Skip to main content

Decision No. 17,227

Appeal of P.H-K., on behalf of her son C.K., from action of the Board of Education of the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District, and Superintendent Dr. Steven Cohen regarding grading.

Decision No. 17,227

(October 23, 2017)

Guercio & Guercio, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Bonnie L. Gorham, Esq., of counsel

ELIA, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District (“respondent board” or “board”) and Superintendent Dr. Steven Cohen (“superintendent”) (collectively “respondents”) regarding a grade of zero awarded to her son, C.K.  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2011-2012 school year, C.K. was a tenth- grade student in the district high school’s American Sign Language (“ASL”) class.  Students in the ASL class were assessed, in part, through expressive videotape evaluations conducted during the ASL class.  A videotape evaluation was conducted on May 3 and 4 for which C.K. was given a grade of zero.  Petitioner requested that the class teacher remove the zero grade from C.K.’s fourth quarter ASL grade point average.  A number of email exchanges between petitioner and the teacher ensued.  The teacher declined to remove the zero grade after determining that the work had not been completed or made up prior to the end of the fourth quarter marking period.

By email dated September 19, petitioner expressed concern to respondent board regarding C.K.’s grade and requested that the board direct school administrators to remove the zero grade from C.K.’s fourth quarter ASL average.

By email dated September 25, following a series of communications from petitioner and a review of petitioner’s email to the board, the superintendent determined that C.K. had failed to timely complete the required assignment or to make it up and he therefore declined petitioner’s request to remove the grade in question.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner maintains that C.K. missed the ASL videotape evaluation due to an excused absence on May 3 and that, and in accordance with school policy, C.K. should have been afforded the opportunity to subsequently take the evaluation.  Petitioner claims that the ASL teacher did not provide C.K. with an adequate opportunity to take the evaluation following his absence despite his attempts to do so.  Petitioner maintains that the board failed to respond to her complaint.  Petitioner requests that the zero grade be removed from C.K.’s fourth quarter ASL grade point average and that his transcript be amended accordingly.

Respondent maintains that petitioner has failed to meet her burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested.  Respondent argues that the district’s actions were not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable and were rational and in accordance with the law.

It is well-established that decisions regarding student grading rest initially with the classroom teacher and ultimately with the board of education (see Education Law §§1709[3], 1804[1], 1805; Appeal of B.M., 45 Ed Dept Rep 281, Decision No. 15,323).  The Commissioner will not substitute her judgment for that of school officials with regard to the determination of a student’s grade absent a clear showing that the determination was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable (see e.g. Appeal of Megan M., 38 Ed Dept Rep 807; Decision No. 14,149; Appeal of John W. and Lorraine W., 37 id. 713, Decision No. 13,965; Appeal of Hickey, 32 id. 12, Decision No. 12,741).  The district’s attendance records indicate that C.K. was present in the ASL class on both May 3 and 4, the dates of the videotape evaluation and, despite this, did not complete the assignment by the assignment deadline.  The record also indicates that C.K.’s teacher provided him with an opportunity to meet with her and to make up the missed videotape evaluation, which he failed to do prior to the end of the fourth quarter grading period.  Other than petitioner’s conclusory assertions, the petition is completely devoid of any evidence to support her claims.    While the record indicates that the student had an unexcused absence from second period on May 4, it also indicates that he attended all other classes that day including his ninth-period ASL class.  In an appeal to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and the burden of establishing the facts upon which petitioner seeks relief (8 NYCRR §275.10; Appeal of Aversa, 48 Ed Dept Rep 523, Decision No. 15,936; Appeal of Hansen, 48 id. 354, Decision No. 15,884; Appeal of P.M., 48 id. 348, Decision No. 15,882).  On the record before me, therefore petitioner has failed to meet her burden to establish that respondent acted in an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner.