v                                                                           DOCKET NO. 09-37





Attorney for Appellant:    Shawntane Williams

                                      17186 Buckeye Lane

                                      Brownstone, Michigan 48174


Attorney for Appellee:     Gad L. Holland

                                      1150 Griswold, Suite 2100

                                      Detroit, Michigan  48226





          On November 15, 2009, following a hearing on the issue of the Commission’s jurisdiction in this matter, Administrative Law Judge James R. Ward (the ALJ) issued a preliminary decision and order.  The ALJ found that appellant Kristina Richardson received notice from appellee Detroit Public Schools on June 17, 2009, of its decision to terminate her employment.  The ALJ further found that appellant’s claim of appeal was not received by this Commission until July 8, 2009, the twenty-first day after her receipt of appellee’s decision.  Because appellant’s claim of appeal was not filed within the jurisdictional 20 day time limit specified in MCL 38.104(1), the ALJ determined that her appeal was barred.  Appellant filed exceptions to the PDO, with accompanying brief, on November 4, 2009. 









          In her exceptions, appellant argues that, because her claim of appeal was postmarked on July 6, 2009,[1] it was mailed on time to have been received in the State Tenure Commission’s office by July 7, 2009.  She further argues that, because the Commission’s office was closed on July 6, 2009, due to a state furlough day, “there is no reason except for some type of internal delay with the processing of the mail” to have prevented her claim of appeal from being filed on July 7, 2009.   If it is determined that the claim of appeal was not timely filed, appellant requests that an exception be made because the furlough day substantially affected the receipt of her claim of appeal on July 7, 2009.

          Article IV, §4 of the Teachers’ Tenure Act provides a tenured teacher the right to appeal a controlling board’s decision to proceed on charges against the teacher by filing a claim of appeal with this Commission “not later than 20 days after receipt of the controlling board’s decision.”  MCL 38.104(1).  For a pleading to be timely filed, the Commission’s administrative rules require that it be received by the Commission before the close of business on the last day of the time limit for the filing.  2000 AC, R 38.145 (1).   The Commission has held that the 20 day time line for filing an appeal is jurisdictional, and that claims filed after the time limit has expired are barred.  Bush v Zeeland Public Schools (97-42).  Further, this Commission does not have authority to extend a time line beyond that designated by the Legislature in the Tenure Act.  Bush v Zeeland Public Schools (98-40-2).

          Even if we had authority to grant an exception, as appellant requests, we find no ground supporting that request.  The fact that the Commission’s office was closed on July 6, 2009, is immaterial because the claim of appeal was not postmarked until 9 pm on July 6, 2009.  Obviously, appellant’s claim of appeal would not have been received in the Commission’s office until sometime after that day.

Moreover, we do not find it unreasonable or extraordinary for a letter to take two days to travel from Detroit to the Commission’s office in LansingIn Bush v Zeeland Public Schools (97-42), we stated that a three day interval for mail to travel from another Michigan city to a large office in Lansing was not unreasonable.  We noted that the assumption that it would arrive sooner carried with it an element of risk, particularly where a holiday was involved.  In this case, there was no mail delivery on Saturday (the Fourth of July) or the following Sunday.  We also noted in Bush the available alternatives, such as overnight delivery and hand delivery.  In addition, the Commission’s rules allow transmission by facsimile.  2000 AC, R 38.145(2).     

Thus, it is clear that controlling precedent supports the preliminary decision and order in this matter.  The ALJ properly found that appellant’s claim of appeal was not timely filed and that we therefore lack jurisdiction to consider it.  We have no authority to grant an exception to the statutory jurisdictional requirements. 






Based on the record and for the foregoing reasons, we order:


Appellant’s exceptions are denied.


Appellant’s claim of appeal is dismissed.




James Petrie, Chairperson




Karen K. Leslie, Secretary




Patricia A. Cole, Member




Ritschard P. Homberg, Member




Dirk Zuschlag, Member


DATED:  December 16, 2009



[1] The ALJ found that appellant enclosed her appeal in a correctly addressed envelope with appropriate postage on July 2, 2009, and that she “thereafter” deposited the envelope in the mail.  (PDO ¶ 1).  The ALJ also found, and appellant does not contest, that the envelope bears a postmark of July 6, 2009.