New York (State). Superintendent of Common Schools.

Judicial decisions of the State Superintendent of Common Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Commissioner of Education, from 1822 to 1913 online

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264, Laws of 1896, it is provided that when a district has contracted with another
district to teach the cliildren of the district, the qualified voters of such district
are authorised that is, permitted, not directed, to provide by tax or otherwise for
the conveyance of such children, etc.

A school district meeting does not possess any power to direct how the pub-
lic money apportioned for teachers' wages, shall be expended.

The resolution was adopted at the annual meeting in district 18, directing
the trustee to engage conveyances for the transportation of the children of the
district to the school in Hermon village, did not provide by tax or otherwise
for such conveyance, and was adopted prior to any contract being made with the
school in Hermon village and, hence, is but an expression of opinion as to what
action the trustee should take in the event of a contract being made.

The contention of the appellant that by the adoption of such resolution it
was mandatory upon Trustee Loucks to engage such conveyance at the expense
of the district, and that such resolution could not be altered, repealed or modified
at a subsequent district meeting, is not well taken.

Subdivision 13 of section 14, article i, title 7 of the Consolidated School
Law provides that a school meeting duly assembled has the power to alter, repeal
and modify their proceedings from time to time as occasion may require.

The resolution adopted at the special meeting held in district 18, October 19,
1 000, was an alteration and modification of the second resolution adopted at the
annual meeting of such district and an expression of opinion of the persons
present as to the action which should be taken by Trustee Loucks in providing
for the conveyance of the children attending the school in Hermon village,
under the said contract of September i, 1900.

The appeal herein is dismissed.



366 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW VORK

4445

In tlie matter of the appeal of Thomas Penney v. board of education of union
free school district no. 6, town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer county.

It is the duty of trustees of school districts, when requested by a respectable number of
the inhabitants of their respective districts, to call a special meeting for the transac-
tion of any proper and legal business which such petitioners might desire to bring
before it.

Decided April 18, 1896

John S. Wolfe, attorney for appellant

Charles J. Buchanan, attorney for respondents

Skinner, Superintendent

This is an appeal from the refusal of the board of education of union free
school district no. 6, town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer county, upon the
applications of inhabitants of said school district qualified to vote at school
meetings therein, to call a special school meeting or meetings therein for the
purpose of considering and acting upon the proposition to change the school-
house site, and to designate a new schoolhouse site for said district upon which
to construct a new schoolhouse of the district.

The appellant alleges in his appeal that during the month of September
1895, ^ committee of thirteen duly appointed by the legal voters of said school
district, presented to the respondents herein a request that said respondents call
a special meeting of the district for the purpose of considering a change of
schoolhouse site, and the designation of a new site, and the question of whether
the new schoolhouse should be constructed on the old site or not ; that on or
about January 15, 1895, a petition was presented to the board of education,
signed by 210 of the legal voters of said school district, of which the following
is a copy: "To the Honorable Board of School Trustees of Union Free
School District no. 6, of the town of North Greenbush : Gentlemen :вАФ We,
the undersigned, would most respectfully request you to call a district meeting,
at which the subject of a schoolhouse site mav be considered, or that you call
an election and submit the direct f|uestion. Shall the old site be used?" that said
application of the committee of thirteen and said petition of 210 legal voters
were, and each of them, refused by the respondents.

The respondents in their answer to the appeal herein deny that said appeal
states facts sufficient to constitute an appeal against any action by the resj)ond-
ents, and that the same is not sufficient and does not in any wise constitute an
appeal from any action by the respondents as stated therein. Said respondents
admit that said application of said committee of thirteen, and the petition of
the 210 legal voters were, and each of them was, received, and that they refused
to call said meetings applied and petitioned for. The respondents deny that
they were obliged legally or otherwise to submit any of the resolutions referred
to in the appeal herein to the voters of said school district.

