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Decision No. 13,504

Appeal of DICK J. DeMAN from action of the Board of Education of the Yorktown Central School District regarding a voter proposition.

Decision No. 13,504

(November 6, 1995)

David O. Wright, Esq., attorney for petitioner

Plunkett & Jaffe, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Phyllis S. Jaffe, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner seeks an order directing the Board of Education of the Yorktown Central School District ("respondent") to submit a proposition to the voters at the district's annual meeting in May 1995. The appeal must be dismissed.

On February 24, 1995, petitioner submitted a petition to respondent requesting the placement of the following proposition before the voters at the district's annual meeting:

Shall a position of elected treasurer be adopted for the Yorktown Central School District, the selection of which for this fiscal year is to be filled by special election?

On March 14, 1995, respondent rejected the proposition. This appeal followed. On March 20, 1995 Commissioner Sobol denied petitioner's request for an interim order placing the proposition on the May 1995 ballot.

Petitioner asserts that respondent's refusal to place his proposition on the ballot violated Education Law '2021. Respondent contends that it refused to place petitioner's proposition on the ballot because the question presented by the proposition was not a matter within the voters' authority.

As a threshold matter, this appeal must be dismissed on procedural grounds. An individual whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of the petitioner must be joined as a necessary party (Appeal of Myers, 34 Ed Dept Rep 238; Appeal of Bonanno, 33 id. 610; Appeal of Chaney, 33 id. 12). On July 12, 1994 respondent appointed Dorothy Sorrentino district treasurer. Because the proposition required an election to fill the district treasurer position for the 1995 fiscal year, Ms. Sorrentino's appointment would be affected if petitioner succeeds in placing his proposition on the ballot. Therefore, Ms. Sorrentino is a necessary party to the appeal and it must be dismissed for failure to join her.

The appeal must also be dismissed as moot. The record reflects that the election occurred in May 1995. Accordingly, the relief petitioner requests -- that I order respondent to place this proposition on the ballot at the May 1995 election -- cannot be granted. Since the Commissioner only decides matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exists or which subsequent events have laid to rest, the appeal is dismissed (Appeal of Evans, 33 Ed Dept Rep 572; Appeal of Chrisfeld, 33 id. 463).

The appeal must also be dismissed on the merits because the voters have no authority to elect a district treasurer. Pursuant to Education Law '1716, it is a board of education's duty to present the voters with an annual budget. A board of education need not present all propositions submitted to it (Appeal of Martin, 32 Ed Dept Rep 567). Rather, it may reject a petition to place a proposition before the voters when the proposition is not a matter within voters' discretion (Education Law '2035).

In this case, petitioner proferred a proposition that would have authorized voters to fill the office of district treasurer by election. Education Law '2130(4) provides in pertinent part: "The board of education ... shall appoint a district treasurer...." Education Law '1804 makes this election provision applicable to central school districts. It provides that the board of education of each central school district "shall have the same powers and duties as boards of education in union free school districts" and that all the provisions of any law relating to union free school districts shall similarly apply to central school districts. Because respondent is a central school district, the Education Law requires its appointment of a district treasurer. Accordingly, respondent properly rejected petitioner's proposition as a matter outside the control of district voters.

Petitioner's reliance upon Education Law '2021(4) as authorizing the voters to elect a treasurer is misplaced. Education Law '2021, as applied to central school districts, is superseded by the more specific language of '1804(1), vesting in central boards all the powers of union free boards -- including the power to appoint a treasurer.

I have considered petitioner's remaining claims and find them without merit.