Skip to main content

Decision No. 14,771

Appeal of JAN SCHRADER from action of the Board of Education of the Honeoye Central School District regarding library services.

Decision No. 14,771

(August 12, 2002)

Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Ronald Mendrick and Theresa A. Conroy, Esqs., of counsel

Cate, Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals various actions of the Board of Education of the Honeoye Central School District ("respondent") with regard to library services, including its determination to employ an English teacher, who is not a certified library media specialist, to provide library services to grades K-12. The appeal must be dismissed.

From 1970 to 1997, respondent employed two full-time librarians in its K-12 building. One was assigned to the elementary library and the other to the secondary library. One of the librarians retired in 1997. In August 2000, respondent consolidated the two positions into a single K-12 library media specialist position. In February 2001, the K-12 librarian voluntarily left her position. Respondent employed a per diem substitute until April 2001, when respondent appointed a certified library media specialist. The library media specialist was terminated in May 2001 and respondent employed a substitute until the end of the school year. After an unsuccessful search for a certified librarian, respondent appointed Michele Ventress, a certified English teacher as K-12 librarian in September 2001.

Petitioner commenced this appeal on or about January 26, 2002. She relies on "91.2 of the Commissioner"s regulations, which provides in pertinent part:

Each school district shall employ a certified school library media specialist, unless equivalent service is provided by an alternative arrangement approved by the commissioner, in accordance with the following standards:

(d) In a secondary school with an enrollment of more than 500 but not more than 700 pupils, a certified school library media specialist shall devote at least five school periods each day to school library work.

Respondent acknowledges that more than 500 secondary students attend its school. Petitioner contends that respondent has failed to meet the regulatory requirements since September 2000. In particular, she argues that respondent failed to meet the regulatory requirement for the 2001-2002 school year because Ms. Ventress is not a certified library media specialist and does not spend the required time in the secondary library. Petitioner asks me to order respondent to employ a certified library media specialist for the secondary library and to require that person to devote at least five school periods each day to the library. She also asks me to require respondent to follow its long-term practice of employing separate elementary and secondary librarians and to "respect" existing board policy that recommends employment of one librarian for every 250 students.

On June 7, 2002, the State Education Department"s Office of Teaching granted respondent"s application to employ Ms. Ventress as its librarian from September 1, 2001 until August 31, 2002. By letter dated June 17, 2002, respondent"s attorney advised my Office of Counsel that it hired a certified library media specialist for its secondary library for the 2002-2003 school year.

An appeal to the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Education Law "310 must be commenced within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of unless excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR "275.16). To the extent petitioner seeks to challenge actions taken prior to the 2001-2002 school year, her appeal is untimely.

Petitioner"s appeal is also moot. 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 Tobias, 41 Ed Dept Rep ____, Decision No. 14,612; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 39 id. 45, Decision No. 14,169; Appeal of June D., 38 id. 596, Decision No. 14,101). Petitioner alleges that respondent"s employment of Ms. Ventress, and the services she provided during the 2001-2002 school year, did not meet regulatory requirements. The 2001-2002 school year has concluded. Moreover, respondent has obtained a temporary license for Ms. Ventress covering her service during the 2001-2002 school year and has employed a certified library media specialist to serve as the secondary librarian for the 2002-2003 school year, essentially providing petitioner with the relief she seeks.