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Decision No. 14,407

Appeal of JOHN LEE from action of the Board of Education of the Hudson City School District and John Rigos regarding a coaching appointment.

Decision No. 14,407

(July 20, 2000)

James R. Sandner, Esq., attorney for petitioner

Donohue, Thomas, Auslander & Drohan, attorneys for respondent, Rochelle J. Auslander, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Hudson City School District ("respondent") to appoint respondent John Rigos as the boys varsity baseball coach for the Spring 2000 season. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner is a resident of respondent’s district whose daughter attends respondent's schools. In October 1999, the district posted vacancies for several Spring coaching positions, including varsity and junior varsity baseball coach, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Hudson Teachers’ Association. Although the district did not receive any timely applications for either the varsity or junior varsity baseball coaching positions, after the application deadline had passed, respondent John Rigos and Derek Reardon, a physical education teacher in the district, applied for the varsity position. Mr. Rigos is not a certified teacher but has CPR and first aid training.

At its February 14, 2000 board meeting, respondent appointed John Rigos as varsity baseball coach and Derek Reardon as the junior varsity coach. Although the record reflects that Reardon applied only for the varsity position, it is unclear whether he consented to the junior varsity coaching appointment. Sometime after the February 14, 2000 board meeting, respondent’s superintendent applied to the Commissioner of Education for a temporary coaching license for John Rigos on the grounds that no certified physical education teacher or certified teacher with coaching qualifications and experience was available to coach varsity baseball. At the start of the baseball season, the district’s temporary coaching license application was pending. This appeal ensued. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on March 31, 2000. Respondent apparently received a temporary coaching license in late March, issued to Mr. Rigos under my authority for the period of March 6, 2000 through June 30, 2000.

Petitioner contends that respondent’s appointment of Rigos as the varsity baseball coach violates "135.4(c)(7)(i)(c) of the Commissioner's regulations and Education Law ""3009(1) and 3010 because Rigos is an uncertified teacher and is ineligible for a temporary coaching license since Reardon, a certified physical education teacher, is available to coach varsity baseball. Petitioner requests that I annul respondent’s appointment of Rigos as varsity baseball coach and direct respondent to comply with 8 NYCRR "135.4(c)(7)(i)(c).

Respondent contends that its appointment of Rigos was proper because no certified teacher was available to coach and respondent obtained a temporary coaching license for Rigos. Respondent also raises a number of procedural objections, contending, among other things, that petitioner lacks standing, Reardon is a necessary party to this proceeding and that the appeal should be dismissed because the Hudson Teachers’ Association has filed a contract grievance concerning the Rigos coaching appointment.

I decline to address the parties’ contentions because I find that the appeal is moot. The Commissioner will only consider matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exists or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Swanson, 39 Ed Dept Rep 312, Decision No. 14,247; Appeal of Foshee, 38 id 346, Decision No. 14,051). Petitioner challenges respondent’s varsity baseball coaching appointment for the Spring 2000 team. Because the 1999-2000 school year has ended and the baseball season completed, the matter is now moot.

Although the appeal is dismissed, I remind respondent that I have previously held that an uncertified individual employed by a district may not undertake coaching responsibilities until he or she has actually received a temporary license. The mere application for that license by the district does not qualify the prospective coach for his or her duties (Appeal of Cavanaugh, 37 Ed Dept Rep 216, Decision No. 13,847). Respondent is directed to strictly comply with this requirement when making any future coaching appointments.