It appears that at a special meeting of the inhabitants of said school dis-
trict, held on Jime 17, 1895, among other proceedings taken thereat, a resolu-



JUDICIAL decisions: meetings 367

tion was adopted by a vote of 155 in the affirmative and 129 in the negative,
that the board of trustees of the said district raise by tax, to be levied by instal-
ments, the sum of ^25,000, for the purpose of building a new schoolhouse upon
the site then owned by the district, provided no new site is purchased, and that
bonds be issued and sold, as in said resolution specified. It does not appear
that said resolution has ever been rescinded, reconsidered or amended, or that
any appeal has been taken to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction
from said action of said meeting.

Under the provisions of title 14 of the Consolidated School Law of 1894,
it is enacted that any person conceiving himself aggrieved in consequence of
any decision made by any school meeting, by any other official act or decision
concerning any other matter under said act, or any other act pertaining to com-
mon schools, may appeal to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

This Department for forty years has entertained and decided appeals from
the acts or decisions of trustees of school districts in refusing, when requested
by a respectable number of the inhabitants of their district, to call a special
meeting for the transaction of any legal and proper business which such peti-
tioners might desire to bring before it.

It is clear from the action of the said .special meeting, held in said district
on June 17, 1895, authorizing a tax of $25,000 for a new schoolhouse upon the
site then owned by the district, provided no new site is purchased, tha: the
changing of the site and the designation of a new site, was being' considered and
might be made before the construction of the new schoolhouse was commenced.
In fact, it appears that a proposition to designate the Wiggins property as a ntw
schoolhouse site was acted upon at a special meeting of the district held on
August 26, 1895.

The power to designate schoolhouse sites is given by the school law to dis-
trict meetings and such meetings can not delegate that power to trustees.

I am clearly of opinion that the qualified voters of union free school dis-
trict no. 6, North Greenbush, have the right and should have an opportunity to
fully discuss and consider the question of a change of the schoolhouse site therein
and to designate a new schoolhouse site upon which to construct their new
schoolhouse, and it was the duty of the respondents herein to have granted the
petition presented to them on January 15, 1896, and to have called a special
district meeting to consider and act upon the matters stated in said petition.

I decide that the appeal herein is sufficient under the school law relating
to appeals and the rules of practice of this Department relative to appeals, and
that I have jurisdiction to entertain, hear and decide the same ; that it was a
violation of duty on the part of the respondents herein in refusing to call
a special district meeting for the purposes asked for in the petition of the legal
voters of the district presented to them on January 15, 1896.

On January 29, 1S96, I made an order herein enjoining and restraining
the board of education of union free school district no. 6, town of Greenbush,
Rensselaer county, from advertising for bids to construct a new school building
upon the present schoolhouse site of said district ; and from opening said bids



368 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

should such advertisement have been made ; and from making or lettinj^ any
contract for the building of said new schoolhouse upon the present schooihouse
site of said district; and from doing any act, matter or thing in relation to the
construction of said new school building until the hearing and decision by me
of the appeal herein, or until any further order shall be made by me in the
premises.

The appeal herein is sustained.

It is ordered, That the board of education of union free school district no.
6, town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer county be, and it is hereby, directed.
without unnecessary delay, to call a special meeting of the inhabitants of said
union free school district qualified to vote at school meetings therein, pursuant
to the provisions of section 10, article 2, title 8 of the Consolidated School Law
of 1894, chapter 556 of the Laws of 1S94, and the acts amendatory thereof, for
the purpose of considering the proposition whether the new schoolhouse for said
district shall be constructed upon the present schoolhouse site; and if such prop-
osition shall be decided in the negative, then to consider the proposition of
changing the present schoolhouse site, and the designation of a new schoolhouse
site.

It is further ordered, That the order made by me herein on January 29.
1896, enjoining and restraining said board of education from advertising for and
opening bids for the construction of the new schoolhouse, and from letting any
contract for the building of such new schoolhouse, and from doing any act,
matter or thing in relation to the construction of said new schoolhouse be, and
the same hereby is, continued in full force and effect until a further order shall
be made by me in the premises.



