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Decision No. 15,141

Appeal of R.S. and R.S., on behalf of their daughter M.S., from action of the Board of Education of the Minisink Valley Central School District regarding student discipline.



(November 24, 2004)


Alan L. Joseph, Esq., attorney for petitioners


Shaw & Perelson, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Margo L. May, Esq., of counsel


Petitioners challenge the suspension of their daughter, M.S., by the Board of Education of the Minisink Valley Central School District (�respondent�).  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the evening of September 30, 2003, M.S., a ninth grade student at respondent�s high school, used her home computer to electronically send threatening messages to several other district students.  Using alternate screen names to hide her identity, the messages included the statements �I will not be shot you will.  Watch your back after 5th period [expletive]� and �A rampage is gonna happen at the big MV and deaths will occur.�  Parents of students who received the messages contacted the police and respondent�s superintendent.  On October 1, 2003, police were present at respondent�s high school to monitor the situation.  According to respondent, as many as 400 to 500 students, or approximately one third of the high school student population, were absent from school because of the threats.

At some point that day, one of the petitioners contacted the superintendent and indicated that M.S. was responsible for the messages.  After one postponement at petitioners� request, a superintendent�s hearing was held on October 23, 2003.  M.S., who was represented by an attorney at the hearing, admitted that she was responsible for the threats.  By report dated October 24, 2003, the hearing officer recommended that M.S. be suspended for the remainder of the 2003-2004 school year.  By letter dated October 28, 2003, the superintendent informed petitioners that she concurred with the hearing officer�s recommendation.  Petitioners appealed this decision to respondent and by decision dated November 25, 2003, respondent denied the appeal and upheld the suspension.  This appeal ensued and petitioners� request for interim relief was denied on January 9, 2004.

Petitioners contend that the length of the suspension was unduly harsh and request that it be terminated.  Petitioners also challenge the applicability of respondent�s policy regarding off-campus misconduct.  Respondent maintains that the suspension was warranted by the serious nature of the misconduct and the disruption it caused to the school community.

The appeal must be 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 A.F., 44 Ed Dept Rep __, Decision No. 15,120; Appeal of D.W., 43 id. ___, Decision No. 14,965; Appeal of L.B., 43 id. ___, Decision No. 14,952).  Petitioners do not request expungement of M.S.�s records.  Since M.S. has served the suspension, no further meaningful relief can be granted and the appeal must be dismissed as moot (Appeal of A.F., supra; 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).

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