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Decision No. 17,655

Appeal of D.W., on behalf of her children B.S.C. and B.M.C., from action of the Board of Education of the Bethlehem Central School District regarding immunization.

Decision No. 17,655

(June 17, 2019)

Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Beth A. Bourassa, Esq., of counsel

BERLIN., Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Bethlehem Central School District (“respondent”) that her children, B.S.C. and B.M.C. (“the students”), are not entitled to religious exemptions from the immunization requirements of Public Health Law (“PHL”) §2164.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Given the disposition of this appeal, a detailed recitation of the factual background is unnecessary.  Briefly, the record indicates that petitioner, the students’ mother, applied for religious exemptions from the immunization requirements of PHL §2164 on the students’ behalf in or about September 2018.  After several requests for more complete applications, respondent’s middle school principal denied the requested exemptions by letter dated January 3, 2019.  This letter provided information about how to appeal the determination to the Commissioner of Education under Education Law §310.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on February 14, 2019.

Petitioner argues that respondent did not properly consider the exemption requests, that the exemptions should be granted, and that denial of her requests violates her constitutional rights.

Respondent asserts that the appeal must be dismissed because petitioner failed to effectuate proper service and the appeal is untimely.  Respondent further submits that the appeal is moot because the students have obtained all required immunizations after the appeal was commenced and have been admitted to respondent’s schools.

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 Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937).  According to an affidavit by the principal of respondent’s middle school, subsequent to the denial of petitioner’s request for interim relief in this matter, petitioner provided the district with documentation demonstrating that the students had received all required vaccinations.  The students were thereafter admitted to respondent’s schools on March 12, 2019.  Thus, respondent no longer seeks to exclude the students from its schools on the basis that they have not received all required immunizations.  Accordingly, the appeal is academic and must be dismissed as moot (Appeal of M.M.-D., 58 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,504; Appeal of K.G., 55 id., Decision No. 16,875).

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