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Decision No. 16,563

 

 Appeal of MIRLANDE ULCEUS, on behalf of her daughter MELANIE, from action of the Board of Education of the Roosevelt Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 16,563

(October 15, 2013)

Lamb & Barnosky, LLP, attorneys for respondent, LaurenSchnitzer, Esq.

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Roosevelt Union Free School District (“respondent”) denying her daughter transportation to a nonpublic school for the 2012-2013school year. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides within respondent’s school district. According to the record, on or about April 10,2012, the district received petitioner’s request for transportation for her daughter to Long Island Lutheran(“LI Lutheran”), a nonpublic school, for the 2012-2013school year. By letter dated April 26, 2012, the district’s interim assistant superintendent of finance and operations (“assistant superintendent”) advised petitioner that her request was denied on the grounds that it was untimely because it was submitted after the April 1st deadline for transportation requests. The letter further informed petitioner that April 1st is the deadline for transportation requests for each subsequent school year and provided her with a list of places and publications where the district provides the public with notice of this deadline.

By letter dated June 15, 2012, petitioner and her husband advised a member of respondent’s board that, inter alia, they did not receive the apparently customary annual notice in the mail from the district reminding them of the April 1st deadline for transportation requests. The letter further stated that, under these circumstances, petitioner and her husband should not be faulted for their failure to make a timely transportation request.

By letter dated June 18, 2012, the district’s superintendent advised petitioner and her husband that he was upholding the decision to deny their transportation

request due to its untimeliness. This letter also informed petitioner and her husband that this determination could be appealed to respondent.

Subsequently, petitioner appealed the superintendent’s determination to respondent. According to respondent, during a July 26, 2012 board meeting, the board duly voted and resolved not to approve petitioner’s untimely transportation request. This appeal ensued. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on September 6, 2012.

Petitioner is seeking transportation for her daughter to LI Lutheran for the 2012-2013 school year and alleges that respondent mailed a denial card on April 26, 2012 without a written explanation of the reason transportation was denied. The petition is otherwise devoid of any arguments as to why her daughter is entitled to such transportation.

Respondent argues that the petition must be dismissed because it is not verified, it does not contain the required notice, it does not explain why her daughter is entitled to transportation and it does not contain a demand for relief, other than a request for a stay.

Respondent further contends that petitioner’s transportation request was untimely. Respondent also asserts that, although it is not pled in the petition, the fact that petitioner did not receive a mailing from the district reminding her of the April 1st deadline for transportation requests is not a reasonable excuse for the delay. Respondent states that the district would incur additional costs to provide transportation to petitioner’s daughter and, therefore, it did not have to provide such transportation.

I must first address several procedural issues. Respondent maintains that petitioners failed to file a notice in accordance with §§275.11 and 276.1(b) of the Commissioner’s regulations. The copy of the petition filed in my Office of Counsel contains the notice required by §275.11. Therefore, I will not dismiss the petition for lack of notice. Since petitioners’ request for interim relief was previously denied, I need not address the alleged violation of §276.1(b).

The appeal must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. A petition must contain “a clear and concise statement of the petitioner’s claim showing that the petitioner is entitled to relief, and shall further contain a demand for the relief to which

the petitioner deems himself entitled” (8 NYCRR §275.10).Such statement must be sufficiently clear to advise a respondent of the nature of petitioner’s claim and of the specific act or acts complained of (id.). Where petitioner is not represented by counsel, a liberal interpretation of this regulation is appropriate absent prejudice to the opposing party (Appeal of Stieffenhofer, 48 Ed Dept Rep231, Decision No. 15,846; Application of Schenk, 47 id. 375, Decision No. 15,729). Where a petition fails to state a comprehensible claim and fails to identify the specific remedy sought, it will be dismissed (see Appeal of Stepien,48 Ed Dept Rep 487, Decision No. 15,926; Appeal of Darrow,43 id. 394, Decision No. 15,029).

The petition in this appeal fails to satisfy these standards because it does not explain why petitioner’s daughter is entitled to transportation and it does not contain a demand for relief, other than a request for a stay. Accordingly, the petition must be dismissed for failure to comply with 8 NYCRR §275.10.

The appeal must also be dismissed as moot. The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest(Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 Ed Dept Rep 532,Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; Appeal of Embro, 48 id. 204, Decision No.15,836). The 2012-2013 school year has ended and, therefore, the issue of petitioner’s request for transportation for that school year is moot.

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED. END OF FILE