including overseeing the Department’s ethics program as well as the clearance of its administrative records.

The Office of the General Counsel advises the New York City Department of Education on all legal concerns, such as labor and wages, equal opportunity, remuneration policies, compliance, and special education procedures, and administrative/state/federal regulation. 

Practice Areas

The Department of Education has counsel based in the five boroughs and five major areas of practice to represent the Chancellor and staff who administer and assist the City’s pupils. OGC acts as a full-service labor and employment practice, ensuring students’ welfare, faculty, and integrity of the by-laws and instruction that the DoE is responsible for. 

OGC lawyers provide instruction and advice on the mandatory reporting framework, civil rights rules, arbitration processes, and inquiries into the discipline and defend the DOE in administrative proceedings. OGC addresses complaints of harassment of staff, including verbal and physical violence, sexism, and physical misconduct. If problematic behavior is substantiated, legal counsel pursues disciplinary action.

The OGC provides representation and counsel to the DOE to guarantee that schools focus on providing special needs children with a free and adequate education. (FAPE). School managers and employees are trained regarding special needs children’s interests, and the OGC acts as an unbiased hearing officer in Special Education proceedings.

OGC and its units offer direct counsel and guidance for DOE in lawsuits, including appeals. Consequently, OGC is experienced in writing commercial contracts, administrative rules, and laws and may guide Education Law problems. This organization frequently reacts to calls for information from the general public and media through the Freedom of Information Statute. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows people access to public documents and information. Both FOIL demands must arrive with a written form. No-specific form or format is needed. FOIL demands may be made by mail, email, or through the open records website. 

An interdisciplinary team of trained auditors and regulatory officers must also guarantee that the DOE retains an appropriate degree of fiscal discipline and compliance with federal and state regulations.

[2.2] SERVICE OF PROCESS: LAW DEPARTMENT

New York City Law Department is responsible for collaboratively providing the City with legal representation. The Law Department represents the City, the Mayor, other elected officials, and the City’s many agencies in all affirmative and defensive civil litigation, as well as juvenile delinquency proceedings brought in Family Court and Administrative Code enforcement proceedings brought in Criminal Court.

Law Department attorneys draft and review local and State legislation, real estate leases, procurement contracts, and financial instruments to sell municipal bonds. The Law Department also provides legal counsel to City officials on a wide range of immigration, education, and environmental policy issues. There is rarely a major City initiative that is not molded by the Law Department’s staff.

To file against the city and state of New York, different requirements must be fulfilled. 

To begin an action against New York City or one of its agencies or departments, notice is absolutely imperative to be provided.  The City mandates notice of an injury or a claim to be made within ninety days of the occurrence, whereinafter the individual will receive a notice of claim.  The service window for service of process on the Law department was instituted on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. It must be noted that the Law Department accepts service for summonses and documents that the Department of Education is unable to accept. 

 The service window has been open to accepting service solely on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. An email address remains available where the Law Department continues to accept service temporarily. It must be understood that the service of process that is temporarily accepted via this method only for the City of New York and entities for which the Law Department is authorized to accept service. Service of process on individuals should continue to proceed in the manner required by applicable law. 

[3.0] ACTIONS AGAINST A MAYORAL AGENCY: 

In 2002, the New York City Department of Education transferred their supervision and oversight from being dependant on thirty-two school boards to centralized accountability to the mayor of New York City. This system, known as Mayoral Control, has been in place ever since.

Obtaining a Notice of Claim and a Claim Number must be done after notification of the City of the claim. However, a thirty-day window for reviewing the claim must be allowed to the City, especially since settlements are common. After the waiting period, an action may be instituted with the Court. 

There are limitations for the time period whereinafter an action may be instituted. The action cannot be started if the limitation period expires and the claim against the loss, damage, or injury has been made after one year and ninety days.

It must be understood here that even though the Claim Number comes from the Comptroller, the Defendant who is being sued is the City of New York. It is necessary to enter the Claim Number which has been obtained, as well as any specific information regarding the claim on the application for a summons or claim, must be provided. 

Additionally, whenever the trustees or board of education in any school district are required to defend any action against them or the school property, all their costs and reasonable expenses, as well as all costs and damages adjudged against them is considered to be a district charge and shall be levied by a tax upon the district. However, the action must have been conducted in good faith. If the amount becomes disputed later in a meeting with the board of education, it should be adjusted by the county or district judge. 

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Sources

1. Currently, the chancellor is Richard Carranza

2. abbreviated as the Panel for Educational Policy

3. The New York Supreme Court elaborates: 

By chapter 91 of the Laws of 2002, the Education Law was amended to radically restructure the school district’s governance of the City of New York. The amendment provided, among other things, that the Mayor of New York was empowered to appoint a Chancellor who would preside over a Board of Education which was to be expanded from 7 to 13 members, the majority of which were also to be appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York. The Borough Presidents select five Board members. Although that legislation itself made no specific reference to a “Department of Education of the City of New York,” the bylaws subsequently adopted by the Board provide that this 13-member body “shall be known as the Panel for Educational Policy,” which together with the Chancellor and other school employees is designated as the “Department of Education of the City of New York.”

4. The email address for communications is DOESubpoenas@schools.nyc.gov.

5. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/law/index.page).

