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Decision No. 14,387

Appeal of P.S., on behalf of her sons, M.S. and M.S., from action of the Board of Education of the Arlington Central School District regarding attendance zones.

Decision No. 14,387

(June 12, 2000)

Raymond G. Kuntz, P.C., attorney for respondent, Raymond G. Kuntz, Esq. of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Arlington Central School District ("respondent") that her sons may not attend school outside the attendance zone in which she resides. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner currently resides with her husband and two sons, ages 8 and 10, in LaGrangeville, within the Arlington Central School District. Both children attended Beekman Elementary School ("Beekman") during the 1998-1999 school year. In May 1999 petitioner and her family moved into a new home located in the attendance zone served by the LaGrange Elementary School ("LaGrange").

Although petitioner had moved from Beekman to LaGrange in May 1999, she did not transfer her children’s enrollment in September 1999. However, in late September 1999, district officials discovered that petitioner had moved out of the Beekman attendance zone and informed her that her children would have to transfer to LaGrange, the attendance zone in which her new home was located. On September 28, 1999 petitioner requested that her sons be allowed to complete the 1999-2000 school year at Beekman. The principal of Beekman advised her that respondent would consider her request at its October 12, 1999 meeting.

By letter dated October 13, 1999 the Beekman principal informed petitioner that respondent had denied her request, and that her sons would have to transfer to LaGrange on November 1, 1999. This appeal ensued. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on November 12, 1999.

Petitioner contends that her younger son has great anxiety concerning change, and has been under the care of a mental health professional for this problem. She claims that the two moves in one year were very difficult for him, and changing schools mid-year could cause him further psychological damage. She submits letters from his pediatrician and social worker in support of this claim.

Respondent claims that petitioner never discussed her child’s emotional problems with school officials. It also maintains that petitioner intentionally provided school officials with an incorrect address at which she did not reside in order to enroll her sons in Beekman for the 1999-2000 school year. Respondent further contends that it does not permit students to attend schools outside of the attendance zone in which they reside.

Pursuant to Education Law "1709(3) and (33), a board of education has the authority and responsibility to manage and administer the affairs of the school district, including the assignment of pupils to schools therein (Matter of Older, et al. v Board of Ed., 27 NY2d 333; Appeal of Ibrahim, 39 Ed Dept Rep 155, Decision No. 14,200; Appeal of the Lancaster Parent Alliance, 38 id. 356, Decision No. 14,053; Appeal of Johnson, 37 id. 465, Decision No. 13,906). In the assignment of pupils to schools, a board of education has broad discretion (Matter of Addabbo v. Donovan, 22 AD2d 383; aff'd 16 NY2d 619, cert den 382 US 905; Appeal of the Lancaster Parent Alliance, supra). Accordingly, a board's decision regarding school assignments will only be overturned when found to be arbitrary, capricious or contrary to sound educational policy (Matter of Older, supra). Moreover, petitioner bears the burden of demonstrating that respondent’s action is arbitrary, capricious or contrary to sound educational policy (Appeal of Johnson, supra; Appeal of Sherwood, et al., 33 Ed Dept Rep 410, Decision No. 13,096; Appeal of McNerney, et al., 28 id. 250, Decision No. 12,097). I find that petitioner has failed to meet that burden of proof.

The record establishes that respondent does not permit students to attend school outside of the attendance zones in which they reside. Petitioner has presented no evidence that respondent has granted exceptions to this policy, nor does she argue that this policy is illegal. There is also no dispute that petitioner resides in the LaGrange attendance zone. Thus, petitioner has no legal basis to insist that her sons remain at Beekman.

While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s assertion that her son has experienced anxiety as a result of the family’s recent moves, I do not find that respondent’s determination was arbitrary, capricious or contrary to sound educational policy.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE


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