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Decision No. 14,379

Appeal of B. N., on behalf of D. N., from action of the Board of Education of the Beekmantown Central School District regarding an athletic suspension.

Decision No. 14,379

(May 26, 2000)

Joseph Lavorando, Esq., counsel for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Beekmantown Central School District ("respondent") affirming the athletic suspension imposed on her son, D. N. The appeal must be dismissed.

In November 1998, D. N. was suspended for two weeks from respondent’s high school wrestling team for violating the Interscholastic Athletic Rules/Code of Conduct ("code"). Student athletes, including D. N., sign a contract agreeing to abide by the code to participate in respondent’s interscholastic athletic program. In September 1999, D. N., while a member of the high school football team, again violated the code. He was removed from the football team and was also barred from participating in wrestling for the rest of the 1999-2000 school year. Petitioner appealed this determination to respondent’s athletic review board, respondent's superintendent and respondent. At each level the suspension was affirmed. This appeal ensued and petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on February 15, 2000.

Petitioner contends that respondent improperly applied its code by considering D. N.'s November 1998 violation as a "first offense" for the purpose of imposing discipline for his misconduct in September 1999, the following school year. She argues that the code only applies to offenses that occur in a given school year, measured from August to June, and that students start each August with a "clean slate". She asks that the suspension from wrestling be reversed.

Respondent contends that the petition is improper and was served in violation of Commissioner’s regulations because D. N.’s father served it on respondent. Respondent alleges that the appeal is untimely, that its decision to suspend D. N. from football and wrestling was reasonable, and that its decision was consistent with its code. Respondent further contends that D. N. violated the code on numerous other occasions.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot. The Commissioner of Education will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision upon facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Razzano, 39 Ed Dept Rep 303, Decision No. 14,244; Appeal of Davis, 38 id. 805, Decision No. 14,148). In this case, the only relief requested was D. N.’s reinstatement to the wrestling team, which I denied at the time petitioner requested interim relief. In view of the fact that the wrestling season has ended, and I have already ruled on the relief sought, the appeal is moot.

Finally, I note that respondent’s athletic policy, as currently written, is somewhat ambiguous. To avoid future confusion, I suggest that respondent review and revise its policy to ensure that student athletes and their parents can clearly understand how timeframes and penalties are intended to be calculated and applied.

In light of this disposition, I need not address respondent’s remaining contentions.