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Decision No. 13,510

Appeal of LELAND D. RYAN, CLAUDE F. SPROWLS, DOUGLAS F. WATSON, SUZAN D. LA DUE, JOHN B. SIBLEY, JR. AND PENNY J. LA FAVE from action of the Board of Education of the Harrisville Central School District and Scott Baker, President, relating to a school district election.

Decision No. 13,510

(November 11, 1995)

Sanders D. Heller, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the determination of the Board of Education of the Harrisville Central School District ("respondent") to change the date of the district's annual meeting to June 27, 1995. The appeal must be dismissed.

On March 13, 1995, respondent board adopted a resolution establishing May 23, 1995 as the date for the district's annual meeting and May 24, 1995 as the date for the vote on the district's proposed budget. On April 24, 1995, respondent board adopted a resolution recognizing William Cross, Charles Ripley and Leland Ryan as the candidates for the open board of education seat to be filled at the district's annual meeting. At the time of this resolution, respondent board apparently believed that the open seat on the board of education was a result of the expiration of the term of the seat held by Charles Ripley. At the May 8, 1995 board meeting, respondent board was presented with letters which alleged that it was Neil Bousman's rather than Charles Ripley's term on the board of education which was due to expire at the conclusion of the school year, and that the candidates listed in notices for election to the board of education were therefore in error.

Respondent board investigated the terms of board members Ripley and Bousman and discovered that an error had, in fact, been made. At a meeting held on May 11, 1995, respondent rescheduled the district's annual meeting to June 27, 1995 and budget vote to June 28, 1995. On May 13, 1995, notice of the new date for the district's annual meeting was publicized in the district's official newspaper. That notice indicated that the five year term of board member Neil Bousman was due to expire at the conclusion of the school year and would be filled by a vote taken at the district's annual meeting. This appeal followed. Petitioners sought an immediate stay from the Commissioner of Education seeking to have the election held on May 23, 1995. While this stay request was pending, petitioners sought judicial relief in Supreme Court, Lewis County. On May 23, 1995, the judicial relief requested by petitioners was denied. On June 27, 1995, petitioner Ryan was elected to the board of education.

Petitioners assert that the adoption of a resolution changing the date of the annual meeting at the May 11, 1995 special meeting of the board of education was done in violation of the Education Law. Petitioners further contend that changing the date of the annual meeting was done to enable Neil Bousman time to campaign and violates petitioners' right "to cast an effective vote" (citing from petitioners' papers). Petitioners assert respondent should merely have extended the time in which Neil Bousman could file a nominating petition. Respondents contend that the changes in the date of the annual meeting were properly adopted and afforded an opportunity for all candidates to campaign.

This appeal must be dismissed as moot. The record reflects that the election occurred on June 27, 1995. Accordingly, the relief petitioners request -- that I order respondent to hold the election on May 23, 1995 -- cannot be granted. Since the Commissioner only decides matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exists, or which subsequent events have laid to rest, the appeal is moot (Appeal of Evans, 33 Ed Dept Rep 572; Appeal of Chrisfield, 33 id. 463).

Based upon the foregoing, I will not address the remaining contentions.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE