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Decision No. 12,575

Appeal of HENRY ROMATOWSKI and ROBERT HEBEL from action of the Board of Education of the New Paltz Central School District relating to a vote on a bond issue proposition.

Decision No. 12,575

(August 29, 1991)

Shaw and Silveira, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Garrett L. Silveira, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners challenge respondent's actions relating to a vote on a proposition to finance and construct elementary school facilities. Petitioners request that I issue an order vacating and setting aside the results of a special district meeting held on September 13, 1989, or that I grant other relief. Petitioners previously requested that I issue a stay to prevent construction of the buildings authorized by vote of the district voters. The stay request was denied by decision of September 26, 1990. The appeal must also be dismissed.

Petitioners are residents of the New Paltz Central School District. On or about September 13, 1989, the Board of Education of the New Paltz Central School District conducted a special district meeting at which a proposition was put before school district residents authorizing the purchase of land, the construction of a new elementary school on that land, and the reconstruction and alteration of an existing elementary school. The aggregate maximum cost of these items was $13,447,000. Those present at the special district meeting approved this proposition by a vote of 995 in favor and 822 opposed. At the same district meeting, five other propositions were defeated by the voters.

This proceeding was commenced by service of a notice of petition and petition on or about September 4, 1990. The petition contains what purports to be fifteen causes of action, ranging from allegations relating to the form of the proposition approved by the voters in September 1989, to contentions relating to a proposal supported by petitioners to construct an addition to the high school as an alternative to the approved project for construction of a new elementary school. Respondent's answer contests petitioners' legal arguments, and also asserts that the appeal is untimely, since it was commenced in September 1990 and seeks to upset the results of a vote conducted in September 1989.

As to the issue of timeliness, petitioners contend that their delay in commencing the appeal should be excused because voters were not told how much the building project would cost, were deprived of information relating to the need for construction, were somehow denied their "freedom of choice" by the "form" of the proposition, and were further disadvantaged as set forth in the remaining allegations in the first twelve causes of action. Since there is nothing in the record which would tend to show that respondent deliberately misinformed the voters about the proposed project, I must deny petitioners' request to excuse the delay in bringing this appeal. The vote which is the subject of this appeal occurred in September 1989 and, in accordance with the provisions of 8 NYCRR 275.16, petitioners were required to initiate an appeal challenging the results of that vote within 30 days of that date. Having failed to do so and having failed to demonstrate sufficient reason why the delay should be excused, the appeal must be dismissed (Appeal of Davidson, 29 Ed Dept Rep 24). Because the appeal is dismissed as untimely, I decline to consider or discuss petitioners' remaining contentions.