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Arrocha v. Board of Education of the City of New York, 1999 N.Y. Int. 0071 (May 6, 1999).

EDUCATION - TEACHER'S LICENSE - PRIOR CONVICTION


ISSUE & DISPOSITION

Issue

Whether a teacher's license can be denied because of a nine year old conviction for the sale of drugs.

Disposition

Yes. The school board need not rebut the presumption of rehabilitation when it considers all the factors of the case.

SUMMARY

Citing his conviction nine years earlier for selling $10 worth of cocaine to an undercover police officer, the New York City Board of Education denied a teacher's license to Jose Luis Arrocha.

Kings County Supreme Court granted Arrocha's petition to annul the Board's determination, stating the Board did not review all eight factors that must be reviewed before a licensing authority can reject the application of an ex-convict whose certificate of relief from disabilities creates a presumption of rehabilitation. The Appellate Division, Second Department, voting 3-2, affirmed the judgment.

The Board of Education asked the Court of Appeals to reverse the order of the Appellate Division, arguing that its action was neither arbitrary nor capricious, nor did it violate the Correction Law's requirements regarding the presumption of rehabilitation.

Agreeing with the Board of Education, the Court of Appeals did so. It ruled that the Board was not obligated to rebut the presumption of rehabilitation and was entirely justified in considering the nature and seriousness of this particular crime, a B felony cocaine sale committed by petitioner at the mature age of 36, of overriding significance when issuing a high school teaching license.