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Decision No. 12,895

Appeal of DORIS JEAN MYERS from action of the Board of Education of the Saugerties Central School District regarding reassignment of her son to an elementary school.

Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Gunter Dully, Esq., of counsel

Decision No. 12,895

(March 17, 1993)

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from action of the Saugerties Central School District reassigning her son from the Grant D. Morse Elementary School to the Mount Marion Elementary School. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner's son has been enrolled in the schools of respondent district since January 1991, and has attended the Grant D. Morse Elementary School through June 1992. In mid-August 1992, the district wrote petitioner advising that her son would be assigned to a first grade class at Morse. Less than two weeks later, another letter informed petitioner that her son had been reassigned to Mount Marion Elementary School because a growing first grade enrollment and a desire to equalize classroom sizes throughout the district required assignment of several first-graders to Mount Marion.

Petitioner objects to this reassignment and has objected both to school administrators and to the board of education. Petitioner commenced this appeal and requested a stay, which was denied on October 16, 1992.

Petitioner expresses concern that the reassignment of her son will have a detrimental effect on him. Petitioner objects that her son is being separated from some of his playmates and neighbors, who continue to attend Morse, and that her son was reassigned even though the family residence did not change simply because new families had moved into the district resulting in a higher enrollment at Morse than had been expected.

Respondent contends that its actions were in all respects reasonable and in compliance with law. Respondent contends that its policy of assigning students, which does not include fixed attendance zones, takes into consideration numerous factors, including the expense of transportation, the attendance of siblings and other relevant matters.

The assignment of students to a particular school is firmly a matter of discretion with local school districts (Matter of Friedman, 4 Ed Dept Rep 181; Matter of Grove, 6 id. 111; Matter of Epstein, 7 id. 127). As stated in Epstein, ". . . a board of education may, within its discretion, establish any reasonable method of zoning for the purpose of school attendance and that such method may not be interfered with in the absence of a showing that such method is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable . . . ." Where a rational basis exists, the determination of a local board of education will not be overturned by the courts (Matter of Older v. Board of Education, 27 NY2d 333; Matter of DeVito v. Nyquist, 56 AD2d 159, aff'd 43 NY2d 681).

While strictly defined attendance zones are not the issue in this matter, I am satisfied that the decision made by respondent was in response to a legitimate need to comply with provisions of its collective bargaining agreement with its teacher organization. That agreement restricts class sizes and required movement of students from one school to another to equalize class sizes and bring them within contractual limits. Accordingly, I find nothing arbitrary or capricious about respondent's actions, and I decline to interfere with them (Appeal of Kornstein, et al., 31 Ed Dept Rep 68; Appeal of Casas, 29 id. 26; Appeal of Weiner, 29 id. 45).