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Decision No. 13,302

Appeal of WILLIAM and CAMILLE KARL on behalf of their children, ELIZABETH and ERIN, from action of Arthur and Linda Kranick and the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Saratoga Springs regarding discipline of track coaches.

Decision No. 13,302

(December 8, 1994)

Young, Stockli & Rowe, Esqs., attorneys for petitioners, Kristin Carter Rowe, Esq., of counsel

Perkins & Perkins, Esqs., attorneys for respondents Arthur and Linda Kranick, Scott Perkins, Esq., of counsel

Buchyn, O'Hare, Werner & Gallo, Esqs., attorneys for respondent board of education, Margaret D. Huff, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the failure of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Saratoga Springs ("respondent board") to dismiss Arthur and Linda Kranick, high school cross country and track coaches. The appeal is dismissed.

On May 14, 1993, as a result of an investigation prompted by a parent's complaint, respondents Arthur and Linda Kranick were orally instructed not to administer vitamin supplements to student athletes. In January 1994, as a result of petitioners' complaint to respondent board, an assistant superintendent investigated allegations concerning the Kranicks' continued administration of vitamin supplements to student athletes. This investigation revealed that the Kranicks were still giving vitamin supplements to student athletes. As a result of these findings, respondent board placed a counseling letter in Mr. Kranick's file. Petitioners appealed to the board of education, seeking dismissal of the Kranicks as cross country and track coaches. On June 14, 1994, the board notified petitioners of their decision to uphold the discipline imposed by the administration. This appeal followed.

Petitioners contend that the board's decision not to pursue further disciplinary action against the Kranicks was arbitrary and capricious. Respondents counter that many of petitioners' assertions relate to incidents prior to 1993 and are time barred. Further, respondent board contends that no further disciplinary action is required, because its investigations revealed that the Kranicks did not violate any law or regulation. In addition, respondent board argues that the relief requested is unnecessary because the school district has amended its policy regarding the administration of vitamin supplements to students.

An appeal must be instituted within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of (8 NYCRR 275.16). In this instance, some of the alleged improper conduct occurred during the 1992-93 school year, and this appeal was commenced more than 30 days thereafter. Accordingly, to the extent that this appeal seeks to challenge actions which occurred during the 1992-93 school year, it is untimely and must be dismissed.

With respect to the merits, a board of education has broad discretion in determining whether disciplinary action against school personnel is warranted (Appeal of Cardinal, 34 Ed Dept Rep 76; Appeal of Earl, 33 id. 543; Appeal of Anderson, 33 id. 322; Appeal of Allert, 32 id. 538; Appeal of Mitzner, 32 id. 15). However, there must be a reasonable basis for concluding that disciplinary action is unwarranted (Appeal of Anderson, supra; Appeal of Mitzner, supra). Moreover, petitioners bear the burden of establishing a clear legal right to the relief requested (Appeal of Keller, 32 Ed Dept Rep 47).

In this case, respondent board investigated respondents' behavior. The record did not support petitioners' allegations regarding excessive training or that the Kranicks encouraged student athletes to forgo taking prescribed medication. However, the Kranicks admitted administering or encouraging student athletes to ingest vitamin supplements. The Kranicks also failed to heed respondent board's previous instruction to avoid administering or otherwise encouraging student athletes to take vitamin supplements. Respondent board determined that the placement of a counseling letter in Mr. Kranick's file was a sufficient response to this behavior. Because respondent board's determination was based upon careful deliberation, and because the record reflects that the school district's policy has been modified to prevent a recurrence of the conduct complained of, I find its determination and action reasonable and rational.

However, I must comment on respondent board's inability to demonstrate that the Kranicks obtained parental consent in all instances prior to administering vitamin supplements to student athletes. Specifically, with regard to petitioners, I find it unlikely that petitioners would now assert the inappropriate use of vitamin supplements if they had in fact previously consented to their administration. Additionally, respondents did not offer written authorization by petitioners, but instead, submitted the authorization of two other parents. When taken as a whole, the record appears to support petitioners' contention that they did not consent to the administration of vitamin supplements to their children. I cannot condone respondents' failure to respect parental rights to regulate the ingestion of any substances by their minor children. Respondents are thus admonished to comply with the new district policy and refrain from such action in the future.

I have considered petitioners' remaining contentions and find them without merit.