New York State Department of Education Defense Lawyer

Every parent and guardian trusts their child’s school to provide a learning environment free from discrimination, harassment, and other types of harm. When you have reason to suspect your child’s school has betrayed your trust, you may feel angry, hurt, overwhelmed, or confused. 

Education-related claims may be handled at the city, state, or federal level in New York, depending on the circumstances of the claim. This multi-tiered system can be daunting to navigate for families unfamiliar with its layout and rules.

At the Brill Law Firm, our attorneys help families bring the right claim to the right forum. We help you understand your options and make an informed decision for your children and family.

Department of Education Investigations

The NYC Department of Education and the state Department of Education investigate various claims, including claims of discrimination, harassment, and improper or unlawful behavior. The goal of these departments is to support a safe, secure school environment for students, staff, teachers, and parents. 

During an ordinary school day, a student, staff member, parent, job applicant, or another individual may interact with many different people who fill different roles within the school environment. The NYC Department of Education offers processes for bringing claims of discrimination, harassment, and other unlawful treatment depending on the respective position of the parties involved.


Teachers and other education professionals may face complaints that end in adverse consequences for the educator. In 2021, the NYC Department of Education took the following actions based on recommendations from the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) for the New York City School District:

  • 142 employees faced disciplinary conferences. 
  • 102 employees received official admonishment letters in their personnel files,
  • 37 employees had their employment terminated, and
  • 30 employees received orders requiring them to pay restitution. 

SCI also examined 32 cases referred from other agencies in 2021. The agency identified several cases involving loss, theft, or mismanagement of funds totaling $151,758.58. In many of these claims, a school district employee faced adverse action. 

These numbers indicate that disciplinary actions aren’t an empty threat or hollow risk. Teachers facing claims made by co-workers, administrators, students, parents, and other parties need strong representation to present their side of the case and protect their legal rights. 

Discrimination or Harassment by Staff Members

The NYC Department of Education’s Chancellor’s Regulation A-830 outlines the department’s non-discrimination policy. This regulation also outlines rules for filing a complaint if discrimination is suspected between a staff member and a student or between one staff member and another.

Topics covered in Regulation A-830 include:

  • Equal employment opportunity rules, 
  • Equal educational opportunity rules, 
  • Access for parents and other parties who file claims or otherwise interact with the DOE, 
  • Behavioral and procedural guidelines for DOE staff members handling discrimination or harassment claims, 
  • Reporting and complaint procedures,
  • Accommodations for staff and students with disabilities. 

Complaints may be filed online through the official online complaint form. In some cases, complaints may also be filed by email, phone, mail, or in person. Some complaints can also be filed anonymously.

Often, parents are the ones who bring a complaint to the DOE’s attention. If a parent is not the one who files the complaint, the DOE must take steps to notify the parent of the complaint promptly after receiving the complaint.

Upon receiving a complaint, the DOE Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) examines it to determine if the allegations describe prohibited discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or any combination of the three. If not, the OEO may refer the complaint to other agencies if appropriate. 

If the complaint does allege prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, the OEO then opens an investigation. OEO must notify parties, including the parent of any involved student, about the investigation and their rights. An experienced New York DOE defense attorney can also help you understand your legal rights concerning an investigation. 

OEO typically issues written determinations within 90 days of receiving a complaint unless the time is extended “for good cause.” The time may be extended if OEO needs more time to gather and review evidence, for example. 

Claims Education Professionals May Face

Education professionals may face a number of claims from various sources. These include:

  • Claims that the educator has engaged in corporal punishment or verbal abuse,
  • False accusations of various types of wrongdoing,
  • Insubordination accusations. 

Consequences for these claims include disciplinary actions, peer intervention, reassignment, or even job termination.

As a New York City school employee, you have rights. These include the right to consult with an experienced attorney. A lawyer can help you understand the charges you face and fight for the best possible outcome. 


