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Decision No. 16,331

Appeal of G.G. and L.G., on behalf of their son C.G., from action of the Board of Education of the Averill Park Central School District regarding student placement.

Decision No. 16,331

(February 29, 2012)

Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Jeffrey D. Honeywell and Ryan P. Mullahy, Esqs., of counsel

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal a determination by the Board of Education of the Averill Park Central School District (“respondent”) denying their request to enroll their son, C.G., in the Tech Valley regional technology institute (“Tech Valley”).[1]   The appeal must be dismissed.

C.G. is a 10th grade student at respondent’s Averill Park High School (“APHS”).  In September 2011, petitioner requested that C.G. be allowed to transfer from APHS to Tech Valley for the 2011-2012 school year.  On September 22, 2011, respondent’s interim superintendent denied petitioners’ request.  On September 26, 2011, petitioners appealed to respondent and, on September 27, 2011, attended a board meeting to orally request that C.G. be allowed to transfer to Tech Valley.  On September 29, 2011, respondent denied petitioners’ request because they had not submitted a timely application, in accordance with established procedures, for C.G. to attend Tech Valley during the 2011-2012 school year.  Petitioners asked respondent to reconsider its decision but, by letter dated October 3, 2011, respondent again denied their request.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioners acknowledge that the application process for a student to attend Tech Valley takes place in the spring semester of the school year preceding the student’s anticipated enrollment in Tech Valley.  They admit that C.G.’s application to attend Tech Valley in the 2011-2012 school year was not timely submitted in accordance with the established procedure, as it was not submitted until September 2011.  However, petitioners contend that they were advised by Tech Valley staff that the program is still accepting students.  They argue that it is “within the power” of respondent to allow C.G. to transfer to Tech Valley despite the late application.  In addition, petitioners argue that it is in C.G.’s best interest to attend Tech Valley during the 2011-2012 school year, and that an exception to the “typical procedure” used to apply for admission to Tech Valley is warranted.  Accordingly, petitioners request, among other things, an order directing that C.G. “be allowed to transfer immediately” to Tech Valley.  

Respondent contends that petitioners have not established a legal basis entitling C.G. to attend Tech Valley and argues that its decision in this matter was not arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion.  In particular, respondent asserts that Tech Valley had a “firm deadline” for the submission of applications for admission, and that petitioners’ application for placement in the program in the 2011-2012 school year was approximately eight months late.  In addition, respondent maintains that it was neither “practical nor economically feasible” to excuse petitioners’ failure to comply with the application deadline because, among other things, it would have been necessary to open the application/enrollment process to all eligible district students subsequent to the commencement of the 2011-2012 school year which would likely result in significant unanticipated (and unbudgeted) costs to the district.  In addition, respondent suggests that allowing C.G. to enter Tech Valley in the middle of 10th grade would “negatively affect” his chances of success in that program which, according to respondent, is a four-year program which commences in ninth grade and builds upon each year’s progress.

The appeal must be dismissed for failure to join a necessary party.  A party whose rights may be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of Murray, 48 Ed Dept Rep 517, Decision No. 15,934; Appeal of Miller, 48 id. 465, Decision No. 15,917; Appeal of Williams, 48 id. 343, Decision No. 15,879).  Joinder requires that a party be clearly named as a respondent in the caption and served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition to inform the party that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense (Appeal of Murray, 48 Ed Dept Rep 517, Decision No. 15,934; Appeal of Miller, 48 id. 465, Decision No. 15,917; Appeal of Williams, 48 id. 343, Decision No. 15,879).  Here, Tech Valley is a necessary party and, thus, should have been named as a respondent and served with a copy of the petition. 

Petitioners specifically seek an order that C.G. be permitted to “transfer immediately” to Tech Valley.  Clearly, were petitioners to obtain the relief sought, Tech Valley would be affected, as it would have to enroll C.G. and address his program needs at this juncture.  In addition, petitioners claim that Tech Valley will accept C.G. should they prevail herein.  However, other than this bald assertion, petitioners offer no proof that Tech Valley would be able or willing to do so.  In contrast, respondent submits an affidavit from a school counselor at Tech Valley which indicates, among other things, that Tech Valley has a “fixed, mandatory application process that its component school districts must comply with in order to consider . . . students for admission.”  Accordingly, I cannot conclude from the record whether Tech Valley would, in fact, be able or willing to accommodate C.G. should petitioners prevail herein.   

Moreover, the parties raise issues regarding the scope of Tech Valley’s authority in relation to that of school districts such as respondent in determining admission policies and procedures.  Therefore, in addition to the potentially adverse effect of a decision in favor of petitioners, a decision in favor of respondent could, likewise, adversely affect Tech Valley. Accordingly, Tech Valley is a necessary party to this appeal and petitioners’ failure to join it as a respondent requires dismissal.

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

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE.

[1] Tech Valley was created by Chapter 757 of the Laws of 2005, as amended by Chapter 109 of the Laws of 2006.  Although petitioners reference the program as Tech Valley High School, it, in fact, is the “Tech Valley regional technology institute.”  Tech Valley is an educational program that is jointly operated by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (“BOCES”) for Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady and Saratoga counties and the BOCES for Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties.