STATE OF MICHIGAN
STATE TENURE COMMISSION
Sara Ann Schwarz,
Docket No. 18-12
Forest Area Community Schools,
Attorney for Appellant: William S. Gregory
P.O. Box 233
Suttons Bay, MI 49682-0233
Attorney for Appellee: Katherine Wolf Broaddus
Thrun Law Firm, P.C.
3260 Eagle Park Drive NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525-4569
DECISION AND ORDER ON EXCEPTIONS
On October 31, 2018, appellant Sara Ann Schwarz filed a claim of appeal challenging the decision of appellee Forest Area Community Schools to discharge her. Appellee filed a motion for summary disposition, arguing that appellant did not serve appellee with the claim of appeal in a timely manner and that therefore this Commission lacked jurisdiction over the claim of appeal. There was a hearing on the motion on December 18, 2018, before administrative Law Judge Eric J. Feldman (ALJ). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a preliminary decision and order (PDO) granting the motion and dismissing the claim of appeal. The PDO was based on the finding of the ALJ that the claim of appeal was not timely served on appellee as required by section 4(1) of article IV of the Teachers’ Tenure Act, MCL 38.104(1).
According to the PDO, the deadline for filing exceptions to the PDO with this Commission was January 25, 2019. Appellant filed exceptions and a supporting brief on January 29, 2019. Appellee filed a statement in support of the PDO and a supporting brief on February 8, 2019. On February 17, 2019, appellant filed a “brief in support of petitioner’s supplemental statement of exceptions.” Appellee filed a response to the “supplemental statement of exceptions” on February 28, 2019. Appellant filed a response to appellee’s response to the “supplemental statement of exceptions” on March 7, 2019.
Article IV, section 4(5) of the Teachers’ Tenure Act, MCL 38.104(5), provides in part as follows.
(j) Not later than 20 days after service of the preliminary decision and order, a party may file with the tenure commission a statement of exceptions to the preliminary decision and order or to any part of the record or proceedings, including, but not limited to, rulings on motions or objections, along with a written brief in support of the exceptions. The party shall serve a copy of the statement of exceptions and brief upon each of the other parties within the time limit for filing the exceptions and brief. If there are no exceptions timely filed, the preliminary decision and order becomes the tenure commission's final decision and order.
(k) Not later than 10 days after being served with the other party's exceptions and brief, a party may file a statement of cross-exceptions responding to the other party's exceptions or a statement in support of the preliminary decision and order with the tenure commission, along with a written brief in support of the cross-exceptions or of the preliminary decision and order. The party shall serve a copy of the statement of cross-exceptions or of the statement in support of the preliminary decision and order and a copy of the brief on each of the other parties.
(l) A matter that is not included in a statement of exceptions filed under subdivision (j) or in a statement of cross-exceptions filed under subdivision (k) is considered waived and cannot be heard before the tenure commission or on appeal to the court of appeals.
Thus, as mandated by the statute, the PDO issued by the ALJ in this case became the final decision and order of this Commission when no exceptions were timely filed. This Commission has no authority to alter the statutory timeline and no jurisdiction to consider exceptions (and, in this case, “supplemental exceptions”) that are filed outside that timeline. Bush v Board of Education of Zeeland Public Schools (98-40-2) (Appellant’s motion for rehearing, September 29, 1999), Torrento v Detroit Public Schools (98-6) (Appellant’s motion to dismiss appellee’s exceptions and brief, June 14, 1999).
For the foregoing reasons, we order the following:
Appellant’s exceptions and supplemental exceptions are dismissed as untimely.
Appellee’s motion for summary disposition is granted.
Appellant’s claim of appeal is dismissed.
David Campbell, Chairperson
R. Stephen Olsen, Secretary
Michelle Richard, Member
Jeffrey Sewick, Member
William Wooster, Member
Dated: March 11, 2019