Subject Matter Jurisdiction

In the case of Gambardella v. State Department of Education, a teacher appealed a decision by the school superintendent to terminate him. The state department of education filed a motion to dismiss the teacher’s case due to subject matter jurisdiction. In law, subject-matter jurisdiction is a court’s authority to hear cases of a particular type or relating to a specific subject matter. A court may only hear issues that it has the authority and jurisdiction to act on. For example, a criminal court can hear criminal cases, but may not appoint guardianship to a minor in the way a probate court can.

The teacher brings this action after being notified during his first year of teaching that he was going to be terminated. According to Connecticut law, a teacher without tenure whose contract is not renewed has the ability to appeal that decision to the board of education. The board of education is an administrative agency that was created as a result of statutory authorization. In other words, it has a specific authority that is not applicable to a superior court.

On appeal, the board of education affirmed the superintendent’s decision. There was no further remedy available subsequent to that decision, and as a result, leaves the superior court without the adequate authority to provide the teacher remedy for his allegedly wrongful termination.

Source: Gambardella v. State Department of Education, 2000 Conn. Super. LEXIS 553 (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 1, 2000)

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at, to schedule a free consultation.