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Decision No. 15,069

Appeal of a STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY, by her parent, from action of the Board of Education of the Williamson Central School District regarding student discipline.



(June 28, 2004)


Harris, Chesworth & O"Brien, attorneys for petitioner, Nathan A. Van Loon, Esq., of counsel  

Wayne A. Vander Byl, Esq., attorney for respondent

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

Petitioner"s daughter is a 14 year-old African American student with a disability who attended special classes in respondent"s district during the 2003-2004 school year.  On October 24, 2003, the student was involved in an altercation with another student in the high school.  By letter dated October 24, 2003, respondent"s principal notified petitioner that her daughter was suspended from school for five days, effective October 27, 2003, that petitioner had the right to an informal conference and that a superintendent"s hearing would be scheduled.

A superintendent"s hearing was held on October 30, 2003, at which petitioner"s daughter, the principal and a police officer (who had been called to the high school to investigate) testified.  Although the hearing officer found petitioner"s daughter guilty of the charge and recommended her suspension for the remainder of the school year, he recommended that her behavior, attitude and academic progress be evaluated at the end of the second quarter to consider readmission during the third quarter.  The district"s Committee on Special Education held a manifestation hearing and determined that the student"s conduct was not a manifestation of her disability.

The superintendent adopted the hearing officer"s decision on October 31, 2003.  Respondent denied petitioner"s appeal of the superintendent"s decision on November 6, 2003.  This appeal ensued.  I denied petitioner"s request for interim relief on December 29, 2003.  Respondent ended the suspension and readmitted petitioner"s daughter to school on January 26, 2004.

Petitioner contends that her daughter was subject to disparate treatment because of race and that she received inadequate instruction during the suspension.  Petitioner requests that the suspension be vacated and her daughter returned to classes.  Respondent denies petitioner"s charges.

The appeal is dismissed as moot.  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 D.W., 43 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,965; Appeal of L.B., 43 id. ___, Decision No. 14,952; Appeal of N.S., 42 id. 190, Decision No. 14,817).  Since petitioner"s daughter has already served her suspension and returned to school, petitioner"s request for relief is moot (Appeal of D.W., supra; Appeal of L.B., supra; Appeal of N.S., supra).

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