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Decision No. 17,328

Appeal of ANGELA and MARC JOHNSON, on behalf of their daughter SABRINA, from action of the Board of Education of the Stillwater Central School District regarding dual enrollment.

Decision No. 17,328

(February 27, 2018)

Copps DiPaola, PLLC, attorneys for petitioners, Anne Reynolds Copps, Esq., of counsel

Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Kristine A. Lanchantin, Esq., of counsel

ELIA, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the determination of the Board of Education of the Stillwater Central School District (“respondent” or “board”) that their daughter, Sabrina (the “student”), was not eligible to enroll in the Washington, Saratoga, Warren, Hamilton, Essex Board of Cooperative Educational Services (“WSWHE BOCES”) New Visions Health Careers Exploration Program (“New Visions”) as a dually enrolled student.  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the student was a junior in a nonpublic school within respondent’s district.  In or about March 2016, the student expressed interest in the WSWHE BOCES New Visions program for the 2016-2017 school year, which, according to petitioners, would require dual enrollment in her nonpublic school and WSWHE BOCES pursuant to Education Law §3602-c.  Petitioners contacted respondent’s high school guidance counselor to inquire as to the process for applying for dual enrollment services, and the guidance counselor indicated that she would have to confirm with respondent’s high school principal.[1] 

On or about March 20, 2016, respondent’s high school principal left a voicemail for the nonpublic school guidance counselor, indicating that petitioners’ request was denied because the deadline for such request was in February.[2]

By letter dated March 23, 2016, petitioners made a formal request to respondent’s superintendent and president of the board for dual enrollment pursuant to Education Law §3602-c. 

By letter dated May 10, 2016, respondent notified petitioners that the student “was not eligible to enroll in the WSWHE BOCES New Vision Healthcare Careers Exploration Program as a dually enrolled student.”  The letter explained that, under the Education Law, dual enrollment services are offered to students in nonpublic schools in three areas: “career and occupational education; gifted education; and special education for students with disabilities.”  Further, participation in the New Visions program would only be permissible under the dual enrollment provisions if the program qualified as “career and occupation[al] education,” which respondent determined it did not.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on June 9, 2016. 

Petitioners assert that the New Visions program qualifies as career and occupational education within the provisions of Education Law §3602-c and therefore the student should have been granted dual enrollment status to receive those services.  Petitioners also contend that the annual statutory deadline for application for dual enrollment status pursuant to Education Law §3602-c is June 1, yet the building principal told them in a voicemail message that the deadline for their request was in February and their request was too late.[3]  Therefore, petitioners assert that respondent’s determination was in violation of Education Law §3602-c.   Petitioners request that the determination of respondent board denying petitioners’ request on behalf of the student for dual enrollment for purposes of attending the WSWHE BOCES New Visions program for the 2016-2017 school year be overturned. 

Respondent argues that the appeal must be dismissed as moot and maintains that the New Visions program does not qualify as a career and occupational education program as defined by Education Law §3602-c(1)(c). 

I must first address the procedural issues.  A memorandum of law should consist of arguments of law (8 NYCRR §276.4).  It may not be used to add belated assertions or exhibits that are not part of the pleadings (Appeal of Bruning and Coburn-Bruning, 48 Ed Dept Rep 84, Decision No. 15,799; Appeal of Wright, 47 id. 202, Decision No. 15,668).  Respondent objects to petitioners’ memorandum of law as bolstering petitioners’ allegations by including exhibits which were available at the time the petition was filed and without prior permission of the Commissioner pursuant to 8 NYCRR §276.5.  In response, petitioners assert that the attachments to their memorandum of law were in the public domain, including one from the State Education Department website and were not attached as evidence.  Nonetheless, while I have reviewed petitioners’ memorandum of law, I have not considered those portions containing new allegations or exhibits.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 Ed Dept Rep 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; Appeal of Embro, 48 id. 204, Decision No. 15,836).  Petitioners requested that their daughter be permitted to participate in the New Visions program for the 2016-2017 school year.[4]  Petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied and the school year has ended, rendering their claims moot (see Appeal of L.M., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,208).

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

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE

 

[1] Petitioners assert, but respondent denies, that the guidance counselor indicated to them that she “did not anticipate any issues.”

 

[2] Petitioners assert, but respondent denies, that the principal indicated that “the district had not budgeted for this so the request would be denied.”

 

[3] I note that respondent’s May 10, 2016 determination did not cite untimeliness as a basis for denial of petitioners’ request for dual enrollment status.

 

[4] Additionally, I note that, according to the petition, the student was expected to graduate in June 2017.