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Decision No. 13,011

Appeal of RONALD V. SANTICOLA from action of the Board of Education of the Hunter-Tannersville Central School District regarding appointment of a shared decisionmaking committee.

Decision No. 13,011

(September 17, 1993)

Wilkie & Graff, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Wayne L. Graff, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from respondent's refusal to appoint him to a shared decisionmaking committee of the Hunter-Tannersville Central School District. The appeal must be dismissed.

In response to recently promulgated '100.11(b) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, respondent authorized the creation of a committee to collaborate in the development of a shared decisionmaking plan for the district. Section 100.11(b) provides that the committee shall be composed of the superintendent, administrators, teachers and parents "selected by school-related parent organizations." That section further defines a school-related parent organization as "a nonprofit organization of parents of children attending the schools of the school district whose purposes include the promotion of parental involvement in public education and that is chartered or incorporated under the laws of New York ...."

On January 21, 1993 respondent directed that four parents be selected to the district's shared decisionmaking committee and requested the Student Parent Teacher Organization of Hunter-Tannersville Central, Inc. (SPTO) to select the four parent representatives. At a meeting of SPTO held on March 16, 1993, four parent representatives were elected. Petitioner was elected as an alternate representative to the shared decisionmaking committee.

Petitioner objected to the candidates selected and requested that he be designated as one of the primary parent representatives to the committee. On April 8, 1993 respondent rejected petitioner's request and approved the selections made by SPTO. On April 26, 1993 petitioner was involved in the organization of a local branch of the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. On May 6, 1993 petitioner asked respondent to recognize the newly formed chapter as an official parent group within the district. He also requested at that time that respondent appoint him and another member of the new group as two of the four parent representatives of the shared decisionmaking committee. Respondent, having doubts as to the viability of the new group, deferred recognition of the group and voted to maintain the composition of the shared decisionmaking committee as previously accepted by respondent.

Petitioner maintains that respondent's actions in this matter are improper and that he should be appointed as one of the primary parent representatives of the district's shared decisionmaking committee. Specifically, petitioner maintains that the parent membership of the committee must be equally divided between parents of students at the district's two schools. Since three of the current representatives are from one school and only one is from the other school, petitioner contends the representation is inadequate and improper. The record indicates that the board discussed the idea of having the parent membership equally divided between parents for the district's two schools. However, respondent was unable to agree on that issue and made no express conditions that the representatives be so equally divided. In addition, '100.11(b) imposes no such requirement. Accordingly, petitioner's contention on this issue is rejected.

Petitioner also maintains that he should be a primary parent representative rather than an alternate since he has been approved by the newly formed local chapter of the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. However, the organization was not formed until after the parent representatives had been selected. Since that organization was not in existence at the time the parent representatives were selected, it clearly could have no role in the selection process. Section 100.11(c) requires a board of education to employ on its shared decisionmaking committee parents selected by school-related parents organizations. SPTO is a proper school-related parent organization, as that term is defined in the Regulations of the Commissioner. The record indicates that SPTO was formed in 1987 and incorporated in 1989. Since at least 1990, it has been recognized by respondent as a school-related parent organization and has been involved in many activities in support of the educational programs within the Hunter-Tannersville Central School District. It has also participated in cooperative educational decisions and programs. Based on the foregoing, respondent did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when it accepted the representatives selected by SPTO and rejected petitioner's request.

Petitioner offers new allegations and an exhibit in his reply. The purpose of a reply is to respond to procedural defenses or new material contained in an answer (8 NYCRR '275.3). A reply is not meant to buttress allegations contained in the petition or add assertions or exhibits that should have been in the petition (Appeal of Taber, et al., 32 Ed Dept Rep 346; Appeal of Mermelstein, et al., 30 id. 119). Accordingly, I will not consider the new allegations or the exhibit included in petitioner's reply.