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Decision No. 15,818

Appeal of R.G. and L.G., on behalf of their son V.G., from action of the Board of Education of the Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 15,818

(August 12, 2008)

Kuntz, Spagnuolo & Murphy, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Mario L. Spagnuolo, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the decision of the Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District (“respondent”) prohibiting their son, V.G., from attending the end-of-year cruise and participating in modified baseball for the remainder of the 2007-2008 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

On April 30, 2008, V.G., a middle school student in respondent’s district, witnessed a racist word as well as an anti-Semitic symbol being drawn on the boys’ locker room wall.  On May 2, 2008, subsequent to being questioned about the incident several times, V.G. told the school principal what he had seen.  The principal assigned V.G. a five day out-of-school suspension for failing to report the incident when it occurred and for being dishonest when initially questioned about the event.

On May 5, 2008, V.G.’s father met with the superintendent to discuss whether the punishment was proportionate to the offense.  At that time, the suspension was reduced to a four day out-of-school suspension and a one day in-school suspension.

On May 8, 2008, the superintendent informed petitioners that V.G. would no longer be allowed to participate on the baseball team.  By letter dated May 9, 2008, petitioners were further notified that V.G. would not be allowed to attend the end-of-year cruise.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on May 28, 2008.

Petitioners object to V.G.’s suspension from extra-curricular activities.  They request an annulment of the determination regarding V.G.’s participation in baseball and the cruise.

Respondent maintains that petitioners failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.  Respondents further contend that the punishment was justified and that V.G. received appropriate due process.

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).  The only relief petitioners seek is to overturn the determination prohibiting V.G. from finishing the 2008 baseball season and attending the cruise.  Since the school year is now over, the appeal is moot.

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