4465

In the matter of the appeal of John C. Runkle and Howard L. Waldo, from
proceedings of annual school meeting held August 4, 1896, in union free
school district no. 3, town of Castleton, Richmond county.

In union free school districts other than those whose Hmits correspond with those of an
incorporated village or city, at the annual school meeting thereof, the vote to make
appropriation for school purposes and to levy taxes therefor, must be taken by ballot
or ascertained by taking and recording the ayes and noes of the qualilied voters attend-
ing and voting at such meeting. Where at any such meeting the clerk of the meeting
is instructed to cast a ballot for or against any such appropriation, by a viva voce vote,
and thereupon the items were read and the clerk cast one ballot for each, such pro-
ceedings were not in accordance with the provisions of the school law ; tliat a vote to
increase or diminish the number of members of the board of education of any sucli
union free school district can only be taken at an annual meeting of the district, and the
proposition must be determined by a majority vote of the qualified voters of the district
present and voting, and such vote must be ascertained by taking and recording the
ayes and noes. Where the vote upon a motion, that the members of the board of educa-
tion be increased, was taken viva voce or by acclamation, such proceedings were not in



JUDICIAL decisions: meetings 369

accordance with the provisions of the school law. The trustees of such union free
school districts must be elected by ballot, and a motion made, upon a vote taken viva
voce or by acclamation, that the secretary of the meeting be instructed to cast a vote for
each of the persons nominated for the oflice of trustees, is not a compliance with the
provisions of the school law.
Decided September 14, 1896

J. L. Davenport, attorney for appellants

Skinner, Superintendent

The appellants in the above-entitled matter appeal from the following pro-
ceedings had and taken at the annual school meeting held on August 4, 1896,
in union free school district no. 3. town of Castleton, Richmond county:

1 From the action and proceedings of said meeting, purporting to increase
the number of members of the board of education of said district from five to
nine.

2 From the action and proceedings of said meeting in the alleged election
of six members of said board of education.

3 From the action and proceedings of said meeting in the alleged authoriza-
tion of the levy of a tax or taxes for the items named in the budget presented by
the board of education as necessary to defray the expenses incident to conducting
the school in said district, etc.

4 From the action and proceedings of said meeting in the alleged election of
a clerk of said district.

Annexed to the appeal is a copy of the mintites of the said annual school
meeting, and annexed to said copy of minutes is the affidavit of Joseph Quinlan,
clerk of said district, in which Quinlan alleges that the said copy of minutes is
a true copy of the minutes of said meeting kept by Thomas J. Fetherstone, as
secretary of said meeting, and as copied by said Quinlan into the minute book
of the district.

An answer to the appeal has been made by George Sheridan, jr, who claims
to have been elected at said annual meeting as one of the trustees and one of
the members of the board of education for said district for the term of two
years. Annexed to the answer are the affidavits of George Bowman, the chair-
man, Thomas J. Fetherstone, secretary of said annual meeting, and the joint
affidavit of Andrew Fetherstone, and Michael Mahoney, who claim to have acted
as inspectors of election at said annual meeting.

From the proofs presented in said appeal and answer, the following facts
are established :

That on August 4, 1896, the board of trustees or education of said union
free school district consisted of five members, the term of office of two of such
members expiring on said August 4, 1896; that at the annual school meetnig in
said district held on August 4, 1896, George Bowman was elected chairinan and
Thomas J. Fetherstone secretary ; that the financial report of the board of educa-
tion was read and on motion was received as read; that the statement of money
required for the ensuing school year for school purposes, exclusive of public



370 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

moneys, was read, and motion made and seconded that the clerk be directed to
cast one ballot in favor of each item as read, which motion was lost, and a motion
duly seconded that the said items be voted on separately as read, was adopted ;
that a ballot was commenced to be taken on voting a tax to raise the sum of
$13,000 for teachers' salaries and 66 votes received, when a motion that the
motion to vote on appropriations separately be reconsidered and the clerk be
instructed to cast one ballot for or against each item of the budget as read was
made, seconded and adopted; that the items of said budget were read and the
clerk cast one ballot for each item ; that a motion was made and secraided that
the board of education be increased to seven members, to which an amendment
was offered that said board of education be increased to nine members, and
that the vote upon the amendment was taken by dividing the house and the
amendment declared by the chairman to have been adopted, and thereupon the
motion as amended was put to a viva voce vote or to a vote by acclamation, and
declared by the chairman to have been carried ; that thereupon a protest was
made by one E. J. Schriver that the action of the meeting in the increase of the
number of members of the board of education was illegal; that the following
persons were nominated for members of the board of education, namely, George
Sheridan, jr and Michael Smith, for two years; Dr J. J. \'an Rensselaer and
Charles Schneider, for one year; and James AIcNally and Timothy P. Hurley,
for three years ; and thereupon the chairman declared the nominations closed,
and motion was adopted instructing the clerk to cast one ballot for each of the
said persons so nominated; the clerk cast one ballot for each of said persons so
nominated and the chairman declared them elected as members of said board of
education ; that the following persons were nominated for district clerk, namely,
Joseph Quinlan, William J. Edwards, James T. Ellets and D. J. Donovan; that
a ballot was taken for district clerk, which resulted as follows: whole number
of votes 273, of which Joseph Quinlan received 137, William J. Edwards 54,
James T. Ellets 46, D. J. Donovan 30, and 6 scattering, and the chairman declared
said Quinlan elected district clerk.

There is no contention between the appellants and respondents as to the
action and proceedings of said meeting upon authorizing the levy of a tax for
the items contained in the statement of the board of education for scliool pur-
poses, or upon the proposition to increase the members of said board and the
election of the members thereof, or in the election of the district clerk.

The papers in the appeal herein call for my decision upon the following
matters :

1 Did said annual rchool meeting legally authorize the board of education
to levy a tax for the items reported necessary to be raised by tax for school
purposes, or any of said items?

2 Did said annual school meeting legally adopt a proposition or resolution
increasing the number of members of the board of education thereof from five
members to nine members ?

3 Did said annual school meeting legally elect said six persons, or any of
them, as members of said board of education?



JUDICIAL decisions: meetings 371

4 Did said annual school meeting legall)' elect Joseph Quinlan as district
clerk?

In section iS, article 4, title 8, of the Consolidated School Law of 1894, it
is enacted that it shall be the duty of the board of education, at the annual meet-
ing of the district, besides any other report or statement required by law. to
present a detailed statement in writing of the amount of money which shall be
required for the ensuing year for school purposes, exclusive of public moneys,
specifying the several purposes for which it will be required, and the amount
for each.

By section 19, article 4, title 8, of the Consolidated School Law of 1S94, it
is enacted that after the presentation of such statement the question shall be
taken upon voting the necessary taxes to meet the estimated expenditures, and
when demanded by any voter present, the question shall be taken upon each
item separately, and the inhabitants may increase the amount of any estimated
expenditure, or reduce the same, except for teachers' wages and the ordinary
contingent expenses of the school or schools.

In section 10, article 2, title 8, of the Consolidated School Law of 1894, it
is enacted that in union free school districts other than those whose limits cor-
respond with an incorporated city or village, on all propositions arising at the
meetings thereof involving the expenditure of money, or authorizing the levy of
a tax or taxes in one sum, or by instalments, the vote thereon shall be taken
by ballot, or ascertained by taking and recording the ayes and noes of such quali-
fied voters attending and voting at such meetings.

