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Decision No. 13,125

Appeal of DEBRA WEBB, on behalf of her sons Paul and Daniel, from action of the Board of Education of the Fairport Central School District regarding a committee.

Decision No. 13,125

(March 3, 1994)

Johnson, Mullan & Brundage, P.C., attorneys for petitioner, George A. Schell, Esq., of counsel

Harris, Beach & Wilcox, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Alfred L. Streppa, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent's actions concerning a committee and seeks an order annulling the committee's decision to eliminate Halloween activities at respondent's Northside Elementary School. The appeal must be dismissed.

The collective bargaining agreement between respondent and the Fairport Educators Association for the years 1988 through 1991 contained a provision to develop building-based planning and management councils. Such councils were implemented during the 1989-90 school year. The councils originally were comprised of teachers and administrators. Parent representatives were included shortly thereafter, as early as August 1990. In the collective bargaining agreement for the years 1991 through 1994, the planning and management councils were continued. Such councils are known by different names, depending upon the building. The council for respondent's Northside Elementary School is known as the Northside Planning Management Council.

Petitioner is a resident of the Fairport district and her sons attend respondent's Northside Elementary School. On August 16, 1993, the Northside Planning Management Council elected to eliminate Halloween activities at that school. On October 19, 1993, petitioner requested that respondent annul the August 16th decision of the Northside Planning Management Council. When respondent refused that request, this appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that respondent established the Northside Planning Management Council in violation of 8 NYCRR 100.11 and, therefore, its establishment constitutes an unlawful delegation of the board's authority. Respondent contends that the Northside Planning Management Council was implemented long before the promulgation of '100.11 and that there has been no violation of that regulation. I agree.

In March 1992, Regulations of the Commissioner of Education were promulgated establishing procedures for school-based planning and shared decisionmaking (8 NYCRR 100.11). The intent of the regulaton was to foster a process of school-based planning and shared decisionmaking, involving parents and teachers, to improve the education performance of all students. The regulation requires every board of education to develop a district plan in collaboration with a planning committee composed of the school superintendent, administrators, teachers and parents. The regulation further provides that every district must have its plan in place no later than February 1, 1994, and that each plan must be submitted to the Commissioner of Education for approval within 30 days of its adoption by the local board (8 NYCRR 100.11[d][1]).

The record indicates that at the time this appeal was commenced, respondent was in the process of establishing a school-based planning and shared decisionmaking committee to develop an appropriate plan, which respondent anticipated would be submitted on or before February 1, 1994. It is apparent that respondent's Planning Management Council significantly predates 8 NYCRR 100.11 and, although similar to planning and shared decisionmaking committees, is separate and independent of the shared decisionmaking committee. Accordingly, there is no basis to conclude that such councils violate 8 NYCRR 100.11.

While some duties are so important that a board of education may not delegate them (see Board of Education, Hunter Fannersville CSD v. McGinnis, 100 AD 2d 330), the determination of whether or not the custom of Halloween will be observed in school is not such a duty. Pursuant to Education Law '1709(33), a board of education possesses those powers reasonably necessary to manage and control the education affairs of the district. That provision further gives the board all authority reasonably necessary to exercise its express or implied powers. The delegation of authority, complained of by petitioner, is an exercise of that power to manage and control the educational affairs of the school district. Accordingly, I find no basis for concluding that respondent improperly delegated its responsibility in this matter.

Petitioner also maintains that the refusal to allow Halloween activities at the Northside school was impermissively made for religious reasons. That contention is not supported by the record. The cited reasons for the decision are: conflict with other activities, loss of an entire day of instruction due to Halloween distractions, the increasingly grotesque and violent nature of some costumes and the increasing number of children kept home from school because of the Halloween activities. There is no indication that the decision to eliminate Halloween activities as part of the school day was religiously motivated.

I have reviewed petitioner's other contentions and find them without merit.