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Decision No. 13,259

Appeal of ADELAIDE THOMPSON from action of the Board of Education of the Duanesburg Central School District regarding a shared decisionmaking plan.

Decision No. 13,259

(September 14, 1994)

Paul M. Callahan, Esq., attorney for respondent

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner, a resident of the Duanesburg Central School District, challenges several aspects of a shared decisionmaking plan adopted by the Board of Education of the Duanesburg Central School District ("respondent") on February 15, 1994, pursuant to 8 NYCRR '100.11. The appeal must be dismissed.

As a preliminary matter, petitioner offers new allegations and exhibits in her reply. The purpose of a reply is to respond to procedural defenses or new material contained in an answer (8 NYCRR 275.3). It is not meant to buttress allegations contained in the petition or add assertions or exhibits that should have been contained in the petition (Appeal of Konkoski, 33 Ed Dept Rep 303; Appeal of Taber, et al., 32 id. 346; Appeal of Mermelstein, et al., 30 id. 119). Accordingly, I have not considered the new allegations and exhibits included in petitioner's reply.

Petitioner first contends that respondent did not sufficiently inform the residents of the district about the plan. Respondent denies that allegation and points out that the plan was discussed at numerous public meetings during its development. Respondent additionally states that it is planning to inform the public about the plan through the district newsletter and announcements from the Duanesburg Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO), which will reach "virtually 100% of the households in the district." Section 100.11(d)(1) of the Commissioner's regulations provides that the "plan shall be made available to the public." Respondent avers that copies of the plan are available from its business office and that the public is aware of the plan's availability through notices in its newsletter as well as information sent home to students' parents. Accordingly, based upon the record before me, there is no basis to conclude that respondent has not informed residents of the plan (Appeal of Cobb, 34 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 13216, dated July 12, 1994).

Petitioner also contends that the method in the plan for selecting parent members of each building team is defective. Because the selection of parent members is limited to members of the PTSO, petitioner contends that members selected will not be representative of the entire community. However, that contention ignores the fact that all district parents are automatically considered members of the PTSO for the purpose of participating on a building team. Moreover, membership on the PTSO is open to all district parents (Appeal of Cobb, supra).

Petitioner also criticizes the fact that, pursuant to the plan, the PTSO is permitted to establish a process defining how parent members are selected. Petitioner further alleges that the process for amending the plan is defective because suggested changes from a building team are reviewed by a steering committee before being presented to the board. With respect to petitioner's contentions regarding the selection of parent members and the process for amending the plan, petitioner presents no basis for deeming respondent's plan to violate law or regulation. She merely disagrees with the plan and contends that her ideas are better. In the absence of some demonstration that respondent has acted in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner or has violated the shared decisionmaking regulations, petitioner's mere disagreement with the plan is not a basis for ordering respondent to adopt the changes espoused by petitioner (Appeal of Cobb, supra).

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