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Decision No. 13,442

Appeal of LES ROBY, individually and as President of the White Plains Teachers Association, from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of White Plains regarding shared decisionmaking.

Decision No. 13,442

(June 29, 1995)

James R. Sandner, Esq., attorney for petitioners, Katherine A. Levine, Esq., of counsel

Plunkett & Jaffe, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Phyllis S. Jaffe, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal respondent's action pertaining to the district's shared decisionmaking plan. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners are a collective bargaining association representing teachers in the City School District of the City of White Plains and its president. Pursuant to 8 NYCRR 100.11, the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of White Plains ("respondent") adopted a shared decisionmaking plan on February 1, 1994. Respondent's plan provides for the creation of school-based councils ("SBCs"), which serve as site-based management teams. Subsequent to the plan's adoption, a dispute arose concerning the method by which teachers would be selected to serve on the SBCs. On September 20, 1994, petitioners' representatives unanimously passed a motion concerning elections for the SBC. The motion provided that:

Teachers elected to the School Based Councils must be tenured teachers with a majority being based full time in the building represented. All representatives must teach a minimum of .6 FTE (full time equivalent) at the local site.

At a board meeting held on October 11, 1995, respondent clarified a provision of its shared decisionmaking plan concerning the election of members to the school-based councils. The clarification stated that the plan was not intended to restrict candidates elected to the SBCs in order to develop councils as diverse and representative of the population as possible. On October 18, 1994, petitioners unanimously voted to rescind the September 20th motion and convert the motion into a recommendation that teachers elected to the SBCs be tenured with a majority being based full time in the building being represented and that all building representatives should teach at least 60% time in the building. This appeal ensued.

Petitioners allege that respondent had no right to "clarify" the existing shared decisionmaking plan and that respondent's clarification violates the shared decisionmaking regulation because respondent failed to consult or collaborate with constituent groups. Petitioners also contend that since the association is the exclusive bargaining agent of teachers in the district, it has the right to decide how teachers will be elected to SBCs. Respondent contends that its clarification was not improper and that the language of the plan is clear regarding teacher participation.

Petitioners allege that respondent's clarification is an amendment to the plan within the meaning of the shared decisionmaking regulation (8 NYCRR 100.11) that requires prior consultation with mandated representatives. Respondent asserts that the clarification was only intended to effectuate the existing provisions of the plan and not to amend the plan as previously approved. Respondent maintains that under such circumstances consultation and collaboration with representative groups is not necessary. The record indicates that while the issue of SBC representation was discussed at the October 11th board meeting, there was no formal resolution or amendment made to the shared decisionmaking plan. I cannot find that the "clarification" discussed at the October 11, 1994 board meeting was improper since it did not alter the plan in any way. Therefore, despite petitioners' allegations, consultation with and full participation of the representatives designated in 8 NYCRR 100.11 was not required.

Petitioners also contend that respondent's clarification of the plan was not permissible because, as the exclusive bargaining agent of teachers in the district, it has the right to chose participating teachers. Section (II)(F)(1) of the district's shared decisionmaking plan provides in pertinent part:

Each participating group will select its own representatives. No more than two of the parent representatives shall be members of the school's PTA Executive Board. The Council shall designate a parent representative to serve as liaison to the PTA.

Respondent contends that the plain language of the plan calls for a participating group to select its representatives and since its plan does not specifically state that the collective bargaining association pick the teacher representatives, all teachers may serve on the SBCs.

Section 8 NYCRR 100.11[b] of the Commissioner's regulations specifically provides that a districtwide plan be developed "in collaboration with a committee composed of the superintendent of schools, administrators selected by the district's administrative bargaining organization(s), teachers selected by the teachers' collective bargaining organization(s) and parents...." However, the regulation is silent concerning the method used to select representatives for site-based management teams once a district's plan is developed and adopted. Therefore, the Commissioner of Education has no authority to determine the method of selection of teacher representatives for site-based management teams once a shared decisionmaking plan is in place. I note, however, that since petitioner association is the exclusive bargaining agent of teachers in the district, it appears that it has the right under respondent's existing plan to select teachers to serve on the SBCs.