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Decision No. 14,902

Appeal of JOANNE GIUFFRIDA from action of Shirley Thompson, Robert E. Brown, Bolgen Vargas and Dwight Cook, as members of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Rochester, regarding a change in the term of office of the president of the Board.



(July 21, 2003)


Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP, attorneys for respondents, A. Paul Britton, Esq., of counsel


MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner, former president of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Rochester ("the board"), appeals the vote by board members Shirley Thompson, Robert E. Brown, Bolgen Vargas and Dwight Cook ("respondents"), to amend the board"s bylaws to provide for a one-year term of office for the president of the board.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner was elected to the board for a four-year term beginning January 1, 2000.  On January 2, 2002, she was elected board president.  At that time, the board"s bylaws set the president"s term of office at two years.  On December 5, 2002, approximately 11 months into petitioner"s two-year term as president, a special meeting of the board was convened.  The four respondents were the only members present at that meeting.  By a 4-0 vote, respondents adopted several amendments to the bylaws, including an amendment requiring the board to hold an organizational meeting on the first business day in January each year (rather than every other year) and establishing a one-year term of office for the president (rather than a two-year term).  The record indicates that this special meeting was properly called, noticed and conducted, and petitioner does not challenge the procedures by which the bylaws were amended.  The amendments took effect immediately and required the election of a president to serve a new one-year term at an organizational meeting of the board to be held on the first business day in January 2003.

Petitioner commenced this appeal on December 10, 2002.  She claims that the amendments effectively remove her from office before the expiration of her term, without due process, and in violation of the concept of a fixed term.  She further claims that the board exceeded its authority in amending the bylaws.  Accordingly, petitioner requests that I stay the effective date of the amendments until she completes her term of office in January 2004.  She further requests that I invalidate the January 2003 election of a new president.  Petitioner"s request for interim relief was denied on December 31, 2002.

Respondents assert that they complied with their own rules when they amended the bylaws, and that those bylaws, as amended, fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations.  Respondents assert that they made the changes, interalia, to improve the board"s efficiency and effectiveness.  Finally, respondents assert that the appeal was premature when commenced because the change in bylaws did not necessarily remove petitioner from office, and that she was eligible, like all other board members, to run for president at the January 2003 organizational meeting. 

The Commissioner will only decide 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 K.M., 41 Ed Dept Rep 318, Decision No. 14,699; Appeal of N.B., 40 id. 515, Decision No. 14,542; Appeal of N.C., 40 id. 445, Decision No. 14,522).  Petitioner has advised my Office of Counsel that she resigned from the board effective June 9, 2003.  The relief petitioner seeks applies only to her position as board president.  Because she cannot hold that office if she is not a board member, her resignation from the board renders this appeal moot (Appeal of K.M., supra; Appeal of D.C., 41 Ed Dept Rep 277, Decision No. 14,684).

In light of the foregoing disposition, I need not address the parties" remaining contentions.