Skip to main content

Decision No. 15,769

Appeal of DAN PACE from action of the Board of Education of the Lansing Central School District regarding the denial of a petition.

Decision No. 15,769

(June 26, 2008)

Ferrara, Fiorenza, Larrison, Barrett & Reitz, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Norman H. Gross, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the refusal by the Board of Education of the Lansing Central School District (“respondent”) to conduct a “re-vote” with regard to establishment of a school district public library.  The appeal must be dismissed.

On June 15, 2007, at respondent’s annual meeting, the voters defeated a proposition to authorize the establishment of a school district public library.

On December 11, 2007, at a special district meeting, the voters approved a proposition to establish the Lansing Community Library Center as a school district public library.  The voters also approved a library budget of $105,310, and elected nine trustees.

On December 17, 2007, petitioner presented to respondent a petition signed by 106 persons, stating in pertinent part:

We, the undersigned, qualified voters of the Lansing School District, duly petition the Lansing School Board Of Education, to approve a re-vote of the December 11, 2007 vote to provide municipal funding for the Lansing Community Library Center.

It does not appear that petitioner presented the board with the language of an actual proposition.

By letter dated December 21, 2007, respondent’s president advised petitioner that the board would not conduct such a “re-vote”.  Petitioner commenced this appeal on January 9, 2008.

Petitioner contends that respondent had no discretion to refuse his request for a “re-vote,” and asks that I order respondent to conduct such a “re-vote”.

Respondent contends that its refusal to schedule a “re-vote” was rational and reasonable under the circumstances.  Respondent also contends that this appeal must be dismissed for failure to name and serve any of the nine library trustees elected by the voters on December 11, 2007.

The appeal must be dismissed.  On January 7, 2008, the nine elected trustees met and voted to establish the Lansing Community Library as a school district public library.  They also signed an application to the Board of Regents for a provisional charter, which the Board of Regents granted on March 18, 2008.
This appeal does not directly challenge the validity of the election conducted December 11, 2007.  However, it is apparent that petitioner is attempting to undo the results of the December election, thereby potentially jeopardizing the nine individuals’ status as trustees.  I find that the trustees’ status as persons who have been duly elected and who have a legal duty to apply for a charter (Education Law §261) is sufficient to require their joinder as necessary parties (seee.g.Appeal of Barbera, 47 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 15,687; Appeal of Samuel, 45 id. 418, Decision No. 15,371; Appeals of Baldauf, 43 id. 456, Decision No. 15,049).  Because the trustees have not been named and served, I find that the appeal must be dismissed.

Even if I were not dismissing the appeal on procedural grounds, I would dismiss on the merits.  As stated in Appeal of Quarfot, 31 Ed Dept Rep 141, Decision No. 12,597:

Based upon the record before me I cannot conclude that respondent’s determination was in any manner arbitrary or capricious.  Once a matter has been properly presented to the voters and voted on, a Board of Education is not compelled to entertain a petition to resubmit the same or an essentially similar proposition to the electorate for re-vote (Matter of Morrill and DiBiase, 10 Ed Dept Rep 247; Matter of Eaton, 11 id. 17).

On the record before me, there is no suggestion that the question of establishing a school district public library was not properly presented to the voters, and properly approved.  The request for a “re-vote” almost immediately after the action of the voters on December 11, 2007, did not require respondent to place any proposition before the voters.

Petitioner is correct, however, that Education Law §268 does provide that any library established by public vote “may be abolished by majority vote at an election, or at a meeting of the electors duly held, provided that due public notice of the proposed action shall have been given . . . .”  A proposition in proper form, clearly proposing the abolition of the Lansing Community Library, could be presented to respondent in the future, for action under §268.