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Decision No. 13,626

Appeal of EAST RAMAPO CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT from action of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for the Sole Supervisory District of Rockland County regarding an election issue.

Decision No. 13,626

(June 14, 1996)

Greenberg, Wanderman & Fromson, attorneys for petitioner, Stephen M. Fromson, Esq., of counsel

O'Connell & Riley, attorneys for respondent, James K. Riley, Esq., of counsel

Jay Worona, Esq., attorney for New York State School Boards Association, amicus curiae

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner, a component school district of respondent Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), seeks to have its nomination for a seat on the board accepted. The New York State School Boards Association submits an amicus curiae brief on behalf of petitioner. The appeal must be dismissed.

The facts are undisputed. Respondent has a nine-member board and nine component districts. The Edwin Gould Academy, a special act school district, is not represented on the board. Five districts (including petitioner) have residents who hold seats which are not expiring this year; two districts (Nyack and North Rockland) hold seats which are expiring; and one district (Ramapo) holds one seat which is expiring and one that is not.

At the time the appeal was filed, the Edwin Gould Academy, the only unrepresented district, decided not to make a nomination for a seat on the board. Nyack, North Rockland, and Ramapo each nominated their board members whose terms were expiring for reelection. The five districts whose members hold seats that are not expiring each nominated Georgine Hyde. Respondent rejected Hyde's nominations pursuant to '1950 2-a(b), which states in pertinent part:

No nomination of a person to be elected to a board of cooperative educational services from a component district which currently has a resident serving on such board shall be accepted unless such member's office is to expire at the end of the current year or unless the size of such board exceeds the number of component school districts.

Respondent notified the component districts that nominations from only Ramapo, North Rockland, Nyack, or the Edwin Gould Academy would be accepted.

Petitioner seeks to have its nomination accepted. It contends that the intent of recent BOCES reform legislation (Chapter 295, Laws of 1993, and Chapter 602, Laws of 1994), which restructured the process by which BOCES board members are elected, was to ensure broader representation of component school districts on the board. It argues that where, as here, a district declines to make a nomination, all of the other component districts should have an equal opportunity to nominate a candidate for a second seat on the board. It maintains that respondent's strict interpretation of '1950 2-a(b) in this situation undermines that intent by giving an advantage to the three districts whose members' terms are expiring this year, allowing those districts the possibility of holding two seats while limiting the other five districts to one.

Respondent contends that the appeal is moot and that petitioner fails to state a cause of action. It maintains that the express provisions of the law should be applied and that to do otherwise would dismantle the Education Law.

The appeal must be dismissed because it is moot. On March 14, 1996, the Edwin Gould Academy nominated Hyde for a seat on the board. Respondent also determined that Ramapo's nominee could not be reelected pursuant to '1950 2-a(c) because Ramapo had a representative on the board. The election was held on April 25, 1996. Hyde ran unopposed and was elected to the board. 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).