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Decision No. 14,416

Appeal of A STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY, by his parent, from action of the Board of Education of the Moravia Central School District regarding student suspension.

Decision No. 14,416

(August 4, 2000)

James R. Hickey, Jr., Esq., attorney for petitioner

Matthew R. Fletcher, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the suspension of her son for the remainder of the first term of the 1999-2000 school year. The appeal must be dismissed.

In October 1999, petitioner’s son was an eighth grade student at the Moravia Central School District Middle School. On October 21, three eighth grade students reported to a school administrator that petitioner’s son had a razor blade in his possession at a morning assembly program. It appears that petitioner’s son displayed the razor blade in a handle, and that he held the razor blade near his chin when addressing these students. Petitioner’s son was questioned by school administrators, but when asked to empty his backpack, only a yellow handle was found. Petitioner’s son was warned not to bring any object that could be viewed as a weapon to school.

The following day, several students reported that petitioner’s son possessed a razor blade on the school bus. Petitioner’s son was again questioned by administrators, who found a razor blade concealed inside his hat. Upon this discovery, petitioner’s son was suspended from school, and the matter was referred to the superintendent for further action. Petitioner’s son was charged with conduct that endangered the health, safety, and welfare of other pupils and school personnel.

A hearing was held pursuant to Education Law "3214 on November 4, 1999, and that same day the hearing officer, an attorney, found petitioner’s son guilty of possessing a razor blade on both days in question, and found that he held the razor blade in a threatening manner on October 21 while talking to two students. On November 8, the superintendent determined that petitioner’s son should be suspended from school for 46 days, commencing November 15, and concluding on January 28, 2000, the end of the first semester. At its meeting of November 17, respondent affirmed the superintendent’s determination to suspend petitioner’s son through January 28, 2000. Subsequently, a nexus hearing was conducted, resulting in a determination of no nexus between the student’s disability and the behavior charged. I denied petitioner’s request for interim relief on December 21, 1999.

Petitioner admits that her son acted "inappropriately" and brought a razor blade to school. However, petitioner argues that her son had no intention of using it, and made no threat to use it. She does not contest that portion of the hearing result that found her son guilty of possessing a dangerous object in school, but asks that the length of his suspension be reduced, or that it be allowed to run from October 22, 1999, when her son was first suspended.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot. The relief sought by the petition deals only with the reduction of the length of the suspension or the starting date from which the suspension should be calculated. Because the suspension has already been served, there is no meaningful relief which can be granted at this time. It is well settled that the Commissioner of Education will not render a decision on a state of facts that no longer exists or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Clouston, 39 Ed Dept Rep ____, Decision No. 14,343; Appeal of Morenus, 39 id. 33, Decision No. 14,165; Appeal of McConnon, 37 id. 691, Decision No. 13,959).

Even if I were to consider the length of the penalty imposed here, I would not set it aside since I view the penalty to be both appropriate and well within respondent’s discretion (Appeal of Sandra L., 37 Ed Dept Rep 197, Decision No. 13,841; Appeal of Alexander, 36 id. 160, Decision No. 13,689; Appeal of Judy F., 34 id. 81, Decision No. 13,240; Appeal of John T., 30 id. 1, Decision No. 12,370).