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Decision No. 13,321

Appeal of PEGGY LOCOROTONDO, on behalf of her daughter, NICOLE, from action of the Board of Education of the Rondout Valley Central School District, relating to college early admission.

Decision No. 13,321

(December 23, 1994)

Douglas Jesse Hunt, P.C., Esq., attorney for petitioner

Raymond G. Kuntz, P.C., Esq., attorney for respondent, Leah L. Murphy, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent's denial of permission for her daughter, Nicole, to enroll in a college early admission program during her senior year in high school. The appeal must be dismissed.

On May 9, 1994, Nicole applied for early admission to the Ulster County Community College ("UCCC"). A school guidance counselor signed her application pending the completion of her junior year in high school with a final grade point average of 85%. On June 21, 1994, Nicole was accepted at UCCC pending receipt of her final transcript. On June 23, 1994 the final grade reports were released and Nicole's final average was 81.57%.

On June 25, 1994, the school guidance counselor contacted UCCC and informed it that because Nicole's final average was below the minimum of 85%, school district policy barred her from enrolling in UCCC full time for the 1994-95 school year. UCCC then revoked Nicole's conditional acceptance.

In response, petitioner met with the high school principal and subsequently with the superintendent. The superintendent upheld the principal's decision but placed the matter on the agenda for the next school board meeting. On August 9, 1994, petitioner presented her position to respondent. On August 23, 1994, the board upheld the finding that Nicole was ineligible for full-time attendance at UCCC because her grade point average fell below 85%. This appeal followed.

Petitioner claims respondent approved Nicole's application for attendance at UCCC and, therefore, cannot now withdraw its approval. Further, petitioner asserts she and Nicole were unaware of a grade-point average policy preventing students with an average of less than 85% from attending UCCC full time. Respondent contends its denial of petitioner's request was both consistent with school district policy and rational.

A board of education has the authority to prescribe the course of study by which pupils of the schools shall be graded and classified, and to regulate the admission of pupils and their transfer from one class or department to another, as their scholarship warrants (Education Law '1709(3)). Consistent with that authority, a board of education may have a policy establishing a grade point average requirement as a prerequisite for admission into a program (Appeal of Haun, 28 Ed Dept Rep 393). The Commissioner will not substitute his judgment for that of a board of education with respect to student placement absent evidence that the board acted in an illegal, arbitrary or capricious manner (Appeal of Stujenske, 34 Ed Dept Rep 123; Appeal of Amoia, 28 id. 150; Appeal of Bartowski, 25 id. 52). I find no such evidence here.

The record reflects that respondent has a written policy requiring an 85% average for admission into the full-time UCCC program. The record further reflects that respondent informed Nicole of the 85% requirement prior to Nicole's application. Nicole's final average was below the required 85%. The application was not carte blanche for Nicole to attend, merely an opportunity to apply, contingent on her grade point average. Since both her application and her acceptance by UCCC were contingent on her final average meeting respondent's 85% requirement, she was ineligible to attend UCCC full time. Contrary to petitioner's assertion, the fact that the school's guidance counselor signed Nicole's application is of no moment.

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