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SUPERINTENDENT OF COMMON SCHOOLS
THE LAws RELATING To common schools, AND THE ForMS AND REGULATIONs
[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven, by JoHN A. DIx, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Northern District of New-York.]
The decisions of the Superintendent of Common Schools contained in this volume were arranged and prepared for publication under circumstances which are explained in a communication to the legislature, of which the following is an extract:
“STATE OF NEW-YORK,
“TO THE LEGISLATURE.
“The Superintendent of Common Schools begs leave to state, that he has collected and arranged in a form similar to that in which cases decided in the Supreme Court are reported, the decisions which have been pronounced by his predecessor and himself in matters of appeal brought before them for adjudication. This collection is designed to embrace every important case which has been decided by the Superintendent; and for the purpose of rendering the decisions more serviceable as precedents, each one is accompanied by a brief statement of the principle or rule which it establishes, or what may with greater technical propriety be denominated a note of the case, and with a succinct recital of the facts, where such recital is essential to a clear comprehension of the subject matter of adjudication. A very large proportion of the cases reported consists of opinions given upon ea parte statements; but as the facts accompany the opinions, they will show as clearly as decisions pronounced in matters of appeal, what would be the issue of an adjudication by the Superintendent in a similar case, and they will therefore have the same utility as precedents.
Jilbany, 4th January, 1837.
“The decisions of the Superintendent have always been divested, as far as possible, of technicalities. The aim has been to render them so plain that there should be no room for misapprehension, even with those persons who are wholly unacquainted with legal maxims or forms. They have been reported with a strict regard to the same object; and if they have the recommendation of clearness and simplicity, all that was in view will have been attained.
“If each school district were to be put in possession of a copy [of the decisions,] it is believed that applications to the Superintendent for his opinion would be less frequent, and that appeals would often be prevented in cases in which they are now made; as persons thinking themselves aggrieved, would almost always be able to find among the reported cases, one so nearly similar to their own, as to remove all doubt as to the result in the event of an adjudication by the Superintendent. It would, therefore, be reasonable to expect that the inhabitants of school districts would in numerous instances adjust by amicable arrangement matters of difference, which, for want of such a guide, would have been brought before him for decision. Thus not only would the delay, trouble and expense of a controversy be avoided, but there would be no incentive to that feeling of hostility which is too often engendered during the prosecution of appeals, and which frequently continues to disturb the harmony of school districts and to shed an unhappy influence upon the schools themselves, long after the subject matter of contention has been disposed of The advantage to the Superintendent of having it in his power to refer disputants to a decision applicable to the matter of controversy between them, would be great; for, in case of an application for his opinion, he could, by a mere reference to a reported case, avoid the necessity of entering into the same explanations, as he is now compelled to do in a multitude of cases, where the facts and the rule applicable to them are the Same.
“There would be no difficulty in publishing the work at private cost, if the Legislature should not think proper to authorize its publication at the expense of the State. In the former case, the benefits to be expected from it would be but partial. The publisher would endeavor to realize as large a profit as possible, and the price would probably be such that its circulation would be comparatively limited. The work has been voluntarily undertaken and executed by the Superintendent, with the sole view of rendering the common schools a service. He has considered his time, as well as the materials on which he has been employed, as the property of the public; and the work is respectfully presented to the Legislature, with the desire that it may be disposed of, should it be deemed worthy of any action on their part, in such manner as they may deem most useful and
proper. “JOHN A. DIX.”
This communication was referred to the committee of the Assembly on colleges, academies and common schools, who reported a bill, which passed both houses and became a law, and of which the following is the first section:
AN ACT concerning Common Schools.
The People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:
§ 1. The Superintendent of common schools is directed to publish, for the use of the common schools in this state, the several acts now in force relating thereto, together with such decisions as may have been made by said Superintendent, and his predecessors in office, in matters of appeal brought before them for adjudication: and he shall also furnish one copy to each town clerk for the use of the commissioners and inspectors of common schools.
The office of Superintendent of Common Schools was created by chap. 242 of the laws of 1812, and Gideon Hawley was appointed to fill it. He continued in office until February, 1821, when Welcome Esleeck was appointed in his place. In April of the same year, the office was discontinued as a distinct depart