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Decision No. 17,639

Appeal of J.M., on behalf of his son L.M., from action of the Board of Education of the Forestville Central School District regarding student discipline.

Decision No. 17,639

(May 8, 2019)

Harris Beach PLLC, attorneys for respondent, Marnie E. Smith, Esq., of counsel

ELIA, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Forestville Central School District (“respondent”) to impose a suspension from extracurricular activities on his son (the “student” or “L.M.”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

At the time of the events giving rise to this appeal, L.M. was a senior attending respondent’s high school and a member of the varsity golf team during the 2017-2018 school year.

According to the record, in early April 2018, L.M. participated in a Spanish club trip (the “trip”) to Costa Rica.  While on the trip, several students, including L.M., went to a restaurant at a resort where the students were staying.  The record reflects that the restaurant served alcohol.

After the chaperone received reports that some students were drinking alcohol on the trip, the chaperone questioned the students as to whether they had consumed alcohol during the trip.  L.M. admitted that he had taken a sip of beer.

On April 10, 2018, petitioner, L.M. and the student’s mother met with the high school principal to discuss the student’s conduct during the trip.  According to the record, the principal imposed a five-day out-of-school suspension as well as an athletic suspension for the remainder of the spring 2018 golf season based on the student’s admission that he drank a sip of beer.  Petitioner appealed the athletic suspension to respondent.  In a written decision dated April 19, 2018, respondent upheld the athletic suspension.[1]  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on May 7, 2018.

Petitioner contends that respondent was not authorized to impose an athletic suspension for the entire spring season pursuant to the language of the Forestville Athletic Handbook (the “handbook”).  Petitioner further argues that the athletic suspension was excessive, and that respondent did not adequately consider mitigating factors concerning the student’s consumption of alcohol.  Petitioner additionally argues that other student athletes engaged in similar conduct and did not receive any penalty.  For relief, petitioner requests that the student be “immediately reinstated ... to the golf team.”

Respondent contends that the appeal must be dismissed as moot as the student’s suspension for the spring 2018 athletic season has ended.  Respondent further contends that petitioner and the student received all the process they were due when they were afforded an opportunity to meet with the individual authorized to impose discipline prior to imposition of the athletic suspension.  Respondent also argues that it appropriately imposed a suspension for one athletic season based upon the student’s admission that he consumed alcohol and did not leave the location where such alcohol was being consumed because such conduct violated the rules of the trip and the handbook.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  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 Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937).  Here, the student was suspended from athletics for the spring 2018 athletic season.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on May 7, 2018, and the spring 2018 athletics season ended shortly thereafter.  There is no indication in the record that respondent maintains any record of the extracurricular suspension at issue in this appeal (see Appeal of D.K., 58 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,539) and petitioner does not seek expungement of the suspension from the student’s record as relief.  Therefore, no further meaningful relief can be granted and the appeal must be dismissed as moot (Appeal of S.V., 55 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 16,829; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 53 id., Decision No. 16,561; Appeal of H.B., 49 id. 433, Decision No. 16,073, aff’d, Index No. 6819-10, Sup. Ct., Albany Co., [McGrath, J.], Jan. 14, 2011).

Therefore, as there is no further relief that may be granted, the appeal is dismissed as moot.  In light of this disposition, I need not consider the parties’ remaining contentions.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE

 

[1] The record also contains a letter from respondent’s athletic director dated April 23, 2018 indicating that the student would be suspended “for the remainder of the spring 2018 season.”