Skip to main content

Decision No. 18,079

Appeal of PAUL PUSKULDJIAN from action of the Board of Education of the North Shore Central School District and superintendent Peter Giarrizzo regarding financial practices.

Decision No. 18,079

(January 27, 2022)

Frazer & Feldman, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Wade C. Wilkinson, Esq., of counsel.

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the budget reporting practices of the Board of Education of the North Shore Central School District (“the board”) and superintendent Peter Giarrizzo (collectively, “respondents”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner generally contends that respondents have not produced or presented to the board a budget status report “during any period” in violation of the Education Law.  For relief, petitioner seeks orders requiring the board to appoint an independent budget oversight committee, to produce all required reports and make them publicly available to taxpayers, and, finally, to require respondents to “improve transparency in spending, budget, and [f]und [b]alance[s].”

Respondents argue that the appeal must be dismissed, among other reasons, for failure to establish a clear legal right to the relief requested.  Respondents further contend that any alleged actions or omissions that occurred more than 30 days prior to service of the petition are untimely.  On the merits, respondents contend that they have satisfied their budget reporting responsibilities.

First, I must address the scope of the record.  The purpose of a reply is to respond to new material or affirmative defenses set forth in an answer (8 NYCRR 275.3, 275.14).  A reply is not meant to buttress allegations in the petition or belatedly add assertions that should have been raised in the petition (Appeal of Nappi, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,300; Appeal of Caswell, 48 id. 472, Decision No. 15,920; Appeal of Hinson, 48 id. 437, Decision No. 15,908).  Therefore, while I have reviewed the reply, I have not considered those portions containing new allegations or exhibits that are not responsive to new material or affirmative defenses set forth in the answer.  Consequently, it is unnecessary to consider respondents’ sur-reply (Appeal of Murphy, 61 Ed Dept, Decision No. 18,018; Appeal of Pulizzi, et al., 57 id., Decision No. 17,249).

The appeal must be dismissed for failure to set forth a clear and concise statement.  8 NYCRR 275.10 requires that each petition “contain a clear and concise statement of the petitioner’s claim showing that the petitioner is entitled to relief ....”  This statement “must be sufficiently clear to advise the respondent of the nature of petitioner’s claim and of the specific act or acts complained of.”  The petition does not identify the dates of any acts or omissions by respondent, merely asserting that respondent board “violated NYS Education Law by not producing and presenting the Budget Status Report” (emphasis omitted).  I find that this broad allegation precluded respondents from identifying the “specific act or acts complained of” and preparing a meaningful defense thereto.  As such, the appeal must be dismissed (Appeal of Reyes, 34 Ed Dept Rep 242, Decision No. 13,296).

In any event, I note that respondents have submitted ample evidence refuting petitioner’s assertions.  The board’s assistant superintendent for business (“assistant superintendent”) avers in an affidavit that respondent has properly produced and presented the budget status report on a monthly and/or quarterly basis as required by law.[1]  The assistant superintendent attaches meeting minutes from two recent board meetings, held on February 25 and March 11, 2021, reflecting the board’s adoption of a treasurer’s report at each meeting.  The assistant superintendent further asserts that additional board meeting minutes are available on the district’s website and indicate “presentation and approval” of monthly budget status reports.  This evidence refutes any suggestion that respondents violated their budget reporting obligations (see Appeal of Sidmore, 58 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,463).[2]




[1] The school district treasurer is responsible for the presentation to the board of the budget status report for each fund quarterly—or monthly if transfers were made (see Education Law § 2122 [6]).  The format for this presentation is set forth in part 170 of the Commissioner’s regulations.


[2] The record also contains “Monthly Budget Status Reports” for the 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 school years, which include line-item general fund budget information for various school accounts.