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Decision No. 13,791

Appeal of a STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY, by his parent, from action of the Board of Education of the Niskayuna Central School District regarding denial of credit.


Decision No. 13,791

(July 18, 1997)

Higgins, Roberts, Beyerl & Coan, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Robert J. Coan, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Education of the Niskayuna Central School District ("respondent") to grant her son credit for a Global Studies course. The appeal must be dismissed.

On October 24, 1994 petitioner's son applied for permission to obtain "credit by examination" for his tenth grade Global Studies course. On December 5, 1994, petitioner and her son met with the Chairman of the Niskayuna High School Social Studies Department, the Director of Individualized Pupil Services and the student's guidance counselor to discuss the requirements for this alternative plan for obtaining course credit which include the completion of a major project approved by the chair of the department offering the course and achievement of a score of 85% or above on a state-developed or state-approved examination. Despite opposition from the student's guidance counselor and the social studies department chair, the high school principal approved the application on December 6, 1994 with the additional condition that petitioner's son take the Regents examination with test modifications as required by his individualized educational program (IEP).

By memoranda dated December 15, 1994, February 13, 1995, March 21, 1995 and June 12, 1995, the department chair expressed concern to the principal and another school administrator that petitioner's son had failed to fulfill the requirements that would allow him to obtain alternative course credit. Specifically, by letters dated March 26, 1995 and April 26, 1995, the department chair informed petitioner of his concerns regarding her son's lack of progress in completing the major project and other required assignments. Despite his failure to complete the required assignments, petitioner's son was allowed to take the Global Studies Regents examination on June 16, 1995 and achieved a score of 88. Respondent's superintendent corresponded with petitioner throughout the 1995/96 school year regarding the other requirements necessary to obtain credit for this course. After consultation with the State Education Department, respondent's superintendent informed petitioner by letter dated July 9, 1996 of respondent's decision on July 8, 1996 that her son would not receive credit until he had completed the requirements set forth in '100.5(d) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Petitioner commenced this appeal on August 13, 1996, requesting that her son be awarded credit for the Global Studies course without fulfilling further requirements.

Petitioner contends that her son should receive credit because he fulfilled the conditions stated on the application for credit-by-examination signed by herself, her son's guidance counselor and department chair, and approved by the principal. She argues that respondent should not be permitted to impose additional work assignments that would "change the rules after the game." Respondent contends that petitioner's son is not entitled to credit and that granting him credit without completion of a required project would be a violation of 8 NYCRR '100.5(d). Respondent also contends that although the student's application form did not set forth all the requirements in Section 100.5(d), petitioner and her son were informed before and after signing the form of the need to complete a major project and other required assignments.

Section 100.5(d) of the Commissioner's Regulations sets forth the requirements for obtaining credit without completing units of study in a particular course, as follows:

(d) Alternatives to specific Regents and local diploma requirements. (1) A student may earn a maximum of 6 1/2 units of credit for either a Regents or local diploma without completing units of study for such units of credit, if:

(i) based on the student's past academic performance, the superintendent of a school district or the chief administrative officer of a nonpublic school, or his or her designee, determines that the student will benefit academically by exercising this alternative:

(ii) the student achieves a score of at least 85 percent, or its equivalent as determined by the commissioner, on a State-developed or State-approved examination;

(iii) the student passes an oral examination or successfully completes a special project to demonstrate proficiency, as determined by the principal, in the subject matter area; and

(iv) the student attends school, or received substantially equivalent instruction elsewhere, in accordance with section 3204(2) of the Education Law, until the age of 16, pursuant to sections 3204 and 3205 of the Education Law. (Emphasis supplied)

Decisions regarding a particular student's eligibility and progress toward meeting the requirements of such an alternative program rest with the board of education (Education Law '1709(3)). When a student challenges such a decision, he or she bears the burden of demonstrating a clear right to the relief requested (Appeal of Marcia E., 35 Ed Dept Rep 331; Appeal of Timbs, 29 id. 392). Barring a showing that a determination not to award credit was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, it will not be set aside (Appeal of Marcia E., supra; Appeal of Burton, 33 id. 211; Appeal of Hickey, 32 id. 12).

In this case, I do not find respondent's actions to be arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. The record indicates that respondent acted reasonably by applying the criteria set forth in '100.5(d) to determine that petitioner's son had not met the necessary requirements to obtain credit. A clear requirement of '100.5(d) is to complete a special project or pass an oral examination, neither of which petitioner's son has demonstrated. The record before me indicates that petitioner and her son were informed repeatedly of this requirement and offered numerous opportunities to fulfill it. Petitioner has, therefore, not carried her burden of proving that respondent's determination was improper.