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Decision No. 13,152

Appeal of THOMAS A. SULLIVAN from action of the Board of Education of the Copake-Taconic Hills Central School District and Muriel Lanciault regarding the granting of tenure.

Decision No. 13,152

(April 8, 1994)

Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, Esqs., attorneys for respondent board of education, Gunter Dully and Mary Walsh Snyder, Esqs., of counsel

Hogan & Sarzynski, Esqs., attorneys for respondent Lanciault, John B. Hogan, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner, a member of the Board of Education of the Copake-Taconic Hills Central School District ("respondent board"), challenges respondent board's decision to grant tenure to its high school principal, respondent Lanciault. The appeal must be dismissed.

On April 11, 1990, respondent board appointed Ms. Lanciault principal of its high school for a three-year probationary period commencing July 1, 1990 and ending June 30, 1993. By memorandum dated May 22, 1992, the superintendent informed the board that he would recommend Ms. Lanciault for tenure at its regular meeting on May 28, 1992. At its May 28 meeting, respondent board granted Ms. Lanciault tenure by a 6 to 3 vote. This appeal ensued.

Before discussing the substantive issues raised by this appeal, I must address a procedural contention. Respondent argues that petitioner lacks standing to bring this appeal because he is not aggrieved within the meaning of Education Law '310. To have standing to bring an appeal pursuant to that provision, a petitioner must be aggrieved in the sense of suffering personal damage or injury to his or her rights (Appeal of Flint, 26 Ed Dept Rep 84; Matter of Hassid, 24 id. 281; Matter of Feiss and Dawkins, 22 id. 401). For the purposes of this appeal, petitioner's interest in this matter is essentially that of a resident of the district. Petitioner's status as a member of respondent board of education does not endow him with any greater interest (Appeal of McGraw, 31 Ed Dept Rep 451; Matter of Richter, 14 id. 382; Matter of Rainsford, 12 id. 49). Status as a resident of a school district or as a parent of a student does not, in and of itself, confer standing to seek review of the action of the board of education with respect to its employees (Matter of Shanks, et al. v. Donovan, et al., 32 AD2d 1037; Appeal of Reed, et al., 33 Ed Dept Rep 216; Appeal of Pecorale, et al., 31 id. 493). Because petitioner presents no claim that he was personally affected by the decision to grant Ms. Lanciault tenure, he lacks standing to bring this appeal, and his appeal must be dismissed.

The appeal must also be dismissed on the merits. Education Law '3012 provides in pertinent part:

Principals, administrators, supervisors and all other members of the supervising staff of school districts, including common school districts and/or school districts employing fewer than eight teachers, other than city school districts, shall be appointed by the board of education, or the trustees of a common school district, upon the recommendation of the superintendent of schools for a probationary period of threeyears.

* * * *

At the expiration of the probationary term of a person appointed for such term, subject to the conditions of this section, the superintendent of schools shall make a written report to the board of education or the trustees of a common school district recommending for appointment on tenure those persons who have been found competent, efficient and satisfactory.... Each person who is not to be recommended for appointment on tenure, shall be so notified by the superintendent of schools in writing not later than sixty days immediately preceding the expiration of his probationary period. (emphasis supplied)

Petitioner contends that the board was not authorized to grant Ms. Lanciault tenure because she had not served a full three-year probationary period. He argues that Education Law '3012 must be applied literally and that respondent board could not grant Ms. Lanciault tenure since she had only completed approximately two years of her probationary appointment at the time it was granted.

However, this argument has been expressly rejected by the New York State Court of Appeals. In Matter of Weinbrown v. Board of Educ., 28 NY2d 474, 477, the Court sanctioned the practice of granting tenure to an individual prior to the expiration of a probationary period:

The statute [Education Law '3012] requires a decision at least 60 days before the end of the probationary period. We see no purpose in requiring the district to withhold its favorable determinations until the last day. (See also Roberts v. Community Sch. Bd., 66 NY2d 652).

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