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Decision No. 13,229

Appeal of CONCETTA M. FERRARA from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Mount Vernon and Joseph V. Scelsa regarding eligibility for office.

Decision No. 13,229

(July 22, 1994)

D'Andrea and Goldstein, Esqs., attorneys for respondent board, Robert Goldstein, Esq., of counsel

Culleton, Marinaccio & Foglia, Esqs., attorneys for respondent Scelsa, Philip F. Foglia, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner, a resident of the Mount Vernon City School District, challenges the decision of the Mount Vernon Board of Education ("respondent board") that Joseph V. Scelsa ("respondent Scelsa") is a valid candidate for the position of member of respondent board of education. The appeal must be dismissed.

Respondent Scelsa was a candidate for election to respondent board. By letters dated April 13 and 17, 1994, petitioner wrote respondent board, challenging Mr. Scelsa's candidacy. The basis of her challenge was that Mr. Scelsa was ineligible for office because he did not meet the residency requirement of Education Law '2502(7). That section provides in pertinent part:

No person shall be eligible to the office of member of the board of education who is not a qualified voter of the city school district and who has not been a resident of such district for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the date of his election; ...

An investigation by respondent board indicated that Mr. Scelsa has maintained a residence within the Mount Vernon district since the mid 1970's. Mr. Scelsa registered to vote as a resident of New York City in 1967. In 1988, he registered in Westchester County and re-registered on March 14, 1994. Voting records indicate that Mr. Scelsa never voted in Westchester County, but has voted in New York City numerous times between 1967 and 1993, including the New York City mayoral election in November 1993.

Respondent board concluded that while Mr. Scelsa may have improperly voted in New York City, the record indicated that he was a resident of the Mount Vernon School District and, therefore, eligible to run for a position on the board of education. Respondent board noted that the issue of whether Mr. Scelsa had voted improperly in New York City must be reviewed by the New York State Board of Elections. Based on its review, respondent board notified petitioner on April 22, 1994 that Mr. Scelsa's name would remain on the ballot for the school district election to be held on May 3, 1994. This appeal ensued.

The Commissioner of Education will decide only cases where an actual controversy exists and will not render a decision concerning a dispute which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Evans, 33 Ed Dept Rep 572; Appeal of Chrisfield, 33 id. 463; Appeal of Hartmann, 32 id. 640). The record before me indicates that respondent board held its annual election on May 2, 1994, and Mr. Scelsa was not elected to office. Petitioner's request that Mr. Scelsa's name not appear on the ballot is now moot. Accordingly, this appeal must be dismissed.