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Decision No. 16,275

Appeal of M.A., on behalf of her son R.A., from action of the Board of Education of the Waterloo Central School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 16,275

(August 8, 2011)

David A. Hoover, Esq., attorney for respondent

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Waterloo Central School District (“respondent”) to suspend her son.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner’s son, R.A., attended Waterloo High School in respondent’s district during the 2009-2010 school year.  In March 2010, the principal received information that R.A. had been involved in an incident in the boy’s bathroom on or about November 24, 2009.  On March 12, 2010, R.A. met with the principal and a guidance counselor and apparently admitted to engaging in sexual conduct with a female student.  It appears that the principal also met with petitioner on that same day, as well as with her and R.A.’s father on March 15, 2010.  By letter dated March 16, 2010, the principal suspended R.A. for five days. 

A disciplinary hearing was held on March 22 and 25, 2010 at which petitioner and her son were represented by counsel.  At such hearing, the hearing officer concluded that the evidence demonstrated R.A. forcibly touched a female student’s breasts and genitals.  The hearing officer found R.A. to be guilty of engaging in a sexual act in school and recommended suspension for one calendar year.  In a decision dated March 29, 2010, the superintendent adopted the hearing officer’s findings and penalty recommendation. 

Petitioner appealed the superintendent’s decision to respondent.  By letter dated April 16, 2010, respondent upheld the suspension imposed by the superintendent.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on May 19, 2010. 

Petitioner contends that R.A.’s suspension was harsh, has affected his grades and violated his civil rights.  Petitioner also asserts that respondent was unwilling to listen to any and all evidence presented at appeal by her counsel.  As relief she also asks that the suspension be lifted and R.A. returned to school.

Respondent contends that petitioner has failed to meet her burden of proof, that the decision to suspend R.A. was based upon competent and substantial evidence and that the penalty assessed was appropriate and proportionate to the severity of the offense. 

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 a Student with a Disability, 48 Ed Dept Rep 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; Appeal of Embro, 48 id. 204, Decision No. 15,836).  Petitioner seeks only that the suspension be lifted and R.A. returned to school; she does not request expungement of her son’s records.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied and R.A. has served the suspension.  Consequently, the appeal is moot.

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