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Decision No. 14,289

Appeal of SCOTT SHABOT, on behalf of JORDAN SHABOT, from action of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District relating to school district organization.

Decision No. 14,289

(January 11, 2000)

Greenberg, Wanderman & Fromson, attorneys for respondent, Stephen M. Fromson, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District ("respondent") to reorganize the secondary schools of the school district. The appeal must be dismissed.

On June 2, 1998, respondent approved a plan presented by its superintendent of schools to reorganize the district's secondary schools. Prior to that date, respondent engaged a consulting firm to review options for grade reorganization within the district and report thereon. Respondent had also previously convened an Advisory Committee on Secondary Reorganization comprised of administrators, teachers, students and parents, including petitioner, which submitted a report and recommendations on June 31, 1997. Respondent's superintendent reviewed both reports prior to recommending a plan to respondent on June 2, 1998. The plan provides for two high school buildings housing grades 9 through 12, one high school building housing only grade 9 and one high school building housing grades 10 through 12. The plan also provides for two middle schools, each housing grades 7 and 8.

On February 2, 1999, petitioner initiated this appeal from respondent's June 2, 1998 decision approving the secondary school reorganization plan. Petitioner alleges that respondent approved the reorganization plan without sufficient parental input. Petitioner also asserts the plan is educationally unsound, contending that it fails to alleviate overcrowding in certain secondary school buildings, fails to utilize other secondary buildings to their full capacity, results in an unreasonable increase in the number of students in some 9th grade classes and requires certain students to attend four different school buildings throughout their high school career. Petitioner requests that I nullify the plan adopted by respondent on June 2, 1998.

Respondent alleges that the appeal must be dismissed as untimely. Respondent also asserts that petitioner lacks standing to maintain the appeal. Finally, respondent asserts that its plan for secondary school reorganization was properly approved, is educationally sound and is in all respects proper.

The appeal must be dismissed as untimely. Section 275.16 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education requires that an appeal be initiated within thirty days of the decision or action complained of. In this appeal petitioner is challenging respondent's approval of a school reorganization plan on June 2, 1998. Petitioner did not serve his petition upon respondent until February 2, 1999 – eight months later. In his reply petitioner states that he delayed initiation of the appeal because he was attempting to persuade respondent and its superintendent to amend or reconsider the plan. Petitioner indicates that he contacted respondent and the superintendent several times prior to February 1999 to discuss the matter with them. Only when he became convinced that respondent would not reconsider or amend the plan did petitioner resort to this appeal.

Numerous Commissioner's decisions have held that a request for reconsideration does not extend the time in which to commence an appeal (Appeal of Schneider, 38 Ed Dept Rep 698, Decision No. 14,121; Appeal of Fullam, et al., 38 id. 227, Decision No. 14,021; Appeal of Johnson, 37 id. 467, Decision No. 13,906). The appeal is clearly untimely and, therefore, must be dismissed. In view of this disposition, I will not address petitioner's remaining contentions, which I find to be without merit.