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Decision No. 14,523

Appeal of ROGER and MILDRED BOOKER, on behalf of ELISABETH BOOKER, from action of the Board of Education of the Baldwinsville Central School District regarding discrimination.

Decision No. 14,523

(December 21, 2000)

O’Hara and O’Connell, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Dennis G. O’Hara, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal, on behalf of their daughter, from alleged discrimination by the Board of Education of the Baldwinsville Central School District ("respondent"). The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners’ daughter, Elisabeth, attended school in respondent’s district during the 1998-99 school year. On May 6, 1999, Elisabeth was apparently assaulted during an altercation with another student in the school cafeteria. Petitioner complained to respondent about the manner in which respondent’s principal handled the incident. Subsequent to that incident, petitioners also complained to respondent about various alleged racially based incidents of harassment in respondent’s schools. Petitioners also claim that on one occasion their daughter was disciplined differently, based upon her race, by her mathematics teacher. Petitioners contend in this appeal that respondent failed to appropriately respond to their complaints and, therefore, have engaged in unlawful racial discrimination against their daughter.

Respondent raises a number of procedural objections to the appeal. Respondent contends that the appeal is untimely, the petition lacks the required notice, does not contain a clear, concise statement of petitioners’ claim showing their entitlement to relief, and is jurisdictionally defective. Respondent also asserts that petitioners have failed to establish that any discrimination against their daughter has occurred.

Subsequent to the filing of this appeal, respondent filed a supplemental affidavit pursuant to 8 NYCRR 276.5 which has been accepted for consideration herein. The affidavit indicates that on or about August 24, 2000, petitioners withdrew their daughter from respondent’s school district. The Commissioner of Education only decides matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exists or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Pennett, 40 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,466; Appeal of Debbie L., 39 id. 505, Decision No. 14,294; Appeal of Kainz, 38 id. 339, Decision No. 14,049; Appeal of Studley, 38 id. 258, Decision No. 14,028). Because petitioners’ daughter no longer attends school in respondent’s district, the appeal must be dismissed as moot.

The petition must also be dismissed for lack of proper verification. Section 275.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education requires that all pleadings in an appeal before the Commissioner be verified. The petition must be verified by the oath of at least one of the petitioners. Here, neither petitioner verified the petition. Instead, the verification is signed by Demetria Booker, an individual who is not a party to the appeal. Where a petition is not properly verified, it must be dismissed (Appeal of Phillips, 40 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,471; Appeal of Spensieri, 40 id. ___; Decision No. 14,419; Appeal of Davis, 39 id. 181, Decision No. 14,207).

In view of the fact that the appeal is moot and also dismissed on procedural grounds, I will not address the parties’ other contentions.