6. DOESubpoenas@schools.nyc.gov

7. Office of General Counsel Executive Leadership Team

  • Judy Nathan, General Counsel (Interim Acting)
  • Henry Bluestone Smith, Chief of Staff
  • Toni Gantz, Executive Deputy Counsel for Employment and General Practice
  • Charity Guerra, Executive Deputy Counsel for Administrative Trials, Operations and Compliance

8. S.510 – Department of Education Organization Act

 Title II: Establishment of the Department – Establishes an executive department known as the Department of Education to be headed by a Secretary of Education.

Establishes within such Department: (1) a position of Under Secretary of Education; (2) six Assistant Secretary positions; (3) an Office for Civil Rights headed by an Assistant Secretary; (4) an Office of Postsecondary Education headed by an Assistant Secretary; (5) an Office of Elementary and Secondary Education headed by an Assistant Secretary; (6) an Office of Educational Research and Improvement headed by an Assistant Secretary; (7) an office to administer functions relating to the education of overseas dependents of Department of Defense personnel; (8) a General Counsel; (9) an Office of Inspector General; (10) an Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education to provide an educational forum and to promote better intergovernmental relations; and (11) an Interdepartmental Education Coordinating Committee to assure effective coordination of Federal educational programs and practices.

9. Office of the General Counsel Contact Information 212-374-6888 asklegal@schools.nyc.gov

10. Chancellor’s Regulation D-110:

11. Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, NY 10007

12. By email: FOIL@schools.nyc.gov

13. Open Records website(Open external link).

14. The email address established for service in this period is ServiceECF@law.nyc.gov.

15. 

  1. The Department for the Aging (DFTA).
  2. The Department of Buildings (DOB).
  3. The Department of City Planning (DCP) 
  4. The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), 
  5. The Department of Correction (DOC, NYCD) is responsible for New York City’s inmates, housing most of them on Rikers Island.
  6. The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) 
  7. The Department of Design & Construction (DDC) 
  8. The Department of Education (DOE) manages the city’s public school system and is governed by the New York City Board of Education.
  9. The New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) 
  10. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 
  11. The Department of Finance (DOF)
  12. The Sheriff’s Office (Sheriff) 
  13. The Fire Department (FDNY.
  14. The Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
  15. The Department of Homeless Services (DHS).
  16. The Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) 
  17. The Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) 
  18. The Tweed Courthouse, headquarters of the Department of Education
  19. The Department of Investigation (DOI).
  20. The Law Department (Law) is responsible for most of the city’s legal affairs.
  21. The Department of Parks & Recreation (Parks
  22. The Police Department (NYPD) 
  23. The Department of Probation (DOP
  24. The Department of Records & Information Services (Doris) 
  25. The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) 
  26. The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) 
  27. The Department of Transportation (DOT) 
  28. The Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) 
  29. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB

16. On June 30, 2009, the New York State Senate declined to renew the mayor’s full authority over the school system. In particular, State Senate Democratic leader John Sampson of Brooklyn opposed the extension of mayoral control. The authority reverted for a time to the Board of Education, but mayoral control was restored until 2015 in a vote on August 6, 2009. The actual city agency running the schools remains the New York City Department of Education.

17. Information may be obtained from the City of New York Comptroller, One Center Street, New York, NY 10007

18. Attn: Corporation Counsel, 100 Church St., 5 Fl., New York, NY 10007th

19. New York Consolidated Laws, Education Law – EDN § 3811. Costs, expenses, and damages a district charge in certain cases

Whenever any superintendent, principal, member of the teaching or supervisory staff, member of a committee on special education or subcommittee thereof, surrogate parent as defined in the regulations of the commissioner of education, or any trustee or member of the board of education of a school district or non-instructional employee of any school district other than the city school district of the city of New York or any board of cooperative educational services shall defend any action or proceeding, other than a criminal prosecution or an action or proceeding brought against him by a school district or board of cooperative educational services hereafter brought against him, including proceedings before the commissioner of education, arising out of the exercise of his powers or the performance of his duties under this chapter, all his reasonable costs and expenses, as well as all costs and damages adjudged against him, shall be a district charge and shall be levied by tax upon the district or shall constitute an administrative charge upon the board of cooperative educational services provided that (a) such superintendent, principal, member of the teaching or supervisory staff, member of a committee on special education or subcommittee thereof, surrogate parent as defined in the regulations of the commissioner of education, non-instructional employee of any school district or board of cooperative educational services or such trustee or member of a board of education of such school district or board of cooperative educational services shall notify the trustees or board of education or board of cooperative educational services in writing of the commencement of such action or proceedings against him within five days after service of process upon him; and (b) the trustees or board of education or board of cooperative educational services shall, at any time during the ten days next following the notice to them of the commencement of such action or proceedings, have the right to designate and appoint the legal counsel to represent such superintendent, principal, member of the teaching or supervisory staff, member of a committee on special education or subcommittee thereof, surrogate parent as defined in the regulations of the commissioner of education, non-instructional employee of any school district or board of cooperative educational services or such trustee or member of the board of education or board of cooperative educational services in such action or proceedings against him, in the absence of which designation and appointment within the time specified such superintendent, principal, member of the teaching or supervisory staff, member of a committee on special education or subcommittee thereof, surrogate parent as defined in the regulations of the commissioner of education, non-instructional employee of any school district or board of cooperative educational services or such trustee or member of the board of education or board of cooperative educational services may select his own legal counsel; (c) it shall be certified by the court or by the commissioner of education, as the case may be, that he appeared to have acted in good faith with respect to the exercise of his powers or the performance of his duties under this chapter.

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