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Decision No. 14,535

Appeal of WILLIAM STRIS from action of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for Nassau County and the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four regarding an election.

Decision No. 14,535

(February 6, 2001)

Guercio & Guercio, Esqs., attorneys for petitioner, Maureen Vrona, Esq., of counsel

Brauner Baron Rosenzweig & Klein, LLP, attorneys for respondent Board of Cooperative Educational Services, David Kay, Esq., of counsel

George Shebitz & Associates, P.C., attorneys for respondent Board of Education, Stephanie Waters, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for Nassau County ("respondent BOCES") to accept his nomination as a candidate for election to the BOCES board. The appeal must be dismissed.

On April 18, 2000, respondent BOCES conducted an election for membership to its board. Respondent BOCES is comprised of three central high school districts: Sewanhaka Central High School District, Valley Stream Central High School District and Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. The Valley Stream Central High School District is comprised of a number of elementary school districts, including Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen and Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four. Petitioner resides in Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen and serves on the board of education for that district, as well as the board of education of the Valley Stream Central High School District.

In connection with respondent BOCES' April 18, 2000 election, the boards of education of three component school districts nominated petitioner as candidate for membership to respondent BOCES’ board. Petitioner was nominated by Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four, Valley Stream Central High School District and Sewanhaka Central High School District. Such nominations were transmitted to respondent BOCES' clerk in excess of thirty days before the election.

By letters dated March 10, 2000, respondent BOCES’ clerk notified the Board of Education of the Sewanhaka Central High School District and the Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four, respectively, that petitioner’s nomination was rejected. Similarly, on March 16, 2000, respondent BOCES’ clerk notified the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Central High School District that its nomination of petitioner was rejected.

The letters indicated that petitioner’s nomination was rejected because Education Law "1950(2-a)(b) "does not permit the nomination or election of a person from a district which currently has a resident on the BOCES board, unless the term of office of that board member ends this June." Respondent indicated that Arline Strumeyer, a resident of Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen, was currently serving on respondent BOCES’ board until June 2001. Because Ms. Strumeyer had been nominated in 1998 for membership on the BOCES board by both the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Central High School District and the Board of Education of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four, and was thereafter elected to the BOCES board, respondent BOCES determined that, pursuant to Education Law "1950(2-a)(b), Ms. Strumeyer was deemed a resident of both districts for purposes of election to the BOCES board and that, therefore, petitioner could not also be nominated by those districts.

Petitioner also indicates that, during the prior BOCES board election held in April 1999, he had been nominated as a candidate to the BOCES board by the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen. At that time respondent BOCES rejected petitioner’s nomination based on the fact that Ms. Strumeyer was currently serving on the BOCES board and had been nominated for election to that office by Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen.

Petitioner challenges respondent BOCES' rejection of his nomination by the Board of Education of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four. He alleges that, although he is precluded from nomination by the Board of Education of Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen based upon his and Ms. Strumeyer’s residency in that district, he is not precluded from nomination by the Board of Education of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four. He contends that, although nominated by multiple component districts, once elected Ms. Strumeyer can only be considered a resident of Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen – where she actually resides. He further claims that he should be deemed a resident of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four pursuant to Education Law "1950(2-a)(b) and, thus, may be nominated by that district’s board of education as a candidate for election to respondent BOCES board.

Respondent BOCES claims that, in conducting its April 18, 2000 election of board members, it fully complied with the provisions of Education Law "1950(2-a)(b). It contends that, therefore, its rejection of petitioner’s nomination was in all respects proper. Respondent BOCES also contends petitioner lacks standing to assert a claim against it. Finally, respondents BOCES asserts petitioner’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations and laches.

Respondent BOCES' contention that petitioner lacks standing to maintain this appeal is without merit. Pursuant to Education Law "310, an individual may not maintain an appeal unless aggrieved in the sense that he or she has suffered personal damage or injury to his or her civil, personal or property rights. Only persons directly affected by the action being appealed have standing (Appeal of Allen, 40 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,501; Appeal of Murphy, 39 id. 562, Decision No. 14,311). It is unquestionable that petitioner is directly affected by respondent BOCES' refusal to accept his nomination to run for a seat on the board. Thus, he has standing to assert that, in rejecting his nomination, respondent BOCES violated his rights.

Respondent BOCES' statute of limitation and laches defense to the petition also is without merit. Pursuant to 8 NYCRR "275.16, an appeal to the Commissioner of Education must be initiated within 30 days of the date of the action complained of or decision sought to be reviewed. I note that the letters regarding petitioner’s nomination were dated March 10 and March 16, 2000. Petitioner initiated this appeal on April 6, 2000 – within the 30 day time period. Therefore, I find the appeal timely.

Nevertheless, the appeal must be dismissed on the merits. Education Law "1950(2-a)(b) provides in pertinent part:

No nomination of a person to be elected to a board of cooperative educational services from a component district which currently has a resident serving on such board shall be accepted unless such member’s office is to expire at the end of the current year, unless the size of such board exceeds the number of component school districts or unless an unrepresented district declines to make a nomination.

The subdivision further provides:

For purposes of this subdivision, any such person or board member nominated by a… central high school district or any district which is a component of a central high school district shall be deemed a resident of the district that nominated him or her only.

The record indicates that in 1998 Arline Strumeyer was nominated as a candidate for office to respondent BOCES by Valley Stream Central High School District, Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen and Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four. She was elected to serve on the BOCES until June 2001. Education Law "1950(2-a)(c) provides that an individual elected to a BOCES is deemed a resident of the district that nominated him or her. Therefore, for purposes of election and representation on the BOCES board, Ms. Strumeyer is deemed a resident of Valley Stream Central High School District, Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen and Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four pursuant to Education Law "1950(2-a)(b) and (c). Because she is, thus, deemed a resident of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four, petitioner’s request that he be considered a resident of that same district for purposes of nomination by that district cannot be granted. Petitioner may not have it both ways. If he is to be considered a resident of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four – although he actually resides in Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen – for the purpose of nomination and election to respondent BOCES pursuant to Education Law "1950(2-a)(b), then so must Ms. Strumeyer who was nominated and elected under exactly the same circumstance. Because Ms. Strumeyer is considered a resident of both Valley Stream Union Free School District Thirteen on the basis of her actual residency and is a resident of Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four by virtue of the provisions of Education Law "1950(2-a)(b) and (c), petitioner is precluded from being nominated by those boards for service on respondent BOCES board. His nomination by the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Union Free School District Twenty-four, therefore, was properly rejected. I note that petitioner does not assert any of the exceptions set forth in Education Law "1950(2-a)(b) which would warrant a contrary result.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE