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Decision No. 14,511

Appeal of SAMUEL BURNETT from action of the Board of Education of the Wyandanch Union Free School District, Henry Bacon, Rodney Bordeaux, Denise Collins, LaFlorence Grant, Derrick Hardy, Phyllis Henry and Edna Newton regarding board meetings.

Decision No. 14,511

(December 21, 2000)

Van Nostrand & Martin, attorneys for respondent, David S. Desmond, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the actions of the Board of Education of the Wyandanch Union Free School District ("respondent") relating to the conduct of two board meetings allegedly held in violation of the Open Meetings Law. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner alleges that on August 1 and August 9, 2000, respondent conducted "improper, unannounced and illegal secret meetings" without proper notice to the public. Petitioner seeks an order rescinding all proceedings and resolutions adopted at such meetings.

Respondent contends that its meeting on August 1 was a special meeting of the board, conducted in full compliance with the notice requirements of the Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law, Article 7). Respondent asserts that on August 9, 2000 the board conducted interviews for candidates to the position of superintendent of schools, but that no board meeting was held requiring notice to the public pursuant to the Open Meetings Law.

Respondent raises a number of procedural defenses to the petition. Initially, respondent maintains that I lack jurisdiction over alleged violations of the Open Meetings Law. Respondent also claims that the petition is defective in format, lacks proper notice and fails to state a clear and concise statement of petitioner's claim showing that petitioner is entitled to the relief sought.

The appeal must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Public Officers Law "107 vests exclusive jurisdiction over complaints alleging violations of the Open Meetings Law in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and alleged violations thereof may not be adjudicated in an appeal to the Commissioner (Application of Lilker, 40 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,486; Appeal of Mitchell, et al., 40 id. ___, Decision No. 14,428; Appeal of Instone-Noonan, 39 id. 413, Decision No. 14,275). Inasmuch as petitioner's appeal consists solely of allegations that respondent failed to effect proper notice of board meetings required by the Open Meetings Law, dismissal for lack of jurisdiction is warranted. In view of the jurisdictional disposition of the appeal, I need not address respondent's other assertions.