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Decision No. 15,035

Appeal of D.R., on behalf of her children A.R. and J.R., from action of the Board of Education of the Shelter Island Union Free School District and Kenneth A. Lanier, Sr., Superintendent, regarding educational placement.



(March 16, 2004)


Kevin A. Seaman, Esq., attorney for respondents  

Petitioner appeals the denial by the Board of Education of the Shelter Island Union Free School District and its superintendent ("respondents") of her request for placement of her children, A.R. and J.R., in a specific second grade class.  The appeal must be dismissed.

On August 26, 2003, petitioner requested that A.R. and J.R. be transferred from one second grade class to another. On August 27, 2003, the superintendent denied the request.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner"s request for interim relief was denied on October 1, 2003.

Petitioner states that during the 2002-2003 school year, A.R. and J.R."s older brother was assigned to the same second grade teacher to whom A.R. and J.R. are currently assigned.   She alleges that in May 2003,  "at the discretion of this second grade teacher," district employees disciplined the older brother by dragging him to a padded room at the school.  She contends that her entire family suffered physical and emotional damage as a result of this incident, and requests that A.R. and J.R. be placed in another second grade class because she is concerned about their safety.

Respondents assert that they used reasonable criteria to determine A.R. and J.R."s class placement, and deny that their older brother was inappropriately disciplined. 

The purpose of a reply is to respond to affirmative defenses or new material contained in an answer (8 NYCRR ""275.3 and 275.14). It is not meant to buttress or add to the petition"s allegations (8 NYCRR ""275.3 and 275.14; Appeal of Hubbard, 43 Ed Dept Rep __, Decision No. 14,981). Portions of petitioner"s reply buttress and add to petitioner"s claims.  Accordingly, although I have accepted petitioner"s reply, I have considered only those portions responding to new material or affirmative defenses in respondents" answer.


A board of education has broad authority, under Education Law "1709(3), to regulate the admission of students and their transfer from one class to another.  Consistent with that authority, a board has the power to place students in particular classes ( Appeal of a Student with a Disability , 41 Ed Dept Rep 259, Decision No. 14,680 ).  The Commissioner will not substitute his judgment for that of a board of education with respect to student placement, absent evidence that the board has acted in an illegal, arbitrary or capricious manner ( Appeal of a Student with a Disability , supra). 

Based upon my review of the record, I find that respondents acted in a reasonable manner in determining A.R. and J.R."s class placement.  Respondents assigned students to the school"s two second grade classes based on the students" gender, special education needs, management needs and academic performance.  Respondents also took into account that A.R., J.R. and their sister are triplets and have avoided placing all three in the same class since kindergarten.

Petitioner asserts that she is concerned about A.R. and J.R."s safety because of the alleged incident involving their brother the prior year.  In an appeal to the Commissioner, the petitioner has the burden of establishing the facts upon which he or she seeks relief and the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested (8 NYCRR "275.10; Appeal of a Student with a Disability , supra ).  Petitioner fails to establish that A.R. and J.R."s safety is jeopardized as a result of their class placement , or that respondents acted in an illegal, arbitrary or capricious manner.