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Decision No. 16,026

Appeal of B.J.F., on behalf of her son J.F., from action of the Board of Education of the Tupper Lake Central School District regarding an athletic suspension.

Decision No. 16,026

(February 6, 2010)

Towne, Bartkowski & DeFio Kean, P.C., attorneys for petitioner, Lucia Romeo, Esq., of counsel

Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane & Trombley, PLLC, attorneys for respondent, Jacqueline M. Kelleher, Esq. of counsel

STEINER, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Tupper Lake Central School District (“respondent”) to suspend her son, J.F., from interscholastic athletics for three months.  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2008-2009 school year, J.F. was a 15-year-old 10th grade student attending Tupper Lake Middle/High School, where he was a member of the track and football teams.  By letter dated May 13, 2009, the principal informed petitioner that J.F. was suspended from interscholastic athletics for three school months for his second violation of respondent’s athletic code because of his attendance at a party where alcohol was consumed.  On May 14, 2009, petitioner and J.F. met with the athletic director and afterward petitioner met with the principal and superintendent.  Petitioner’s appeal of the suspension was denied by respondent on June 4, 2009.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on July 13, 2009.

Petitioner contends that respondent’s decision to uphold the suspension was arbitrary and capricious.  Petitioner asserts that the suspension was imposed prior to meeting with petitioner on May 14, 2009, contrary to the procedure in respondent’s Athletic Handbook.  Petitioner also contends that the meeting on May 14, 2009 should not have been held while J.F. was attending class because the Athletic Handbook required his presence.

Respondent denies petitioner’s allegations that it failed to follow procedures in the Athletic Handbook.  Respondent contends that it enforces its Athletic Handbook fairly and evenly and did so in J.F.’s case. 

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 Tine, 46 Ed Dept Rep 579, Decision No. 15,600; Appeal of N.C., 46 id. 358, Decision No. 15,532; Appeal of Lombardo, 46 id. 282, Decision No. 15,508).  Because J.F. has served the suspension that ended on October 17, 2009 and petitioner did not request expungement of his record, the appeal is moot (Appeal of D.M. and M.K., 49 Ed Dept Rep __, Decision No. 15,965; Appeal of R.S., 48 id. 215, Decision No. 15,841).

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