Decision No. 18,350
Appeal and Application of S.P.M. II, on behalf of his children, from action of the Board of Education of the West Seneca Central School District regarding residency.
Decision No. 18,350
(October 24, 2023)
Harris Beach, PLLC, attorneys for respondent, Jeffrey J. Weiss, Esq., of counsel
ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from action of the Board of Education of the West Seneca Central School District (“respondent”) that his children (the “students”) are not district residents. Petitioner additionally seeks removal of respondent’s superintendent, assistant superintendent, and director of special education. The appeal must be dismissed.
Petitioner previously commenced an appeal to the Commissioner in which he challenged respondent’s determination that the students did not reside within the district (Appeal of S.P.M. II, 62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,297). The facts of the appeal were set forth therein and need not be repeated here.
Briefly, on or about March 3, 2023, petitioner notified respondent that the family had moved to an address outside of respondent’s district. On March 16, 2023, respondent informed petitioner that the students were no longer district residents. Petitioner appealed this determination pursuant to Education Law § 310; his request for interim relief was granted on March 29, 2023.
In a decision dated June 29, 2023, I dismissed the appeal as moot, noting that petitioner acknowledged that he and his family no longer resided within respondent’s district (Appeal of S.P.M. II, 62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,297). Petitioner thereafter commenced this appeal and application. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on July 26, 2023.
Petitioner asserts that respondent’s exclusion of his children as non-residents violated various state and federal laws. For relief, he seeks removal of respondent’s superintendent, assistant superintendent, and director of special education.
Respondent argues that the appeal should be dismissed in its entirety on various grounds, including principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel, lack of standing, and lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The majority of petitioner’s claims must be dismissed on grounds of collateral estoppel and res judicata. Res judicata, or claim preclusion, prevents a party from relitigating a claim from which he or she had a full and fair opportunity to litigate and which was decided against him or her (Ryan, et al. v. New York Tel. Co., et al., 62 NY2d 494 ). Collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, is
a narrower species of res judicata [which] precludes a party from relitigating in a subsequent action or proceeding an issue clearly raised in a prior action or proceeding and decided against that party or those in privity, whether or not the tribunals or causes of action are the same (Id. at 500).
The overriding principle is that a party should get only a single “bite at the apple” – i.e., a single chance to litigate his or her claims (see generally Rapone v. Katz, 39 Misc.3d 129 (A) [1st Dept 2013]). It is well settled that principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel apply in appeals pursuant to Education Law § 310 (see Appeal of Bach, 32 Ed Dept Rep 499, Decision No. 12,898; Appeal of Tobin, 30 id. 315, Decision No. 12,477).
Here, petitioner presents almost identical allegations and seeks almost identical relief as he did in Appeal of S.P.M. II (62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,297). Many of petitioner’s allegations concern respondent’s failure to determine that the students are district residents as well as violations of state and federal laws. Having litigated the same claim and having received an adverse determination, petitioner may not relitigate the issue a second time (Appeal of Tobin, 30 Ed Dept 315; Appeal of Roth, 26 id. 165; Matter of Monaco, 24 id. 348). Therefore, the appeal must be dismissed on grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel as a result of my decision in Appeal of S.P.M. II, 62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,297.
Second, for the same reasons set forth in the prior appeal, 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’s stay request for the students to remain in respondent’s school district has already been denied. Furthermore, because the summer of 2023 has concluded and petitioner acknowledged that the family no longer resides in respondent’s school district, there is no actual controversy with respect to whether petitioner’s children are entitled to remain in respondent’s school district. Therefore, the appeal is moot.
Finally, to the extent that petitioner seeks removal of the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and director of special education, the petition contains no evidence that they violated the Education Law or neglected their duties. Moreover, some of these individuals are not “school officers” within the meaning of Education Law § 2  (see, e.g., Application of a Student with a Disability, 58 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,452; Appeal of Affronti, 54 id., Decision No. 16,756). Therefore, petitioner’s removal application must be denied.
I have considered petitioner’s remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.
THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.
THE APPLICATION IS DENIED.
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