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Decision No. 14,002

Appeal of R.N., Jr., on behalf of R.N. III, from action of the Board of Education of the Rondout Valley Central School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 14,002

(August 27, 1998)

Shaw & Perelson, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Garrett L. Silviera, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the action of the Board of Education of the Roundout Valley Central School District ("respondent") and its superintendent, regarding his son's suspension and implementation of its student suspension policy. The appeal must be dismissed.

On March 21, 1997, petitioner's son was suspended from school for one day for conduct that endangered health and safety by going onto the school roof on March 13, 1997 to get a racquetball. On March 26, 1997, petitioner wrote to respondent's superintendent complaining that parental notice was not provided prior to the suspension and asking that he investigate whether respondent's suspension policy is in conflict with Education Law. On April 16, 1997, the superintendent expunged the record of the suspension because the written notice of the March 21, 1997 suspension was not delivered to petitioner consistent with the requirements of the Commissioner's regulations (the notice was mailed to petitioner on March 21, 1997) and because the student was not provided an informal conference with the principal. Further, in a memorandum dated April 16, 1997, the superintendent directed the principal to sign the office referral form for any out of school suspension.

By letter dated May 5, 1997, petitioner provided respondent with correspondence between himself and the superintendent regarding his son's suspension. Petitioner further requested that respondent investigate the incident and otherwise ensure that its suspension policy conforms with Education Law and current judicial decisions. On May 28, 1997, the superintendent informed petitioner that respondent discussed petitioner's request at its May 14, 1997 meeting but took no formal action. The superintendent referred petitioner to the board president for additional information. Petitioner then commenced this appeal.

Petitioner requests a hearing concerning the suspension practices of the Rondout Valley School and an order directing respondent to comply with Education Law. Respondent contends that the appeal is moot because the suspension of petitioner's son was expunged from his education record. Respondent also contends that petitioner lacks standing because his son graduated from high school and no actual case or controversy exists. Finally, respondent contends that its policy concerning student suspension fully comports with Education Law "3214 and 8 NYCRR 100.2(1).

I will first consider the procedural issues. Although petitioner's son has graduated, because he challenges respondent's suspension policy, I decline to dismiss the appeal as moot (Appeal of Strada, 34 Ed Dept Rep 629). As for standing, although the suspension of petitioner's son has been expunged from the educational record, petitioner is nevertheless aggrieved on behalf of his son because the student lost a day of school as a result of the suspension.

With regard to the merits, Commissioner's regulation 8 NYCRR 100.2(1)(4) requires that parents be notified of a suspension for a period of five days or less:

(4) Parental notice of student suspensions. Where a student is suspended from attendance for a period of five days or less pursuant to section 3214(3) of the Education Law, school district officials shall immediately notify the parents or the persons in parental relation in writing that the student has been suspended from school. Written notice shall be provided by personal delivery, express mail delivery, or equivalent means reasonably calculated to assure receipt of such notice within 24 hours of the suspension at the last known address or addresses of the parents or persons in parental relation. Where possible, notification shall also be provided by telephone if the school has been provided with a telephone number(s) for the purpose of contacting parents or persons in parental relation. Such notice shall provide a description of the incident(s) which resulted in the suspension and shall inform the parents or persons in parental relation of their right to request an immediate informal conference with the principal in accordance with the provisions of Education Law, section 3214(3)(d). Such notice and informal conference shall be in the dominant language or mode of communication used by the parents or persons in parental relation to the suspended pupil.

Respondent admits that petitioner's son was suspended without proper notice and also cites section 5313.3R(3) of its suspension policy which requires notice consistent with the requirements of 8 NYCRR 100.2(l)(4). Based on the record before me, I find that respondent acted reasonably in expunging the suspension from the student's record and took proper steps to ensure that notice is afforded parents in the future, consistent with board policy and 8 NYCRR 100.2(l)(4).

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

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