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Decision No. 14,378

Application of REVEREND ROBERT ERNST, on behalf of RAYMOND and DOROTHY LAMBOY, from action of the Board of Education of the William Floyd Union Free School District regarding exemption from health education.

Decision No. 14,378

(May 26, 2000)

Ehrlich, Frazer & Feldman, attorneys for respondent, Christine LaPlace, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner, Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, seeks an exemption from the William Floyd Union Free School District’s eighth-grade health and hygiene curriculum education for Dorothy Lamboy ("Dorothy"), a member of his church. The appeal must be dismissed.

It appears from the papers submitted that Dorothy Lamboy’s parents contacted district officials on September 8, 1999 and requested that Dorothy be exempted from the district’s eighth-grade health and hygiene education curriculum. It further appears that Dorothy was not required to attend any course connected with that curriculum pending a determination by the Commissioner of Education. Petitioner then commenced this appeal. He contends that the eighth-grade health and hygiene curriculum offered by the Board of Education of the William Floyd Union Free School District ("respondent") conflicts with the tenets of the Lutheran religion because it teaches a "world view" and not God’s view. He seeks to have Dorothy exempted from the entire curriculum pursuant to "16.2 of the Rules of the Board of Regents and Education Law "3204(5).

Respondent contends that the appeal is untimely and fails to state a claim. Respondent asserts that its determination that Dorothy may not be exempted from the entire health and hygiene curriculum was reasonable. Respondent also contends that the verification attached to the petition is defective.

Although petitioner submitted his request in the form of an appeal to the Commissioner pursuant to Education Law "310, it does not contest or seek relief from any action by respondent. Instead, it appears to be a petition to the Commissioner for an exemption from respondent’s health and hygiene education curriculum pursuant to Education Law "3204(5) and "16.2 of the Rules of the Board of Regents. Accepting it for that purpose, the request must be denied.

Education Law "3204(5) provides that, subject to rules and regulations of the Board of Regents, a student may be exempted from parts of a health education curriculum that conflict with the religion of his or her parents or guardians. Section 16.2 of the Rules of the Board of Regents provides, in pertinent part:

A petition, duly verified, may be filed with the commissioner by a proper person authorized to represent a religious group on a statewide basis asking that the children of parents or guardians professing the religion of such group be excused from such part of the study in health and hygiene as may be in conflict with the tenets of the religion of such group. Such petition shall contain a statement setting forth the specific area of health and hygiene where such conflict is deemed to exist.

Petitioner purports to represent a religious group. However, he only submitted a photocopy of a form that contains directory information about his church, but offers no explanation regarding the source or relevance of the document. This document fails to demonstrate that petitioner is a "proper person authorized to represent a religious group on a statewide basis" for the purpose of filing an application pursuant 8 NYCRR "16.2. Since the petition does not meet the threshold requirement set forth in the regulation, it must be dismissed.

In light of this disposition, I need not address respondent’s remaining contentions.