Ross v. Wilson

308 N.Y. 605 (1955)

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Ross v. Wilson

New York Court of Appeals
308 N.Y. 605 (1955)

EL

Facts

Ross Mills District, a local school district, was consolidated into a newly formed central school district pursuant to New York education statutes. After the district’s consolidation, members of the new central school district’s board voted to close the smaller Ross Mills school and sell the property. The new board members rejected a $3,000 offer for the property from Ross Grange No. 305, a local fraternal organization, and instead accepted a $2,000 offer from the Ross Mills Church of God. The New York commissioner of education approved the sale. Ross Grange members (plaintiffs) brought an action seeking annulment of the sale in New York state trial court. Ross Grange members sued the school board and the New York commissioner of education (collectively, the school system) (defendants), claiming the school system arbitrarily accepted an offer substantially lower than another bona fide offer for the school property. Grange members also argued that, in rejecting Ross Grange’s higher offer in favor of a lower offer from the Ross Mills Church of God, the school system essentially donated $1,000 of public funds to a church. The school system contended that it properly exercised its discretion by considering the type and character of a potential buyer and validly opted not to sell the property to a fraternal organization. The trial court annulled the sale. The school system appealed, and the state appellate court reinstated the sale, determining the sale to the Ross Mills Church of God was not purely arbitrary. The Ross Grange members appealed to New York’s highest court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Van Voorhis, J.)

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