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Decision No. 15,807

Appeal of B.P., on behalf of her son T.P., from action of the Board of Education of the West Seneca Central School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 15,807

(August 1, 2008)

Carol R. Rosenthal, Esq., attorney for petitioner

Hodgson, Russ LLP, attorneys for respondent, Brendan Kelleher, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the West Seneca Central School District (“respondent”) to permanently suspend her son, T.P.  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2006-2007 school year, T.P. was an 11th grade student at respondent’s high school.  On three separate dates in September and October, 2006, bomb threat notes were found in the high school.  In each instance, the high school was evacuated and appropriate law enforcement personnel were contacted.

By letter dated October 27, 2006, the superintendent notified petitioner that her son was being charged with writing and delivering the September 22, 2006 bomb threat and failing to cooperate with school officials, in violation of respondent’s code of conduct.  A superintendent’s hearing was held on November 1, 2006.

The hearing was re-convened on November 7, 2006 to consider the penalty to be imposed.  By memorandum dated November 7, 2006, the hearing officer recommended that T.P. be found guilty of all charges and suspended permanently, with the possibility to be readmitted by application in September 2007.  By letter dated November 7, 2006, respondent’s superintendent adopted the hearing officer’s recommendation. 

Following the superintendent’s decision, petitioner retained new counsel and by letter dated November 13, 2006, petitioner appealed the superintendent’s determination and requested that the superintendent consider new evidence obtained subsequent to the superintendent’s hearing.  The superintendent advised petitioner by letter dated December 11, 2006, that the new evidence did not alter his determination.  Following a special meeting held on December 20, 2006, respondent upheld the superintendent’s determination and this appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on February 22, 2007.  Thereafter, upon further review, respondent permitted T.P. to return to school on the first day of the 2007-2008 school year. 

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).  Petitioner requests that the disciplinary action be overturned and that her son be permitted to return to school, but she does not seek expungement of his records.  Since T.P. served his suspension and respondent agreed to allow T.P. to return to school in September 2007, the appeal is moot (Appeal of Deborah F., 42 Ed Dept Rep 178, Decision No. 14,813; Appeal of E.F., 42 id. 23, Decision No. 14,762; Appeal of K.M., 41 id. 318, Decision No. 14,699). 

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