The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) works to protect NYC’s public employees’ right to organize and bargain collectively. PERB also works to prevent strikes by maintaining communications and negotiation channels. PERB was established by the Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act of 1967, also known as the Taylor Law. 

One of PERB’s roles is to hear claims brought under Section 310 of the Education Law. Section 310 allows a person to appeal to the Commissioner of Education if they believe an action taken by a school board or school authorities harms them in some way. Under Section 306 of the Education Law, the Commissioner of Education can remove a trustee, education board member, and “certain other school officers” for willful misconduct or neglect of duty. 

Accusations under Section 310 of the Education Law are serious. Willful misconduct and neglect of duty call your professional integrity into question and may threaten your entire career. Working with a lawyer who has experience before the Public Employment Relations Board can help you fight these claims. 

Federal Claims: Discrimination and Title IX Claims

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits federally-funded education programs and activities from discriminating based on sex. Title IX protects students, staff members, parents and guardians, and people who apply for jobs in a federally-funded education program, including New York’s public schools. 

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released new rules related to Title IX enforcement. These rules recognize that sexual harassment and assault fall under the Title IX definition of sex discrimination. Title IX, therefore, applies to prohibit sexual harassment and assault in federally-funded education programs. 

The 2020 rule also requires schools to provide “free supportive measures” to those who report that they have experienced sexual harassment. Supportive measures must be available even if the person who reports harassment does not wish to move forward with a formal grievance. 

Other Claims Within New York City School Districts

Not all incidents of wrongdoing fall under the city, state, or federal discrimination or harassment laws. When the Office of Equal Opportunity determines that a claim doesn’t involve discrimination or harassment but may involve a crime, the office may forward that claim to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District (SCI).

SCI operates independently from the New York City Department of Education. Its role is to investigate allegations of crime, corruption, and other forms of misconduct within the DOE and involving people and companies conducting business with the DOE. 

Examples of cases SCI may investigate include:

  • Fraud
  • Financial misbehavior, such as misappropriation of funds,
  • Allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse committed by adults toward students, 
  • Conflicts of interest, and
  • Other forms of illegal or unethical behavior that undermine the schools’ ability to provide a safe and appropriate education for students. 

Like a criminal investigation by a police department, an SCI investigation may result in arrests, criminal charges, or other proceedings. 

As an independent agency, SCI doesn’t report directly to the Department of Education or to the Chancellor. However, when SCI completes an investigation, the agency may send a written report or statement of findings to the DOE Chancellor. This report may also include SCI recommendations regarding the Chancellor’s course of action. 

Because SCI is concerned with unlawful and improper activity related to schools, the agency accepts complaints from sources both inside and outside the school district. Parents, students, and school staff may file complaints with SCI. The agency also receives complaints from the DOE, other government agencies, and private businesses, such as contractors and vendors working with schools. In some cases, SCI will initiate its own investigations to comply with its legal responsibility to provide oversight and recommendations.

Choosing an Experienced NY Defense Attorney for a Department of Education Claim

Navigating New York’s layers of the city, state, and federal school requirements can be challenging. An experienced NYC Department of Education defense attorney can help you make sense of this process and pursue your desired results. When you work with a caring and trained lawyer, you receive the following:

  • Advice tailored to your specific situation, the events you faced, and the results you want to see.
  • An advocate who handles navigating the system, meeting deadlines, and filling out paperwork, so you can focus on your daily needs and goals. 
  • Peace of mind in knowing that you’re not alone. An experienced attorney is fighting for you. 

If you are falsely accused or are summoned to appear at a hearing, talk to a lawyer first. An attorney can help you ensure you are represented fairly.

At Brill Law Group, we’re dedicated to helping each of our clients make their case. We’ll listen to your concerns, explain your options, and help you choose a path forward. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Just when I was getting discouraged and was at my wits end trying to find the right attorney for my case, a family member recommended Mr. Brill. He did not disappoint. Mr. Brill and his team are diligent, very professional, encouraging and honest every step of the way. Highly recommended.

- A.S.