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Decision No. 13,575

Appeal of ROGER KROLL, on behalf of his daughter, LAUREN KROLL, from action of the Board of Education of the Arlington Central School District regarding class credit.

Decision No. 13,575

(March 18, 1996)

Raymond G. Kuntz, P.C., attorney for respondent, Mario L. Spagnuolo, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Arlington Central School District ("respondent") to grant his daughter, Lauren, credit for tenth grade English. The appeal must be dismissed.

For the four quarters of tenth grade English, Lauren received grades of 81, 76, 72, and 82, respectively. On the final exam, she received a grade of 49, resulting in a final grade of 68. Lauren did not receive credit for English 10, because respondent has a grading policy whereby a student who receives less than a grade of 50 on a final exam fails the course. Although no credits for English were reflected on Lauren's report card, petitioner did not notice the lack of credit. Since he believed that a grade of 65 was passing and was unaware of the final exam policy, petitioner did not understand that Lauren had failed English.

The English final had been given during the last four days of class. On the fourth day, Lauren signed out of school as ill before the exam period. Petitioner alleges that Lauren attempted to reach her English teacher to make up that part of the exam, but that when she finally reached her, the teacher told Lauren that it was too late for make-ups because the exam period was over. Thus, Lauren's grade of 49 reflected three of the four parts of the exam. Respondent maintains that on several occasions the English teacher informed the class of the importance of, and the procedures for, making-up any part of the exam if necessary. Respondent also alleges that Lauren's teacher informed her at the end of the school year that she had not received credit for English and that either she would have to take it in summer school or repeat it the following year.

Lauren also failed math. In math, she received a final grade of 55 and petitioner received a notice from her math teacher indicating that she had failed. Lauren went to summer school repeating math and taking driver's education. Authorization forms permitting Lauren to take these courses were signed by both the guidance counselor and the principal.

In the fall, Lauren's eleventh grade schedule included English 10. When petitioner contacted respondent to clear up what he thought to be an error, he was informed that Lauren had failed English 10 due to her final exam grade of 49. Petitioner contacted the principal, who directed an evaluation team review the exam. The team gave the exam a score of 45. Consequently, the principal refused to give Lauren credit for the course. Petitioner appealed to the superintendent and to the board of education with no relief. This appeal ensued. Petitioner's request for interim relief pending a determination on the merits was denied on November 15, 1995.

Petitioner claims that the district policy is flawed and that the school was negligent in not informing Lauren that she had failed English. He argues that she would have arranged to repeat English in summer school had they been advised, that based on Lauren's grades it is not necessary for her to repeat English 10, and that it will be an unnecessary hardship for Lauren to take both eleventh and twelfth grade English during her senior year. Respondent contends, inter alia, that its actions were consistent with district policy which is not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.

Pursuant to Education Law '1709(3), school boards have the power and duty:

To prescribe the course of study by which the 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 shall warrant.

It is well settled that the Commissioner will not substitute his judgment for that of a board of education with regard to a student's grade absent a clear showing that the board's determination was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable (Appeal of Timbs, 29 Ed Dept Rep 392; Appeal of Richardson, 29 id. 70).

This is an unfortunate situation. While I sympathize with petitioner's distress over being unaware that his daughter did not receive course credit for tenth grade English, Lauren's report card did reflect that no credit was granted. Furthermore, I share petitioner's concern that both a guidance counselor and a principal would approve a student to take driver's education in summer school where the student had failed English, without first discussing the matter with her or her parents. However, based on the record before me, I am constrained to find that Lauren's grade was consistent with district policy, and that the policy is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable. Therefore, I find no basis to substitute my judgment for that of respondent.