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Decision No. 17,739

Appeal of J.Q., on behalf of her child I.Q., from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Glens Falls regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 17,739

(August 22, 2019)

Gregory V. Canale, Esq., attorney for petitioner

Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart & Rhodes, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Karla Williams Buettner, Esq., of counsel

ELIA., Commissioner--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Glens Falls (“respondent”) to impose discipline upon her child (“the student”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the student was enrolled in respondent’s middle school.  According to the record, on March 21, 2018, the student was found on school property carrying an air gun.  He was escorted into the administration building, and petitioner was contacted to bring the student home.  When petitioner arrived at the school, respondent’s superintendent informed her that the student’s conduct violated respondent’s policy and code of conduct, and that the student was being suspended pending a superintendent’s hearing.  The superintendent advised petitioner that respondent’s policy called for up to a one-year suspension.

By letter dated March 29, 2018,[1] the principal informed petitioner that the student was assigned to out-of-school suspension for five days, beginning March 22, 2018.  The letter advised petitioner that:

[the student] and a friend were on school grounds after school with an air gun.  Both reported they were waiting for a friend and were going to ‘prank’ him by shooting the gun several feet away from him.  They were seen by an adult and escorted to the administration building.

The letter advised petitioner that a long-term suspension hearing would be scheduled.

By letter dated March 23, 2018, the superintendent informed petitioner that a hearing was scheduled for March 28, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.  The letter stated that the student was charged with “Possession of a Weapon on School Property.”  The letter indicated that petitioner had “the right to be represented by an attorney and to present witnesses and present evidence on [the student’s] behalf.”

At the hearing, the hearing officer explained the student’s rights, including the right to counsel.  The hearing officer indicated that the student was charged with possession of a weapon on school property.  When asked how the student pleaded, petitioner responded, “Yes, well guilty of course.”  The student added, “we were going to ... prank my friend ... when he came out we were going to follow him ... and then ... shoot near him, but not at him.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer determined that the student was guilty of the charged conduct and recommended a one-year suspension.  By letter dated April 2, 2018, the superintendent informed petitioner that he was imposing a one-year suspension, which would run through March 21, 2019.  Petitioner appealed the superintendent’s decision to respondent, which denied the appeal and affirmed the one-year suspension by letter dated June 21, 2018.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on August 29, 2018.

Petitioner argues that respondent’s determination is not supported by substantial evidence because there was no proof that the air gun was a “weapon.”  She also argues that respondent’s procedures infringed upon the student’s due process rights and right to counsel.  Finally, petitioner argues that the definition of “weapon” as used by respondent is unconstitutionally vague.

Respondent asserts that petitioner has failed to meet her burden to prove that its determination was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or unlawful.  Respondent also argues that the petition is untimely, petitioner waived the right to appeal because the student pleaded guilty, and respondent did not violate petitioner or the student’s constitutional or statutory rights.

The appeal must 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 Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937).  The only relief requested by petitioner, in addition to interim relief, is reversal of the student’s suspension.  As noted, petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied.  The record reflects that the student has served the long-term suspension, and petitioner did not request expungement of his record.  Therefore, no further meaningful relief can be granted, and the appeal must be dismissed as moot (Appeal of S.K., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,339; Appeal of L.B., 56 id., Decision No. 16,998; Appeal of S.V., 55 id., Decision No. 16,829).

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

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE

 

[1] Respondent asserts that the date on the letter was incorrect and that the letter was actually sent on March 22, 2018.