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Sunday, April 20, 2014
MAMS teacher, ousted over 'Princesses L.I.' appearance, threatens lawsuit
(Page 2 of 4)
Bravo TV
Stefan Serie, a former Merrick Avenue Middle School health teacher, recently lost his provisional tenure and his position, apparently because of his appearance on “Princesses Long Island.” Now he is threatening to sue the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District if he doesn’t get his job back. Above, Serie appearing on the show.

Kilada said that his client could not have lost his tenure because of his teaching abilities. He said Serie was rated “highly effective,” a rating that just 7 percent of teachers throughout the state received in 2011-12. A number of Serie’s students and their parents described him in glowing terms, as did colleagues.

A Facebook group calling itself Support Stefan Serie wrote in a post on its website that a member has spoken with a knowledgeable source who said that Serie was denied tenure because he demonstrated “poor decision-making” and “poor judgment” in appearing on “Princesses Long Island.” The group, administered by Christine Grassman, whose son was coached by Serie, disputes the charges.

The question is, did the Board of Education have the right to rescind Serie’s tenure?

The tenure question

According to John Burman, a New York State Department of Education spokesman, tenure, which affords teachers due process in the event that charges are leveled against them, is granted by boards of education at the local level. He noted that school boards employ teachers, not the state, and that boards rarely rescind tenure once it has been granted. Burman, however, said it happens at times.

To receive tenure, a teacher must provide three years of “satisfactory” service to his or her district, as determined by the teacher’s supervisors, according to state education law. Boards of education typically grant provisional tenure in the spring before a teacher enters his or her fourth year. Up to that point, a teacher is considered an “at-will” employee, and can be dismissed without a 3020a hearing, a legal process that is granted to tenured teachers, according to the website of the Carl Place-based education law firm Leeds Brown P.C.

Serie would have begun his fourth year of teaching for the Central District in September.

Garden City-based education attorney Howard Miller said that two critical cases –– Jill Remus v. the City of Tonawanda School District and Sharon Shaffer v. the Schenectady City School District, both decided in 2001 –– upheld a district’s right to grant provisional tenure to a teacher and rescind it before the teacher receives full tenure in his or her fourth year.

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