Skip to main content

Decision No. 16,110

Appeal of STEVEN WHITE from action of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District regarding the hiring of a law firm.

Decision No. 16,110

(July 27, 2010)

Minerva & D’Agostino, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Roslyn Z. Roth, Esq., of counsel

STEINER, Commissioner.--Petitioner objects to the actions of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District (“respondent”) at its meeting on November 18, 2009 to hire a new law firm.  The appeal must be dismissed.

At respondent’s November 18, 2009 meeting, a motion passed by a vote of five to three to hire the law firm of Minerva & D’Agostino to include a $40,000 retainer, a $250 hourly rate and a $125 hourly rate for travel.  A point of order was made that the motion was improper as it was not on the Board’s agenda and no special meeting was called for that purpose.  The Board heard comment from the treasurer and a legal opinion was requested from respondent’s attorney but respondent’s attorney was not present.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on December 15, 2009. 

Petitioner contends that the motion to hire a new law firm was illegal because it was not on the agenda for the November 18, 2009 meeting and there was no motion made to amend the agenda. 

Respondent contends, interalia, that the hiring of new counsel was included on the agenda of its November 18, 2009 meeting as an item entitled “possible action items as a result of executive session.”  Respondent asserts that the appeal has since been rendered moot by later events including a self-imposed stay of hiring a new law firm until after issuance of a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for legal counsel on January 8, 2010.  Respondent reviewed the 11 bids received on or before the January 25, 2010 RFP deadline and approved a motion at its February 3, 2010 meeting to appoint the law firm of Minerva & D’Agostino. 

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 Tine, 46 Ed Dept Rep 579, Decision No. 15,600; Appeal of N.C., 46 id. 358, Decision No. 15,532; Appeal of Lombardo, 46 id. 282, Decision No. 15,508).

Respondent’s subsequent actions of refraining from implementing the motion passed on November 18, 2009, issuing an RFP on January 8, 2010, and passing a new motion at its February 3, 2010 meeting have rendered this appeal moot.  Respondent’s subsequent vote on February 3, 2010 superseded the November 18, 2009 motion complained of by petitioner.  Accordingly, the appeal must be dismissed.