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Decision No. 13,700

Appeal of E.S., on behalf of E.M., from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Amsterdam regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 13,700

(November 13, 1996)

Salmon, Salmon and Goodman, LLP, attorneys for petitioner, Del Salmon, Esq., of counsel

William H. Mycek, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the suspension imposed on her son by the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Amsterdam ("respondent"). The appeal must be dismissed.

On March 4, 1996, E.M. and others were found in possession of marijuana on the grounds of the Amsterdam Middle School. The police officers who came to the scene detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from an automobile in which the student and others were present. On March 25, 1996, a superintendent's hearing was held on a charge against E. M.:

Charge I - refusal to obey school rules, disorderly or other conduct which endangers the safety, moral, health or welfare of others.

On March 27, 1996, the hearing officer's written report concluded that E. M. was guilty of the charge presented and recommended his suspension for the remainder of the 1995-96 school year. Respondent's superintendent adopted the hearing officer's findings and recommendations and authorized E. M.'s suspension for the remainder of the school year. In a letter dated April 23, 1996, petitioner was notified that, at a meeting on April 18, 1996, respondent board voted to uphold the superintendent's decision to suspend her son. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner alleges that there was no direct testimony or evidence that her son possessed marijuana or alcohol on school property. She also alleges that the penalty respondent imposed upon her son was inequitable because he received the same suspension from school as the other students involved in the incident who were charged with the sale of drugs. Petitioner also alleges that respondent's decision to suspend her son was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable. Respondent contends that its decision to suspend E.M. was based on competent and substantial evidence, that respondent was not arbitrary and capricious, and that the appeal is untimely.

The record indicates that the student's suspension was for the remainder of the 1995-96 school year, which has now concluded. Petitioner does not request the expungement of her son's records. The Commissioner of Education will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision concerning a dispute which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Brown, 34 Ed Dept Rep 33; Appeal of Chrisfield, 33 id. 463; Appeal of Hartmann, 32 id. 640). Since the suspension has already been served, and was substantially served by the time this appeal was perfected, the appeal is moot and must be dismissed on that basis.

In light of the foregoing disposition, I will not address the remainder of petitioner's claims.