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Decision No. 16,723

Appeal of R.M. and M.M., on behalf of their daughter A.M., from action of the Board of Education of the Miller Place Union Free School District regarding the denial of course credit. 

Appeal of R.M. and M.M., on behalf of their daughter J.M., from action of the Board of Education of the Miller Place Union Free School District regarding the denial of course credit.

Decision No. 16,723

(March 18, 2015)

James Cammarata, Esq., attorney for petitioners

Guercio & Guercio, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Kathryn J. Maier, Esq., of counsel 

BERLIN, Acting Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal actions of the Board of Education of the Miller Place Union Free School District (“respondent”) denying their daughters certain course credit.  Because the appeals present similar issues of fact and law, they are consolidated for decision. The appeals must be dismissed. 

Petitioners’ daughters attended high school in respondent's district during the 2009-2010 school year.  During the spring 2010 semester, petitioners were notified that, based on violations of the district’s attendance policy, A.M. was denied credit in Spanish and physical education, and J.M. was denied credit in psychology and physical education.  Petitioners appealed both denials of credit to respondent’s superintendent and, by letter dated April 16, 2010, the superintendent denied the appeals.  Subsequently, petitioners left the district and moved to the Port Jefferson Union Free School District (“Port Jefferson”), where they enrolled their daughters at Port Jefferson High School for the 2010-2011 school year.  Thereafter, in July 2011, when the students were in attendance at Port Jefferson, this appeal ensued. 

Petitioners assert that their daughters earned passing grades in the courses at issue and that, therefore, respondent should have awarded them credit.  Petitioners also claim that their daughters were absent due to special circumstances and that respondents should have exercised discretion and awarded them course credit, notwithstanding such absences.

Respondent contends that the appeals are both untimely and moot; that petitioners fail to state a claim and lack standing to maintain the appeals; and that its decision to deny the students credit was proper.

The appeals must be dismissed on procedural grounds.  An appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of, unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR §275.16; Appeal of Lippolt, 48 Ed Dept Rep 457, Decision No. 15,914; Appeal of Williams, 48 id. 343, Decision No. 15,879).  Here, petitioners commenced the appeals on July 15, 2011, fourteen months after the superintendent’s April 16, 2010 decisions challenged herein.  As explanation, petitioners assert that they did not realize the impact of respondent’s actions until after their daughters began attending school in Port Jefferson.  However, the April 16, 2010 decision of the superintendent clearly stated, “If you are dissatisfied with this decision, you may appeal to the Commissioner of Education at the New York State Education Department.  This must be done ... within thirty (30) days of this decision” (emphasis supplied).  Consequently, I find petitioners’ assertion does not constitute good cause for the delay, and the appeals must be dismissed.

The appeals also are 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).  According to the record, A.M. and J.M. graduated from Port Jefferson High School.  Consequently, both matters are moot, warranting dismissal.

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

THE APPEALS ARE DISMISSED.

END OF FILE