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Decision No. 13,474

Appeal of GREENBURGH ELEVEN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS from action of the Board of Education of the Greenburgh Eleven Union Free School District and Superintendent Sandra Mallah regarding shared decisionmaking.

Decision No. 13,474

(August 29, 1995)

James R. Sandner, Esq., attorney for petitioner, James D. Bilik, Esq., of counsel

Shaw & Silveira, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, David S. Shaw, Esq., of counsel

SHELDON, Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent's implementation of a shared decisionmaking plan by the Board of Education of the Greenburgh Eleven Union Free School District ("respondent"). The appeal must be sustained.

Petitioner is a union representing teachers and teaching associates in the Greenburgh Eleven Union Free School District. Respondent is a special act school district created by the Legislature for the sole purpose of providing educational services to students who reside or attend Children's Village, a not-for-profit institution. On May 26, 1994, respondent adopted its shared decisionmaking plan, which was approved by the State Department of Education on August 4, 1994.

On or about October 4, 1994, petitioner commenced a related appeal concerning issues of parent representation and the development and adoption of the shared decisionmaking plan. That appeal was recently decided by the Commissioner (Appeal of Greenburgh Eleven Federation of Teachers, Decision No. 13425, June 7, 1995). On January 31, 1995, president of petitioner union wrote to the superintendent advising her of objections petitioner had to certain actions taken by respondent in connection with the implementation of the shared decisionmaking plan and requested a meeting of the district-wide planning committee. In a letter dated February 14, 1995, respondent denied petitioner's request for a meeting. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner alleges that respondent violated the shared decisionmaking plan by refusing to convene a meeting of the district-wide planning committee that was requested by a stakeholder group. Respondent contends that it denied petitioner's request for a meeting since petitioner is attempting to rewrite provisions of the adopted plan and petitioner's objections are related to the litigation pending before the Commissioner.

In this case, petitioner argues that respondent has violated the shared decisionmaking plan by refusing to schedule a meeting concerning issues of teacher selection and representation.

Respondent's shared decisionmaking plan I(D)(2) provides that the district level planning committee will "meet at least once a year and/or at the request of a stakeholder group." Respondent denied petitioner's request for a meeting because it perceived petitioner's request as a desire to change the actual plan and stated that the Commissioner had not yet rendered a decision on petitioner's previous appeal. Now that the previous appeal has been decided, and based on the plain language of the plan itself, it is clear that respondent must grant petitioner's request for a meeting of the district level planning committee as soon as possible.

I note that this is the second appeal filed by the parties over their differences concerning shared decisionmaking. As the Commissioner has stated previously, the purpose of the shared decisionmaking is to foster communication among all parties involved in the critical job of educating our children. I urge the parties to work together to comply with the spirit and letter of the regulation and achieve the important goals of shared decisionmaking.

THE APPEAL IS SUSTAINED.

END OF FILE