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Decision No. 15,544

Appeal of HEIDI VAUGHT, on behalf of her son JONATHON, from action of the Chittenango Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 15,544

(March 5, 2007)

Ferrara, Fiorenza, Larrison, Barrett & Reitz, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Kristin B. Greeley, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Education of the Chittenango Central School District (“respondent”) to change the transportation pick-up point assigned to her son, Jonathon, during the summer of 2006.  The appeal must be dismissed.

In the summer of 2006, Jonathon was invited by respondent to participate in an extended school year program, for which respondent provided transportation.  In early July, petitioner contacted respondent’s Director of Transportation (“director”) to request that Jonathon’s summer bus stop be changed to his stop during the regular school year.  The director denied this request, and petitioner appealed the determination to respondent’s superintendent.  Petitioner claims that the superintendent never responded to her and that other school personnel did not address her concerns.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that Jonathon’s summer bus stop was unsafe.  Though petitioner acknowledges that her appeal is moot, she claims that she was mistreated by the director and asks that I render a determination that, among other things, he “acted with gross incompetence” and “neglect of duty.”  In addition, petitioner also requests that I determine that the superintendent willfully delayed communicating with her in order to render her appeal moot.  Moreover, petitioner requests a recommendation that school officials engage in “constructive communication” with respect to matters such as this and that she be given “future consideration” with respect to the establishment of summer bus stops. 

Respondent denies petitioner’s claims and asserts that Jonathon’s summer bus stop was both safe and determined in compliance with district policy.  Respondent also contends that petitioner’s appeal is untimely, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and should be dismissed as moot. 

An appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of, unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR §275.16; Appeal of O’Brien, 44 Ed Dept Rep 43, Decision No. 15,092; Appeal of Spina, 43 id. 354, Decision No. 15,016).  Petitioner first contacted district personnel in early July 2006 regarding this matter and commenced this appeal on July 28, 2006.  Accordingly, I find the appeal to be timely.

To the extent that petitioner argues that Jonathon’s summer bus stop was unsafe and should have been changed, the appeal is 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).  The summer program ended on August 4, 2006.  Accordingly, the issue of summer transportation became moot at that point.

With respect to petitioner’s claims concerning the director, I find that petitioner essentially seeks a reprimand or admonition.  Such relief is not available under Education Law §310 (Appeal of C.R., 45 Ed Dept Rep 303, Decision No. 15,330; Appeal of Hohenberger, 40 id. 348, Decision No. 14,494).

Finally, the Commissioner will not render an advisory opinion on an issue before it becomes justiciable (Appeal of S.A.M., 44 Ed Dept Rep 481, Decision No. 15,238; Appeal of Lombardo, 44 id. 167, Decision No. 15,135; Appeal of American Quality Beverages, LLC, et al., 42 id. 153, Decision No. 14,805). There is no evidence in the record that petitioner’s son will participate in respondent’s summer program in the future.  To the extent that petitioner seeks “future consideration” when establishing summer bus stops, the appeal must be dismissed as premature.

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