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Decision No. 14,276

Appeal of THOMAS MOORE from action of the Board of Education of the Westhampton Beach Union Free School District regarding distribution of a flyer.

Decision No. 14,276

(December 21, 1999)

Kevin A. Seaman, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the manner in which the Board of Education of the Westhampton Beach Union Free School District ("respondent") distributed a flyer regarding a special presentation at its October 1999 board meeting. The appeal must be dismissed.

On September 22 and 23, 1999, respondent made a flyer available to parents attending the "back to school night" at its elementary and middle schools. In the flyer, respondent advised that it would deliver a special presentation at its regular meeting on October 4, 1999, to provide a detailed analysis of a revised plan for improvements at the district's schools.

Petitioner commenced this appeal on September 24, 1999, asserting that respondent improperly disseminated the flyer to a small segment of district residents. Petitioner contends that the flyer was targeted at voters who would support a capital improvement proposition, and thus constituted an improper partisan use of public funds. Petitioner requests that I admonish respondent that such targeting is impermissible, and direct respondent to provide notice to all residents. Petitioner's request for interim relief was denied on October 21, 1999.

Respondent contends that the appeal was premature and is now moot, because a brochure about the special presentation was mailed to approximately 3,800 district residents on September 27, 1999. A press release was also forwarded to local newspapers, to give notice of the October 1999 special presentation. Respondent asserts that it has therefore already provided the relief requested by petitioner - general notification to all residents about the special presentation. Respondent further alleges that, in any event, it complied with the notice requirements for the regular board meeting, and was not required by law to give any additional notice.

I agree that this matter must be dismissed as moot. Petitioner seeks an order directing respondent to provide notice to all residents, but respondent has, indeed, provided such notice in due course. The Commissioner determines only matters in actual controversy and will not render a determination on an issue which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Goldin, 39 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,250; Appeal of June D., 38 Ed Dept Rep 596, Decision No. 14,101; Appeal of Schuler, 37 id. 512, Decision No. 13,915).