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Decision No. 16,307

Appeal of C.L., on behalf of her son G.L., from action of the Board of Trustees of The Renaissance Charter School regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 16,307

(October 4, 2011)

Nixon Peabody LLP, attorneys for petitioner, Edward D. Altabet, Esq., of counsel

Shebitz Berman Cohen & Delforte, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Julia R. Cohen, Esq., of counsel

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the suspension of her son by the Board of Trustees of The Renaissance Charter School (“respondent”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner’s son (“G.L.”) was a senior at The Renaissance Charter School (“the School”) in the 2010-2011 school year.  The School was authorized by the Chancellor of the City School District of the City of New York (“Chancellor”) and chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. 

In February 2011, petitioner was notified that the School was considering expelling G.L. for certain alleged misconduct.  A hearing officer held a disciplinary hearing on February 16, 2011.  By letter dated February 25, 2011, the hearing officer determined that the student was guilty of the charged conduct and suspended him for the remainder of the school year.  Petitioner appealed to the School’s principal, who upheld the determination by letter dated April 1, 2011.  Petitioner appealed to respondent, which upheld the determination by a decision dated May 4, 2011.  This appeal ensued. 

The appeal must be dismissed.  Pursuant to Education Law §2855(4), the Legislature prescribed the process for resolving complaints against actions of charter schools, with exceptions not relevant here.  The law provides, in pertinent part, that “[a]ny individual or group may bring a complaint to the board of trustees of a charter school alleging a violation of the provisions of this article, the charter, or any other provision of law relating to the management or operation of the charter school.”  If dissatisfied with the board of trustees’ response, the complainant may then bring the complaint to the charter entity and thereafter to the Board of Regents.  The charter entity and the Board of Regents have the power and the duty to issue appropriate remedial orders to charter schools under their jurisdiction.  Pursuant to §3.16(a) of the Rules of the Board of Regents, the Board of Regents delegated to the Commissioner of Education the authority to receive, investigate and respond to complaints presented to the Board of Regents pursuant to Education Law §2855(4) and to issue appropriate remedial orders concerning the same.

Education Law §2854(1)(a) provides, in pertinent part, “[n]otwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, to the extent that any provision of this article is inconsistent with any other state or local law, rule or regulation, the provisions of this article shall govern and be controlling.”  Given that the Legislature specifically provided a process for resolving disputes against a charter school, I find that I do not have jurisdiction pursuant to Education Law §310 to address the allegations raised in this appeal.  I note that the School’s discipline code, which was submitted with respondent’s answer, indicates that decisions of the board of trustees may be appealed to the Commissioner.  This provision of the School’s discipline code conflicts with Education Law §2855(4) by not providing for review of the charter school complaint by the charter entity prior to seeking review by the Commissioner on behalf of the Board of Regents and cannot confer jurisdiction over this appeal.

Accordingly, petitioner must follow the process set forth in Education Law §2855(4) and present her complaint to the Chancellor.  If dissatisfied with the Chancellor’s response, petitioner may then bring the complaint to the Commissioner through the New York State Education Department’s Charter School Office in accordance with 8 NYCRR §3.16(a).

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE.