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Decision No. 15,560

Appeal of R.C. and D.C., on behalf of their son B.C., from action of the Board of Education of the Charlotte Valley Central School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 15,560

(March 30, 2007)

James E. Konstanty, Esq., attorney for petitioner

Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, Surowka & DeWind, LLP, attorneys for respondents, James A. Gregory, Esq. of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the suspension of their son from extracurricular activities by the Board of Education of the Charlotte Valley Central School District (“respondent”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2006-2007 school year, petitioners’ son attended ninth grade at the Charlotte Valley Central School.  On the morning of September 27, 2006, the school’s athletic director reported to the principal that petitioner’s son, B.C., and another male student, A.P., urinated on a female student’s car while it was parked on school grounds following a soccer game.  That same morning, the principal interviewed the female student, S.B., who complained that A.P. and B.C. urinated on her car while she was sitting inside it with another student, T.M.  The principal also interviewed T.M., who confirmed that he was present and reported the same facts as S.B.  The principal then interviewed petitioner’s son, who admitted urinating on the car in the presence of S.B. and T.M., following a soccer game the previous afternoon.  The other accused student, A.P. was interviewed separately and also admitted his involvement in the incident.  The principal reported that both S.B. and her mother, who works at the district, told him they were very upset by the event.  The principal suspended A.P. and B.C. for five days and referred the matter to the superintendent.

On October 4, 2006, the principal and superintendent met with petitioners and their son, who admitted that he urinated on S.B.’s car while she was present.

By letter dated October 5, 2006, petitioners were notified by the superintendent that a formal hearing would be held to consider a suspension of six days or more.  Petitioners were present at the superintendent’s hearing on October 24, 2006 and the principal testified for the district.  The superintendent reviewed the hearing officer’s written recommendation, along with the exhibits and audiotapes of the hearing and determined that some of the comments and testimony at the hearings were inaudible.  Rather than reschedule a new hearing to consider a possible long-term suspension from instruction, the superintendent chose to impose a lesser discipline of suspension from extracurricular activities for the remainder of the school year, until June 30, 2007.

By letter dated October 26, 2006, petitioners were provided a copy of the hearing officer’s recommendation and notified of the superintendent’s decision to suspend B.C. from all extracurricular and co-curricular activities through June 30, 2007.  Petitioner’s appeal of the superintendent’s decision was denied by respondent on November 14, 2006.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on December 13, 2006.

Petitioners contend that respondent’s failure to maintain a verbatim record nullified the superintendent’s hearing and the subsequent suspension imposed on B.C. from participating in extracurricular activities.  Petitioners assert that, even had the tape recording of the hearing been audible, respondent’s reliance on hearsay testimony from the principal was insufficient proof to support the charges against B.C. and to guarantee his right to question witnesses against him.  Petitioners also contend that respondent did not meet its obligations regarding its code of conduct, including, interalia, that no proof was provided that B.C. read the code of conduct, only that he signed a receipt that he would deliver it to his parents.

Respondent contends that B.C. received a copy of the code of conduct at the beginning of the school year and admitted signing a receipt for the handbook.  Respondent also contends that public urination is illegal and that B.C. received far more than the minimal due process to which he is entitled prior to a suspension from extracurricular activities.  Respondent asserts that no hearing record is required for suspension from extracurricular activities.  Respondent denies that the superintendent’s decision was based solely upon hearsay and asserts that the student made a direct admission to both the principal and superintendent at the meeting on October 4, 2006,  providing sufficient evidence for the suspension.

In-school suspensions and suspensions from extracurricular activities are not governed by Education Law §3214 and do not require a full hearing (Appeal of N.C., 42 Ed Dept Rep 119, Decision No. 14,794).  Procedures governing in-school suspensions and suspensions from extracurricular privileges need only be fair and give students and parents an opportunity to discuss the conduct being reviewed with the person or body authorized to impose the discipline (Appeal of N.C., 42 Ed Dept Rep 119, Decision No. 14,794; Appeal of Denis, 40 id. 306, Decision No. 14,487; Appeal of Michael J.A., 39 id. 501, Decision No. 14,293).

Petitioners and their son were provided notice and an opportunity to meet with the principal and superintendent prior to imposition of the suspension from extracurricular activities.  Respondent imposed the discipline only after considering B.C.’s admission and statements from witnesses to the incident.  Based on the record before me, I find that petitioners’ son was afforded adequate due process prior to the suspension from extracurricular activities.  Accordingly, I decline to disturb respondent’s determination. 

I have considered petitioners’ remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.