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Decision No. 12,749

Appeal of BRUCE and MARIANNE KUTTNER from action of the Board of Education of the Albion Central School District regarding student honors.

Decision No. 12,749

(July 17, 1992)

Harris, Beach & Wilcox, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, David W.

Lippitt, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal from respondent's refusal to grant their daughter certain academic honors. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners' daughter transferred into the Albion Central School District (the district) at the beginning of the 1991-92 school year, her senior year in high school. In February 1992, although she was ranked fourth in a class of 163, the student learned that she would not be eligible for "honor status" because she had earned fewer than 12 credits in the district. Respondent's policy on class rank (the policy) provides, "[s]tudents who will not earn at least 12 credits at Albion Central School will not be included in ranking for Honor Status." The record indicates that students in the district typically earn between 5.5 and 6.5 credits per year. Consequently, under the policy, students must have attended district schools for approximately two years to be eligible for academic honors.

On February 20, 1992, petitioner Bruce Kuttner met with the principal of Albion High School to discuss his daughter's eligibility for honor status. The principal explained the district's policy to Mr. Kuttner and stated that, because the student had not earned 12 credits in the district, she could not be granted "honor status." The principal indicated that petitioners' daughter would be permitted to wear an honors banner on her graduation robe, and that her official transcript would reflect her ranking as fourth in the class. However, pursuant to the policy, the principal explained that petitioners' daughter was ineligible for other benefits of honor status, e.g., having her name on a school plaque; receiving a special dinner and medallion; and having her picture in the local newspaper.

Following his conversation with the principal, Mr. Kuttner spoke with the district's superintendent of schools, who advised him to present the matter to the board of education. After a discussion on March 2, 1992, the board of education determined not to change its policy. Petitioners were informed on March 16, 1992 that the policy would stand. They commenced this appeal on April 23, 1992.

Section 275.16 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education requires that an appeal be instituted within 30 days after the making of the decision or the performance of the act of which the petitioner complains, provided that the Commissioner may excuse a delay in commencing an appeal for good cause (Application of Cox, 27 Ed Dept Rep 124, 125). The board of education informed petitioners of its decision regarding their request to change the policy on March 16, 1992, more than 30 days before the commencement of this appeal. Petitioners have not offered any explanation for their delay. Consequently, the appeal must be dismissed as untimely (id.; Appeal of Loriz, 27 Ed Dept Rep 376).

The appeal would be dismissed on the merits, in any event. Recognition for academic achievement is a local matter for which the board of education may impose reasonable standards (Appeal of Boutros, 27 Ed Dept Rep 209, 211). In light of the Boutros decision, which upheld a policy requiring students to earn 22 units in the district to be eligible for honor status, I cannot find respondent's policy unreasonable.