POUGHKEEPSIE – The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department has ordered former Poughkeepsie High School Principal Phee Simpson reinstated.
A statement from the school district issued on Wednesday said it “welcomes Dr. Simpson back to the district and looks forward to her contribution to the progress of the last three years.”
Simpson was terminated from her post in August 2019 after being charged with 41 counts of conduct unbefitting an educator/administrator in that she knowingly and willfully approved the conferral of credits completed by certain students in an online platform known as PLATO with full knowledge that such credit was unlawful, as the students had not satisfied the state regulation requirements.
The charges alleged that Simpson’s actions were part of an intentional scheme to accelerate credit acquisition in order to artificially inflate graduation rates.
Following a hearing officer’s hearing, the officer found that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that Simpson acted intentionally, sustained all the charges and imposed a penalty of termination.
Simpson commenced a proceeding to vacate the hearing officer’s determination, and for reinstatement to her tenured position with back pay to the date of her determination.
In the appellate court’s decision Dated Jun 8, 2022, the justice said the Supreme Court erred in denying the petition.
“Here, the hearing officer’s finding that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that the petitioner that the petitioner acted intentionally is inconsistent with a finding that the petitioner was guilty of any of the charges,” the Appellate Court justices wrote.
They noted that at the hearing, Simpson “admitted to conduct that was, at most, negligent. There was no evidence to contradict the petitioner’s testimony that she did not act intentionally.”
The justices wrote that the hearing officer “correctly found that there was not enough evidence to support a finding that the petitioner acted intentionally, but then went on to sustain all of the charges, each of which alleged intentional conduct. The decision was not rational and did not have a plausible basis.”