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Decision No. 14,866

Appeal of MARY C. McKENNA, EUGENE P. McKENNA, DAWN NOSTRAND FINN and TERRI KLAUSNER-FAILS from action of the Board of Education of the South Orangetown Central School District regarding shared decisionmaking.



(April 29, 2003)


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

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the decision of the Board of Education of the South Orangetown Central School District ("respondent") to reassign a principal from an elementary school to the middle school.  Petitioners allege that the reassignment was made in violation of shared decisionmaking requirements and respondent"s past practice.  The appeal must be dismissed.   

Petitioners are residents of respondent"s district.  At its meeting of May 7, 2002, respondent approved the recommendations of its superintendent concerning the hiring, assignment and reassignment of various district administrators, including the reassignment of an elementary school principal to its middle school.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioners request a determination that respondent"s action was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to sound educational policy.  Petitioners further request a determination that respondent must conform to the shared decisionmaking regulations and must follow its own past practice by forming a search committee for a new middle school principal with representatives of affected constituent groups.  While petitioners do not expressly ask me to nullify the appointment of the middle school principal, that step is a necessary component of the relief requested.  Respondent asserts that the petition must be dismissed because petitioners lack standing and because they failed to join a necessary party.  Petitioners" request for interim relief was denied on June 18, 2002.

The appeal must be dismissed for failure to join necessary parties.  A party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of a petitioner is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of Lawson, 42 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,826; Appeal of Olsen, 42 id. ___, Decision No. 14,761; Appeal of Reed, et al., 33 id. 216, Decision No. 13,029).   Petitioners seek to remove the middle school principal, return her to her former assignment at the elementary school, and re-commence the hiring process for the middle school principal position.  Clearly, a determination in petitioners" favor would adversely affect both the middle school principal and the person now assigned to her former position at the elementary school.  Accordingly, petitioners" failure to join those individuals as parties requires dismissal of the appeal.

In light of this determination, I need not address the parties" remaining contentions.