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Decision No. 13,609

Appeal of GAIL KITT, on behalf of TAMARA KITT, from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York regarding student suspension.

Decision No. 13,609

(May 17, 1996)

DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services Plan, attorneys for petitioner, Gerald Mann, Esq., of counsel

Paul A. Crotty, Corporation Counsel, attorney for respondent, Robert Connors, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York ("respondent") to suspend her daughter, Tamara, and reassign her to a different school. The appeal must be dismissed.

On November 15, 1993, Tamara was suspended from respondent's East Manhattan Outreach Center for possession of a dangerous weapon. A hearing was held on the charges underlying this suspension on December 9, 1993. By a decision dated February 18, 1994, respondent's superintendent of alternative high schools transferred Tamara to the Bronx Outreach Center, with a directive that the record of her suspension be expunged upon graduation or departure from the New York City public schools, provided there were no additional incidents resulting in further suspensions. The superintendent's decision was upheld on appeal by both the Chancellor of the New York City schools and respondent. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that the suspension must be overturned because the weapon -- a box cutter -- was seized illegally and therefore should not have been introduced into evidence against Tamara. Petitioner also alleges that respondents did not comply with the Chancellor's regulations, thereby violating Tamara's due process rights and requiring that the suspension be overturned. Specific alleged violations include failure to give notice of the decision within two days of the suspension hearing; failure of the superintendent to make a full report of his findings within five days of his hearing; failure of school officials to question Tamara with respect to the misconduct, provide her with an explanation of the evidence, give her an opportunity to present her version of the event, or provide her with an opportunity to prepare a signed written statement; and failure to produce the alleged weapon at the hearing. Petitioner does not request Tamara's return to the East Manhattan Outreach Center, but seeks to have the record of her suspension expunged.

Respondent maintains that the weapon was properly seized and that Tamara's suspension should be sustained. While respondent acknowledges that it was not in full compliance with the Chancellor's regulations and missed procedural deadlines, it contends that these violations are de minimis and did not prejudice petitioner.

The appeal must be dismissed because it is moot. In June 1995, Tamara graduated from the Manhattan Borough Academy High School, and the records relating to her suspension have been expunged from her student file. Since the Commissioner only decides 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, the appeal is moot (Appeal of Nash, 35 Ed Dept Rep 203; Appeal of Warner, 32 id. 533; Appeal of Langenmayr, 30 id. 322).