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Decision No. 14,833

Appeal of M.N., on behalf of her son K.N., from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Middletown regarding student discipline.



(January 27, 2003)


Donoghue, Thomas, Auslander & Drohan, attorneys for respondent, Felice A. Bowen, Esq., of counsel


MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the suspension of her son by the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Middletown ("respondent").  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner"s son, K.N., was suspended for five days after he was found to be in possession of marijuana on school property on February 27, 2002.  At a superintendent"s hearing on March 6, 2002, he admitted the possession charge.  On March 26, 2002, the superintendent suspended K.N. until the end of the second marking period of the 2002-03 school year, and placed him on home instruction.  Petitioner requested a reconsideration of this decision by letter dated May 15, 2002.  On June 4, 2002, the superintendent agreed to consider shortening the  suspension, and allow K.N. to return to school at the end of the first marking period of the 2002-03 school year, upon documentation that he was rehabilitated and drug free. Petitioner commenced this appeal on August 20, 2002, seeking an order allowing K.N. to return to school in September 2002.  As part of the appeal, petitioner submitted the results of a drug test completed July 30, 2002, purportedly showing K.N. was drug-free.  Respondent readmitted K.N. to school on January 9, 2003.

Petitioner contends that the penalty imposed is excessive because the incident was K.N."s first drug offense and suspension until September 2002 would  sufficiently impress upon him the seriousness of his conduct and need for improvement.  Petitioner contends that K.N. is struggling academically and requires more than the two hours of tutoring a day provided as alternative instruction.

Respondent contends that the appeal should be dismissed as untimely and for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.  Respondent further contends that the penalty is appropriate based on the student"s admission of guilt and his disciplinary record.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  Petitioner does not contest respondent"s determination of guilt, but rather the penalty imposed, and seeks K.N."s readmission to school.  The Commissioner of Education will only consider 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 Nocerino, 40 Ed Dept Rep 244, Decision No. 14,472; Appeal of J.Y. and E.Y., 40 id. 9, Decision No. 14,403).  As the suspension has already been served and the student readmitted to school, no meaningful relief can be granted and the appeal must be dismissed as moot.

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties" other contentions.