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Decision No. 13,315

Appeal of CAROL GASLOW, on behalf of her son, SCOTT, from action of the Board of Education of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District, relating to student discipline.

Decision No. 13,315

(December 16, 1994)


Guercio & Guercio, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Lynmarie C. Schuman, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges a one day in-school suspension imposed by the Board of Education of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District ("respondent") on her son, Scott. The appeal must be dismissed.

On Friday, March 18, 1994 during his 8th grade English class, while the teacher was reading aloud from a novel, Scott yelled several times that he could not hear. In response, the teacher directed Scott to move his seat to the front of the classroom. Shortly thereafter, the teacher began to smell butane near Scott. When the teacher asked Scott if he had a cigarette lighter, Scott became disruptive and insubordinate. His actions included laughing at the teacher, throwing his coat and refusing to take a seat in the hallway. A school security officer eventually escorted Scott to the assistant principal's office.

While no lighter was found in Scott's possession, the principal subsequently decided to impose a one day in-school suspension upon him for his disruption of the English class and refusal to follow the teacher's direction to take a seat in the hallway. After discussing the matter with petitioner, the school superintendent upheld the in-school suspension. Petitioner appealed to respondent, who in a letter dated May 5, 1994, also upheld the in-school suspension.

Petitioner seeks an order expunging the in-school suspension from Scott's record and an order directing the teacher, the principal and the superintendent to apologize to Scott for allegedly falsely accusing him of having a cigarette lighter. Petitioner contends that respondent failed to provide her with a hearing or notice before imposing the one day in-school suspension against Scott. Respondent denies that it acted improperly.

Petitioner seems to argue that respondent violated Education Law '3214 relating to student discipline. I find that argument unpersuasive. In Matter of Watts, 23 Ed Dept Rep 459, 460-461, the Commissioner of Education held that the procedures required for a suspension from school as set forth in '3214 of the Education Law are not applicable to in-school suspensions:

Not unlike suspensions from extracurricular activities, "in-school" suspensions or other similar disciplinary steps taken by school administrators do not require a full hearing pursuant to Education Law '3214 (Matter of Roach, 19 Ed Dept Rep 377; Matter of Moore, et al., 22 id. 180; Matter of Stewart, 21 id. 654). However, any suspension of privileges or administrative discipline may be imposed only in accordance with a procedure which is basically fair and which grants the student and parent an opportunity to appear informally before the person or body authorized to impose discipline, in order to discuss the conduct being reviewed.

The record before me demonstrates that petitioner met with the principal to discuss the suspension. Petitioner also discussed this matter with the school superintendent, and the matter was further reviewed by respondent board. I find that these actions satisfy respondent's obligation of procedural fairness.

Petitioner also alleges in conclusory fashion that Scott was improperly searched and was not provided adequate instruction while serving his in-school suspension. Respondent denies those allegations. In an appeal before the Commissioner of Education, the petitioner has the burden of establishing the facts upon which he or she seeks relief (8 NYCRR 275.10; Application of Verity, 31 Ed Dept Rep 485; Appeal of Singh, 30 id. 284). Because petitioner offers no evidence to support her allegations on these issues, she has not met her burden of proof.