Decision No. 17,938
Appeals of TERRY RODRIGUEZ from action of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District regarding the lease of real property.
Decision No. 17,938
(November 16, 2020)
Harris Beach PLLC, attorneys for respondent, Douglas E. Gerhardt, Esq., of counsel
ROSA., Interim Commissioner.--In five separate appeals, petitioner challenges the determination of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District to enter into agreements leasing five of its schools to summer day camp programs. The appeals must be dismissed.
Given the disposition of this appeal, a detailed recitation of the facts is unnecessary. According to the record, at a June 23, 2020 board meeting, respondent approved the short-term leasing of space within four of its elementary schools to four corporations (the “corporations”) to operate summer day camp programs therein. Respondent also voted to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Ramapo (the “town”) to allow the town to utilize space within one of respondent’s high schools to operate a summer camp program. On June 29, 2020, respondent entered into lease agreements with the corporations; however, the intermunicipal agreement was never executed. This appeal ensued. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on July 10, 2020.
Petitioner contends that respondent’s determination to enter into agreements with the corporations and the town was “arbitrary and capricious.” Petitioner further avers that the agreements were “entered into without considering possible significant danger to the district[’s] staff, its students and taxpayers.” Additionally, petitioner argues that respondent did not provide sufficient time for public discussion of the agreements. Petitioner further asserts that several board members have financial relationships with the corporations or the town and, thus, should have recused themselves from voting on the agreements. Petitioner requests that I “reverse” respondent’s determination to lease property to the corporations and the town.
Respondent contends that the appeals should be dismissed, inter alia, because petitioner is not aggrieved and thus lacks standing. Respondent further argues that the appeals should be dismissed as moot because its agreements with the corporations expired as of August 19, 2020. On the merits, respondent denies petitioner’s allegations of impropriety and maintains that its determination was “fully and completely legal.”
The appeals must be dismissed for failure to join necessary parties. A party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of a petitioner is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of Murray, 48 id. 517, Decision No. 15,934). Joinder requires that an individual be clearly named as a respondent in the caption and served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition to inform the individual that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense (Appeal of Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of Murray, 48 id. 517, Decision No. 15,934).
The sole relief sought by petitioner in these appeals is that I “reverse” respondent’s determination to lease property to the corporations and the town. Because any such reversal would adversely affect the corporations and the town, they are necessary parties to these appeals; however, petitioner did not properly join the corporations and the town as respondents (Appeal of Loschiavo, 45 Ed Dept Rep 525, Decision No. 15,404).
Although the record reflects that the corporations and the town were each served with a copy of the applicable petition and notice of petition, petitioner failed to name any of the corporations or the town as respondents in the captions thereof or otherwise identify them as respondents in the petitions. Accordingly, petitioner did not properly join the corporations and the town as respondents, and the appeals must be dismissed for failure to join necessary parties (Appeal of Stieffenhofer, 48 Ed Dept Rep 231, Decision No. 15,846; see also Application of Sabuda and Chudzik, 31 id. 461, Decision No. 12,700).
The appeals must also be dismissed as moot to the extent petitioner challenges the agreements between respondent and the corporations. 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). By their terms, the lease agreements between respondent and the corporations expired on August 19, 2020. Accordingly, these agreements are no longer in effect, and there is no meaningful relief petitioner could receive with respect thereto. Consequently, the appeals challenging these agreements are moot and must be dismissed (Appeal of Aramark Educational Services, LLC, 50 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 16,100; Appeal of Whitsons School Nutrition Corporation, 49 id. 129, Decision No. 15,977).
Petitioner’s appeal challenging the purported intermunicipal agreement between respondent and the town must also be dismissed on the ground that petitioner is not aggrieved. An individual may not maintain an appeal pursuant to Education Law §310 unless aggrieved in the sense that he or she has suffered personal damage or injury to his or her civil, personal or property rights (Appeal of Abitbol, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,333; Appeal of Waechter, 48 id. 261, Decision No. 15,853). Only persons who are directly affected by the action being appealed have standing to bring an appeal (Appeal of Abitbol, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,333; Appeal of Waechter, 48 id. 261, Decision No. 15,853).
Respondent asserts, and petitioner does not contest, that it never executed the intermunicipal agreement with the town, despite its vote to authorize such agreement. The record also contains an affirmation from an assistant town attorney for the town who indicates that “[t]he [t]own ... did not enter into any intermunicipal agreement or lease agreement with [respondent] to lease any school grounds, buildings or properties of summer camps or any other programs during the summer months of ... 2020.” Because the intermunicipal agreement was never executed, petitioner has not suffered any injury as a result thereof and is not aggrieved thereby (see Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 33 Ed Dept Rep 31, Decision No. 12,964 [petitioner not aggrieved where act complained of did not occur]). Accordingly, petitioner’s appeal challenging the intermunicipal agreement must be dismissed.
In light of this disposition, I need not consider the parties’ remaining contentions.
THE APPEALS ARE DISMISSED.
END OF FILE
 Petitioner commenced a separate appeal for each of the agreements discussed herein. I have consolidated these appeals for purposes of decision (8 NYCRR §275.18).
 Indeed, I note that, although the corporations submitted a joint answer in this matter, the town merely submitted an affirmation – not an answer – in which the town took “no position with respect to the relief sought,” indicating that the town did not consider itself to be a respondent.