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Decision No. 16,437

Appeal of TIMOTHY BARNES and SHANE MAHER from action of the Board of Education of the St. Johnsville Central School District, Stephanie Cleveland and Kayla Brown regarding coaching appointments.

Decision No. 16,437

(December 10, 2012)

Richard E. Casagrande, Esq., New York State United Teachers, attorney for petitioners, Paul D. Clayton, Esq. of counsel

Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Board of Education of the St. Johnsville Central School District, Jeffrey D. Honeywell, Esq., of counsel

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioners, Timothy Barnes (“petitioner Barnes”) and Shane Maher (“petitioner Maher”) challenge the decision of the Board of Education of the St. Johnsville Central School District (“respondent”) appointing Stephanie Cleveland ("Cleveland") and Kayla Brown (“Brown”) as the coaches of its girls varsity and girls junior varsity basketball teams (“the teams”), respectively, for the 2010-2011 season. The appeal must be dismissed.

In spring 2010, respondent advertised coaching vacancies for the teams for the 2010-2011 winter season.   Both Cleveland and Brown, who were non-teachers, applied for the positions by submitting a letter of interest to respondent’s superintendent.  Petitioner Barnes, a certified physical education teacher, sent an email to the superintendent expressing his interest in the positions.  Petitioner Maher, a certified teacher, also submitted an email expressing his interest to the superintendent.  At this time, respondent had been discussing merging several of its athletic programs with the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District (“Oppenheim-Ephratah”).  Petitioners had applied for coaching positions with Oppenheim-Ephratah’s modified boys basketball team. 

Thereafter, respondent and Oppenheim-Ephratah determined that they did not need to merge their modified boys basketball teams given that there was substantial participation of students.  Oppenheim-Ephratah informed respondent that it intended to appoint petitioners to basketball coaching positions for the 2010-2011 winter season. 

Following these discussions, on October 7, 2010, respondent appointed Cleveland as the girls varsity basketball coach and Brown as the girls junior varsity basketball coach for the 2010-2011 basketball season.  Petitioners were appointed to the modified boys coaching positions with Oppenheim-Ephratah for the 2010-2011 basketball season.  On or about March 8, 2011, the basketball season ended.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on March 24, 2011.

Petitioners claim that respondent’s appointment of Cleveland and Brown violated Education Law §§3009 and 3010 and 8 NYCRR §135.4(c)(7)(i) because they are not certified teachers and are ineligible for temporary coaching licenses since petitioners – both certified teachers – are available to coach the teams.  Petitioners argue that they applied for the coaching positions in respondent’s district and that, despite the fact that they accepted coaching positions with Oppenheim-Ephratah, they were still available for the coaching appointments in respondent’s district.  Petitioners seek an order annulling Cleveland and Brown’s temporary coaching licenses and appointments; an order directing respondent to comply with the requirements prescribed in Education Law and the Commissioner’s regulations; and an order sanctioning respondent for its actions.

Respondent contends that the appeal must be dismissed as moot and untimely.  Respondent also contends that petitioners did not formally apply for the positions, but rather merely expressed interest via email to the superintendent; that Oppenheim-Ephratah advised respondent that petitioners had applied for and were being appointed to coaching positions with its district for the 2010-2011 winter season and, therefore, petitioners were unavailable for respondent’s positions; and that given petitioners’ unavailability, the appointments of Cleveland and Brown to the positions were proper and in accordance with law and regulations.

The appeal must be dismissed for failure to join Brown as a necessary party.  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 Murray, 48 Ed Dept Rep 517, Decision No. 15,934; Appeal of Miller, 48 id. 465, Decision No. 15,917; Appeal of Williams, 48 id. 343, Decision No. 15,879).  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 Murray, 48 Ed Dept Rep 517, Decision No. 15,934; Appeal of Miller, 48 id. 465, Decision No. 15,917; Appeal of Williams, 48 id. 343, Decision No. 15,879).  Petitioners challenge Brown’s coaching appointment and name her in the caption of the petition.  However, petitioners have failed to submit an affidavit of service of the notice of petition and petition on Brown.  Given that her rights would be adversely affected by a determination in petitioners’ favor, Brown is a necessary party, and the appeal must be dismissed for failure to join her in this appeal.

Additionally, 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).  The record indicates that the 2010-2011 basketball season ended prior to the commencement of this appeal and that Cleveland and Brown have completed their coaching appointments.  Accordingly, to the extent that this appeal seeks the appointment of petitioners as the coaches for the 2010-2011 basketball season, the appeal is also moot. 

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

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE.