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Decision No. 13,508

Appeal of SANDY ORRIS and PAUL KELLY from action of the Board of Education of the Greenville Central School District regarding shared decisionmaking.

Decision No. 13,508

(November 6, 1995)

Bernard F. Ashe, Esq., attorney for petitioners, Mary Scalise Perillo, Esq., of counsel

McCary & Huff, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Kathryn McCary, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal respondent's implementation of a grading policy. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner Sandy Orris is co-president of the Faculty Association, a collective bargaining organization representing teaching and school-related personnel employed by the Board of Education of the Greenville Central School District ("respondent"). Petitioner Paul Kelly is a teacher employed by respondent and a member of the high school shared decisionmaking committee. Respondent's District Plan for Participation of Parents and Teachers in School-based Planning and Shared Decisionmaking to Improve Student Performance ("the plan") was adopted on January 10, 1994 in accordance with 8 NYCRR 100.11.

On March 13, 1995, respondent's principal announced at a faculty meeting that effective with the third quarter report card, quarterly grades of less than 55 would be reported as 55, retroactive to the beginning of the 1994-95 school year. On or about March 22, 1995, the principal implemented the new grading policy and directed clerical staff to change the grades of all students which fell below 55 to a grade of 55. This policy was implemented to address concerns that students who received a very low numerical grade for a quarter would never achieve a passing final grade based on the average of quarterly grades. This appeal ensued.

Petitioners allege that respondent violated its shared decisionmaking plan by failing to submit the issue to the building teams. They seek an order abolishing the grading policy and ask that it be submitted to the appropriate committees. They also request that I order respondent to adhere to the spirit of communication and cooperation in implementing the district plan in the future. Respondent contends that it raised the grading policy issue before the high school shared decisionmaking committee, but that the committee failed and refused to address the issue over an extended period of time, although the issue remains on the committee agenda for consideration. Respondent claims that it did not violate the shared decisionmaking plan.

My review of respondent's shared decisionmaking plan indicates that while student performance is an appropriate issue for discussion under the plan, the plan does not specifically mandate the committee's review of school grading policies. Petitioners cite portions of the plan entitled "High Expectations for Success", "Clear School Mission", "Instructional Leadership", "Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress" and "Curriculum" which they claim require respondent to submit the issue of grading to the shared decisionmaking teams prior to the implementation of a new policy. However, there is no specific discussion in the plan concerning grading policies. Moreover, under Education Law '1709(3), boards of education are empowered to set the course of study by which pupils of the schools shall be graded and classified. Therefore, the principal's determination in this matter, under these circumstances, is not inappropriate.

It appears from the record that there was some miscommunication between the parties regarding the importance of this issue. Respondent claims that it first raised the issue in May 1994, but that the shared decisionmaking committee declined to address it, instead pursuing other priorities. Petitioners, in their reply, claim they had no idea that the grading policy issue was urgent or that it would be implemented imminently. If the parties work hard together to comply with the spirit and letter of the regulation, this kind of miscommunication can be eliminated and the goals of shared decisionmaking can be achieved.