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Decision No. 13,731

Appeal of WILLIA B. SCREEN, on behalf of DAVID J. SCREEN, from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York regarding violations of Chancellor's Rules and Guidelines.

Decision No. 13,731

(February 4, 1997)

Hon. Paul A. Crotty, Corporation Counsel, attorney for respondent, James A. Costello, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the failure of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York ("respondent") to address complaints concerning her son's educational program. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner's son was enrolled in Midwood High School at the time this appeal was commenced. Petitioner alleges "omission of the services and information required of the Chancellor's Rules Guidelines and programs and omitting school based services required in the Midwood Student Handbook." Although petitioner's claims are not clearly articulated, she appears to be challenging the assignment for extra credit of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, the failure of respondent to award her son 10 points on his Earth Science portfolio, alleged retaliation for complaints filed with respondent, the scheduling of Regents examinations, respondent's recommendation that her son attend summer school, the alleged racial bias of school personnel and other alleged violations of the Chancellor's Rules and Guidelines. Petitioner commenced this appeal on July 15, 1996. Petitioner's request for interim relief pending a determination on the merits was denied on July 31, 1996.

Petitioner alleges various violations, and seeks "compensatory points" for her son in each course in which she alleges a violation. She seeks a "letter of release-exemption" from the summer school requirement. She further seeks compliance orders directed against respondent for the violations she alleges. Respondent contends that the educational program at Midwood High School is nationally recognized, that respondent has been in repeated contact with petitioner concerning her son's teachers, course work, grades, tests and multicultural activities, and that petitioner's claims of racism and other violations of the Chancellor's rules are without merit. Finally, respondent raises procedural defenses, including failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, failure to show that respondent's actions were arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, that the petition is not verified and that the petition is moot insofar as it challenges the student's attendance at summer school, which ended August 12, 1996.

Before reaching the merits, I will address respondent's procedural defense that the petition fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Section 275.10 of the Commissioner's regulations provides that a petition:

shall contain a clear and concise statement of petitioner's claim showing that the petitioner is entitled to relief, and shall further contain a demand for the relief to which the petitioner deems himself entitled. Such statement must be sufficiently clear to advise the respondent of the nature of petitioner's claim and of the specific act or acts complained of.

In this case, petitioner submits a handwritten petition that makes numerous allegations of misconduct by school personnel. Her statements are not clear and concise, and it is difficult to determine the exact nature of the violations she alleges or on what basis she is entitled to the relief she seeks. Therefore, I must dismiss the appeal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The appeal must also be dismissed on the merits. Regarding petitioner's complaints about the Regents examinations, respondent informed petitioner that the scheduling of the examinations was done by the State Board of Regents, and respondent is without authority to reschedule them. Respondent reviewed petitioner's complaints regarding her son's Earth Science project and noted that he received five points for the project, the maximum score he could have received. Although petitioner complained about the assignment of The Jungle and her son's "exposure to the raw, immoral and sexual and often highly disturbing and filthy nature of the book," respondent's history teacher did not assign the book. Petitioner unilaterally determined that her son would submit the report for extra credit. The record indicates that petitioner repeatedly attempted to submit projects to the school that she unilaterally designed and assigned to her son. Nonetheless, the American History teacher reviewed the report hoping it would help the student's average, but ultimately determined that the student was unable to analyze the book's significance in history and did not give any credit for the book report.

The extensive record submitted by respondent in this matter details the long involvement respondent has had with petitioner concerning her son's educational program. Respondent responded to all of petitioner's repeated complaints in a timely and courteous manner. Although petitioner claims that various Chancellor's rules have been violated by respondent, I find no basis for that claim. My review of the record indicates that respondent has made every effort to provide petitioner's son with a quality education. Petitioner's complaints against respondent are unfounded, and there is no basis for me to grant the relief petitioner seeks.

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