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Decision No. 15,722

Appeal of CAROL DONOVAN from action of the Board of Education of the Three Village Central School District and Frank J. Carasiti, Superintendent, regarding disciplinary charges.

Decision No. 15,722

(February 1, 2008)

Arthur P. Scheuermann, Esq., School Administrators Association of New York State, attorney for petitioner

Guercio & Guercio, Esqs., attorneys for respondents, Christopher J. Guercio, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the actions of the Board of Education of the Three Village Central School District (“respondent board” or “board”) and Frank J. Carasiti, Superintendent, in administratively processing charges pursuant to Education Law §3020-a.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner is a tenured, certified employee of the district.  On June 12, 2007, respondent board found probable cause to initiate disciplinary proceedings pursuant to Education Law §3020-a against petitioner.  Charges were personally served on petitioner on June 13, 2007.  Petitioner timely requested a hearing on the charges.

This appeal was commenced on July 9, 2007, and interim relief was denied on July 13, 2007.

Petitioner alleges that the disciplinary proceedings against her are defective because the charges served on her do not comply with Education Law §3020-a(2)(a) and §82-1.3(b) of the Commissioner’s regulations.  Specifically, she alleges that the charges do not state the maximum penalty which will be imposed if the employee does not request a hearing, or that will be sought by the board if the employee is found guilty of the charges after a hearing.  Petitioner asks that I vacate the board’s actions, and/or dismiss the charges and proceedings against her.

Respondents generally deny any impropriety in the manner of commencing the disciplinary proceedings, and assert numerous affirmative defenses, including a claim that the Commissioner lacks jurisdiction to entertain this appeal, and that the issues raised by petitioner should be decided by the hearing officer assigned, pursuant to Education Law §3020-a(3)(c)(iii).

During the pendency of the appeal, by letter dated September 19, 2007, respondents’ counsel advised me that the board met on September 11, 2007, and voted to withdraw the contested charges against petitioner. On September 11, 2007, respondent board voted new charges against petitioner, virtually identical to the original charges, and served them personally on her on September 12, 2007.

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 C.A., Sr., 45 Ed Dept Rep 388, Decision No. 15,360; Appeal of the New York Charter Schools Assn., Inc., et al., 45 id. 376, Decision No. 15,355; Appeal of the Bd. of Trustees of the N. Merrick Public Library, et al., 45 id. 363, Decision No. 15,350).

Withdrawal of the charges that were the subject matter of this appeal renders the appeal moot (Appeal of Chertock, 45 Ed Dept Rep 348, Decision No. 15,344).

In light of the foregoing disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining arguments.