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Decision No. 14,965

Appeal of D.W., on behalf of her son J.W., from action of the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Central High School District regarding student discipline.



(October 9, 2003)


Sondra I. Harris & Associates, P.C., attorneys for petitioner, Sondra I. Harris, Esq., of counsel

 Guercio & Guercio, attorneys for respondent, David M. Brodsky, Esq., of counsel


MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the suspension of her son, J.W., by the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Central High School District ("respondent").  The appeal must be dismissed.

Following an assistant principal"s investigation of several student complaints between February and April 2002, the high school principal notified petitioner by letter dated May 14, 2002, that J.W. was suspended for five days for inappropriately touching at least four female students without their consent.  A superintendent"s hearing was held over five days between May 20 and June 6, 2002.  At the hearing, seven students testified about multiple incidents of improper touching in school hallways by an individual who was later identified as J.W.

The hearing officer found J.W. guilty of nine charges.  After reviewing the hearing officer"s findings, the superintendent suspended J.W. for the remainder of the school year, from May 13 through June 26, 2002.  By letter dated June 10, the superintendent notified petitioner of the suspension.  Petitioner appealed to respondent.  The superintendent notified petitioner by letter dated August 30, 2002 that respondent had voted on August 27, 2002 to uphold the superintendent"s finding.  This appeal ensued. 

Petitioner asserts that the charges against J.W. were not supported by clear and convincing evidence.  She also contends that the superintendent did not properly consider that in several instances, the witnesses admitted that they did not actually see who touched them, and that the witnesses" identifications were allegedly tainted by their collusion.  Petitioner seeks reversal of respondent"s determination.

Respondent asserts that the petition is untimely, moot and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.  Respondent also asserts that the decision to suspend J.W. was based on competent and substantial evidence and that the Commissioner should not substitute his judgment for that of the hearing officer on the issue of witness credibility.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  Petitioner requests that I overturn J.W."s suspension and find that he did not commit the offenses alleged.  Petitioner, however, does not request expungement of J.W."s records.  The penalty imposed was suspension for the remainder of the 2001-02 school year.  Since that school year has ended, and J.W. has served the suspension, no meaningful relief can be granted and the appeal must be dismissed as moot (Appeal of R.R. and K.R., 41 Ed Dept Rep 405, Decision No. 14,726; Appeal of D.H., 41 id. 142, Decision No. 14,640; Appeal of N.B., 40 id. 515, Decision No. 14,542).  Moreover, it appears that J.W. is no longer enrolled in respondent"s schools, since in her affidavit attached to the petition petitioner refers to J.W. as "a former student."