Skip to main content

Decision No. 14,983

Appeal of LYNNE GINNANE from action of the Board of Education of the Gananda Central School District regarding a teaching assignment.


(November 19, 2003)


Wayne A. Vander Byl, Esq., attorney for respondent


MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Gananda Central School District ("respondent") to assign another staff member to two Computer Applications courses at respondent"s middle school.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner possesses permanent certification to teach Business Education and has taught in respondent"s district for 24 years.  During the 2002-2003 school year, petitioner taught computer keyboarding to the sixth and seventh grades at the middle school and various business courses at the high school.

For the 2003-2004 school year, respondent restructured its computer and keyboarding curriculum into a three-year sequence of technology courses consisting of Computer Applications 1, 2, and 3 for grades 6, 7 and 8, respectively.  Under the new curriculum, keyboarding skills are included in the Computer Applications courses but keyboarding is no longer a separate, graded course included in a student"s cumulative average.

By memorandum dated June 3, 2003, the middle school principal assigned a teaching assistant to the 7th and 8th grade computer classes under the guidance of a technology teacher, and assigned petitioner to teach only the 6th grade class.  Petitioner also was assigned to teach four courses at the high school, including Yearbook/Marketing, so that she maintained full-time employment.

Apparently, petitioner informed the high school principal that she did not want to teach the yearbook course.  By memorandum dated June 10, 2003, the high school principal offered petitioner the option to decline to teach that course.  He noted, however, that if she declined, she would reduce her schedule to part-time because there were not enough students to create an additional business course at the high school.  Petitioner then sought to teach both the 6th and 7th grade computer courses.  Instead, the superintendent assigned petitioner the yearbook course over her objection to keep her as a full-time employee.

Petitioner asserts that the teaching assistant assigned to the 7th and 8th grade computer classes has no college degree or educational certification and is unqualified to teach those courses.  She seeks an order directing respondent to refrain from assigning teaching assistants in lieu of certified teachers to those courses and to assign her to teach the 7th and 8th grade Computer Applications classes.  Petitioner"s request for interim relief was denied on July 21, 2003.

Respondent contends that the appeal must be dismissed for failure to join the teaching assistant as a necessary party.  In addition, respondent maintains that it acted within its authority to restructure the curriculum and assign teaching personnel.

I must first address a procedural issue.  Petitioner submitted a reply to respondent"s Affidavit in Opposition to a Stay.  Since it was received after the interim order was issued, but before the time to reply to the answer expired, I have considered it in this appeal.

A party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of petitioner is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of Hoffman, 43 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,953; Appeal of Monahan, 42 id. __, Decision No. 14,824; Appeal of Heller, 38 id. 335, Decision No. 14,048).  Joinder requires that an individual be clearly named as a respondent in the caption of the petition and served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition to inform the individual that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense (Appeal of Hoffman, supra; Appeal of Heller, supra).  Because petitioner seeks assignment to duties currently assigned to the teaching assistant, the assistant"s rights would be adversely affected by a determination in petitioner"s favor.  Therefore, the teaching assistant is a necessary party, and the appeal must be dismissed for failure to join her.

The appeal must also be dismissed on the merits.  Petitioner objects to respondent"s restructuring of the computer courses at the middle school and to her teaching assignment.  However, boards of education have broad authority to prescribe the course of study in the schools of the district (Education Law ""1709[3], 1804[1]; Appeal of Murphy, et al., 39 Ed Dept Rep 562, Decision No. 14,311; Appeal of Graham, 39 id. 498, Decision No. 14,292; Appeal of Smith, 34 id. 346, Decision No. 13,335).  As the Commissioner noted in Appeal of Murphy, et al. , supra, the United States Supreme Court has confirmed that school authorities enjoy broad discretion in regulating matters of curriculum (Bd. of Educ., Island Trees U.F.S.D. No. 26 v. Pico, 457 US 853, 869).

In addition, school authorities have broad discretion to assign and transfer teachers.  It is well settled that there is no provision of the Education Law that entitles a teacher to assignment to a particular classroom or building (Appeal of Cerilli, 34 Ed Dept Rep 140, Decision No. 13,262; Appeal of Macchia, 28 id. 545, Decision No. 12,193).  Moreover, respondent has the authority to assign a teaching assistant to the 7th and 8th grade classes to work under the general supervision of a certified teacher (Education Law "3009[2][b] and 8 NYCRR "80-5.6[b]).  Respondent asserts that both the teaching assistant and the technology teacher assigned to supervise her are certified.  I will not substitute my judgment for that of a board on curriculum or teacher assignment issues absent evidence that the board has acted in an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner (Appeal of Murphy, et al., supra; Appeal of Smith, supra; Appeal of Macchia , supra ).      I can make no such finding on the record before me.

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties" remaining arguments.