Commissioner's Hearing Decisions
Under Rhode Island General Law 16-39, the Commissioner of Education has the authority to hear and decide disputes "arising under any law relating to schools or education." This authority includes the right to review "any decision or doings of any school committee."
Most cases reach the Commissioner by way of an appeal from the local school district. The Commissioner or her designated hearing officer conducts an administrative hearing. Witnesses testify under oath, documentary evidence is presented, and a transcript of the hearing is compiled. The hearing officer prepares a written decision based on the law as applied to the record compiled at the hearing. The decision is approved by the Commissioner. Further review of the decision is available through the Board of Education or the courts.
Decisions of the Commissioner become precedents that guide the conduct of members of the educational community and help resolve future cases.