The board of education presented to said annual meeting the statement
required by section 18, article 4. title 8, of the Consolidated School Law, and
thereupon it was the duty of the qualified voters attending such meeting to vote
the necessary taxes to meet such expenditures, by ballot, or by the clerk or secre-
tary of the meeting taking and recording the name of each qualified voter present
and voting and setting opposite the name of each such person voting whether
he or she voted aye or no. Such vote could have been taken upon the aggregate
sum of the items in the statement, or, when demanded by any voter present, the
vote could be taken upon each item separately. The method prescribed by the
school law, as above quoted, was not pursued at said annual meeting. A ballot
was taken upon the item of S13.000 for teachers' salaries, and after 66 votes ha 1
been received a vote theretofore taken to vote upon each item separately was
rescinded and a motion instructing the clerk to cast a ballot for or against each
item as read, was adopted bv a viva voce vote, or a vote taken by acclamation,
and thereupon the items were read over and the clerk cast one ballot for each
item. It is clear that said proceedings were not in accordance with the provisions
of the school law. Under the school law every qualified voter present at said
meeting had the right to cast his individual ballot upon the queslion of author-
izing a tax for the items contained in the statement of the board of education,
or to have his or her name recorded and the fact set opposite to said name
whether he or she voted aye or no. The chairman or any other officer of the
meeting had not, nor had the voters present by a majority vote or otherwise, the



yj2 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF XEW YORK

lawful authorit}- to deprive any qualified voter of such right. The ballots cast
by the clerk for such items were not a compliance with the provisions of the
school law.

1 decide that the action and proceedings of said annual meeting relative
to authorizing the levy of a tax or taxes for the items contained in said state-
ment of the board of education required for school purposes, were illegal and
void. That upon an appeal to me from any tax levied by the board of education
under and pursuant to such proceedings, said tax would be set aside as illegal
and void and not authorized under the provisions of the school law.

In section 13, article 5, title 8, of the Consolidated School Law of 1894, it
is enacted that at any annual meeting held in any union free school district whose
limits do not correspond to those of an incorporated village or city, the qualified
voters may determine by a majority vote of such voters present and voting, to
be ascertained by taking and recording the ayes and noes, to increase or diminish
the number of members of the board of education of such district. If such board
shall consist of less than nine members, and such meeting shall determine to
increase the number, such meeting shall elect such additional number so deter-
mined upon, the first to hold office one year, the second two years, and the third
three years.

The proceedings to increase or diminish the number of members of the board
of education of union free school districts whose limits do not correspond to
those of any incorporated village or city, are provided by statute and the statute
must be strictly complied with. Such proceedings must be taken at an annual
meeting, and the proposition must be determined by a majority vote of the quali-
fied voters of the district present and voting, and such vote must be ascertained
by taking and recording the ayes and noes, that is, the clerk of the meeting must
record the name of each qualified voter who votes upon the proposition, and
must set opposite to the name of such voter whether he or she votes aye or no
upon such proposition.

It is not claimed, and the facts established do not show, that, in the proceed-
ings had and taken at said annual meeting, the vote upon the proposition to
increase the number of the members of the board of education of the district
was ascertained in the manner provided by the school law as above quoted. A
motion was made and seconded that the number of members of the board of
education be increased to seven ; that thereupon motion was made and seconded
that such motion be amended by increasing said number to nine ; that the vote
upon such amendment was taken by dividing the house and the amendment
declared adopted ; that the vote upon the motion thus amended was not adopted
by a majority of the voters present and voting thereon, ascertained by taking
and recording the ayes and noes, but was declared adopted by a viva voce vote,
or by acclamation. The said proceedings were not in accordance with the pro-
visions of the school law. Under the provisions of the school law every quali-
fied voter of the district present at such annual meeting had the right to vote
upon said proposition, and it was the duty of the officers of said meeting to



JUDICIAL decisions: meetings 373

ascertain such vote by taking and recording the name of each quahfied voter



Online LibraryNew York (State). Superintendent of Common SchoolsJudicial decisions of the State Superintendent of Common Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Commissioner of Education, from 1822 to 1913 → online text (page 46 of 188)