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Decision No. 13,212

Appeal of ISOBEL KLEINMAN from action of the Board of Education of the Sewanhaka Central School District and Superintendent Dr. George Goldstein relating to teacher workload.

Decision No. 13,212

(July 8, 1994)

Janet Axelrod, Esq., National Education Association of New York, attorney for petitioner

Douglas E. Libby, Esq., attorney for respondent

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner, a physical education teacher at the Sewanhaka Central School District ("respondent"), alleges her teaching load exceeds the limits established in the Commissioner's regulations '100.2(i). The appeal must be dismissed.

Respondent has employed petitioner as a physical education teacher for 26 years. Petitioner is currently assigned to a rotating 4 day schedule, comprised of nine 40 minute periods in each school day. On days 1 and 3 she teaches a total of 213 students in 5 classes, with between 35 and 50 students per class. On days 2 and 4 she teaches a total of 175 students in 4 classes with between 33 and 43 students per class. Petitioner's daily schedule additionally includes one 40 minute preparation period, one study hall, lunch and a productivity period when she covers for absent teachers or performs departmental duties. Petitioner's job duties include planning curriculum, teaching, evaluating student progress, grading, paperwork and acting as a parent liaison. There is no homework.

Petitioner claims that the teaching load in excess of 150 students per day violates 8 NYCRR 100.2(i) and seeks to have me direct respondents to reduce her teaching load. Respondent contends that '100.2(i) should not be applicable to physical education teachers and, in the alternative, that there is no violation of the regulation, because the excess teaching load is justified.

Section 100.2(i) states:

The number of daily periods of classroom instruction for a teacher should not exceed five. A school requiring of any teacher more than six teaching periods a day, or a daily teaching load of more than 150 pupils, should be able to justify the deviation from this policy.

While respondents do not dispute that petitioner's daily teaching load exceeds 150 pupils, they argue that the regulation should not apply to physical education teachers. This argument is unpersuasive. On its face, the regulation makes no specific exception for teachers of physical education, and I therefore cannot find that an excess teaching load for physical education teachers is automatically justifiable. Instead, the facts of each case must be evaluated to determine whether a particular assignment which does not comply with the express provisions of the regulation precludes effective teaching in a manner that diminishes quality instruction for pupils (Appeal of Baker, et al., 33 Ed Dept Rep 395; Appeal of McGann-Masucci, 29 id. 106; Appeal of Wassman, 27 id. 401; Appeal of Borden, 26 id. 237; Appeal of Ames, et al., 26 id. 266).

As the regulation provides, deviation from the policy is permissible if the district can demonstrate circumstances to justify the deviation. Upon the record before, me, I find that respondent has justification for the deviation. Respondent central high school district has physical constraints because some of the high schools have minimal teaching stations for physical education.

The intent of '100.2(i) is to maintain quality instruction for pupils (Appeal of Laforty, 33 Ed Dept Rep 161; Appeal of McGann-Masucci, supra; Appeal of Borden, supra; Appeal of Ames, et al., supra). The issue I must decide is whether petitioner's workload precludes effective teaching. In a previous case where a physical education teacher was required to instruct between 9 and 11 classes per day with between 189 to 232 students, I determined that the teaching load did not unduly impair the teacher's ability to teach (Appeal of Wassman, supra). In this case, there is no homework for petitioner to grade, and participation, skills and fitness account for 90% of the students' grades, with only 10% of the grade from written examinations. Therefore, unlike many academic subjects, less time outside of class is actually required for grading and reviewing students' work. The record further reflects that petitioner has 200 minutes of scheduled preparation time per week. In reality, she teaches only four classes on some days and five classes on other days. On the days she teaches only four classes, in addition to her scheduled preparation period, a study hall, her lunch and the period where she may perform departmental functions, petitioner also has one period of unassigned time. Petitioner does, therefore, have preparation time to accommodate her need to evaluate students and plan her lessons.

Accordingly, based upon the record before me, I am unable to conclude that petitioner's teaching assignment materially impairs her ability to provide quality instruction (Appeal of Wassman, supra; Appeal of Borden, supra; Appeal of Ames, et al., supra). Respondent must, however, monitor teachers' workloads, and make good faith efforts to come into compliance with '100.2(i).