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Decision No. 15,915

Appeal of M.K., on behalf of her son A.K., from action of Section II of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Inc. regarding participation in interscholastic athletics.

Decision No. 15,915

(May 8, 2009)

Renee L. James, Esq., attorney for the New York State Public High School Association, Inc.

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination by Section II of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Inc. (“Section II”) that her son, A.K., is ineligible for interscholastic competition for the 2008-2009 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

A.K. is a high school senior in the Chatham Central School District.  During the 2004-2005 school year petitioner resided in the New Rochelle City School District (“New Rochelle”) where A.K. entered high school as a freshman.  A.K. repeated ninth grade in New Rochelle in 2005-2006.  He did not participate in interscholastic athletics in either school year. 

In August 2006, petitioner moved to the Chatham Central School District (“Chatham”).  A.K. attended 10th and 11th grades at Chatham High School during the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years, respectively, and participated both years in interscholastic athletics.

On December 20, 2007, when A.K. was in his junior year, Chatham submitted a request for extended eligibility, on A.K.’s behalf, apparently for the 2008-2009 school year.  Under the ‘Duration of Competition’ rules in Commissioner’s regulations, a student is eligible to compete in a high school sport in grades 9-12 for four consecutive seasons, beginning with entry into ninth grade.  A student may be granted extended eligibility upon sufficient evidence that the student’s failure to enter competition during one or more seasons was due to illness, accident or similar circumstances beyond the student’s control (8 NYCRR §135.4[c][7][ii][b][1]).  In its request the district asserted that A.K. was not able to participate in interscholastic athletics during his freshmen year because of “personal difficulties.”  Apparently, he had been treated for depression during that time period. 

Section II denied the district’s request for A.K.’s extended eligibility.  Thereafter, the district presented additional information to the Section II Extended Eligibility Committee for consideration and, on August 29, 2008, was notified that Section II’s denial of extended eligibility for A.K. would stand.  The district apparently did not further pursue an appeal of Section II’s decision within the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Inc. (“NYSPHSAA”). 

Petitioner initiated the instant appeal by service of a verified petition on NYSPHSAA.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied. 

Petitioner claims that Section II failed to seek or obtain appropriate documentation of A.K.’s reasons for failing to participate in interscholastic athletics during 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, prior to making its decision to deny him extended eligibility for 2008-2009.  NYSPHSAA asserts that it is not a proper party and that the appeal must be dismissed for failure to join Section II as a proper respondent.  NYSPHSAA also maintains, in the alternative, that Section II’s denial of extended eligibility was, in all respects, proper.

A party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of a petitioner is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of G.H.L., 46 Ed Dept Rep 571, Decision No. 15,598; Appeal of Doe, 46 id. 483, Decision No. 15,571; Appeal of Johnson, 46 id. 432, Decision No. 15,555).  Joinder requires that an individual be clearly named as a respondent in the caption and served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition to inform the individual that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense (Appeal of G.H.L., 46 Ed Dept Rep 571, Decision No. 15,598; Appeal of Doe, 46 id. 483, Decision No. 15,571; Appeal of Johnson, 46 id. 432, Decision No. 15,555).

In this appeal petitioner seeks review of a determination of Section II, which is one of 11 geographic subdivisions of NYSPHSAA and a separate, not-for-profit corporation.  NYSPHSAA maintains that it has made no determination regarding A.K.’s extended eligibility for the 2008-2009 school year to participate in interscholastic athletics.  Petitioner submits no reply in contravention of that assertion.  Although petitioner names Section II as the respondent in this appeal, she failed to effect service of the petition upon Section II.  Instead, she served NYSPHSAA.  Because petitioner failed to join Section II, a necessary party to the appeal, and instead served NYSPHSAA, an improper party, the appeal is jurisdictionally defective and must be dismissed.

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

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE