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Decision No. 15,501

Appeal of C.S., on behalf of her daughter C.C., from action of the Board of Education of the Rush-Henrietta Central School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 15,501

(December 15, 2006)

DesMarteau & Beale, attorneys for respondent, George DesMarteau, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Rush-Henrietta Central School District (“respondent”) to suspend her daughter, C.C., from school for the period from December 14, 2005 through June 23, 2006.  The appeal must be dismissed.

C.C. was a freshman in respondent’s high school during the 2005-2006 school year.  On December 13, 2005, C.C. was involved in a physical altercation during which a faculty member was struck while trying to intervene.  By letters dated December 13 and 14, 2005 petitioner was notified that C.C. was suspended for five days pending a superintendent’s hearing on charges of fighting and endangering the health and safety of students and staff.

On December 20, 2005 a disciplinary hearing was conducted pursuant to Education Law §3214 and neither petitioner nor C.C. attended.  On December 21, 2005, after considering the hearing officer’s recommendation and reviewing the entire record, including C.C.’s disciplinary history, the superintendent found C.C. guilty of all charges and continued her suspension through June 23, 2006.

Petitioner appealed the superintendent’s decision to respondent.  On January 3, 2006, respondent heard petitioner’s appeal and by letter dated January 4, 2006, respondent affirmed the superintendent’s determination. This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on March 8, 2006.

Petitioner contends that C.C. should not have been disciplined because she was acting in self-defense.  Petitioner further alleges that respondent violated C.C.’s due process rights by failing to provide her with a fair hearing and that the penalty imposed was excessive.  Respondent asserts that petitioner’s daughter was afforded all the due process to which she was entitled and that the appeal should be dismissed because the petition is not properly verified and is untimely.

Section 275.5 of the Commissioner's regulations requires that all pleadings in an appeal to the Commissioner be verified.  When a petition is not properly verified, the appeal must be dismissed (Appeal of Nocerino, 40 Ed Dept Rep 244, Decision No. 14,472; Appeal of Shabazz, 38 id. 481, Decision No. 14,076).  The petition in this case was verified by C.C.’s grandmother, and not by petitioner, as required by the Commissioner’s regulations.  While petitioner’s signature on the last page of the petition is notarized, merely notarizing a signature does not constitute verification of a pleading (Appeal of Nocerino, 40 Ed Dept Rep 244, Decision No. 14,472; Appeal of Shabazz, 38 id. 481, Decision No. 14,076).  Therefore, the appeal must be dismissed for lack of verification.

Moreover, 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 exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of B.K. and R.K., 44 Ed Dept Rep 195, Decision No. 15,146; Appeal of V.L., 44 id. 160, Decision No. 15,132; Appeal of Garvin, 44 id. 30, Decision No. 15,087).  Since the 2005-2006 school year has ended and the suspension has already been served, 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’ remaining contentions.