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Decision No. 16,873

Appeal of SURAHATA CHAM from action of the New York City Department of Education regarding participation in interscholastic athletics.

Decision No. 16,873

(February 9, 2016)

Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, attorney for respondent, Lauren Almquist Lively, Esq., of counsel

ELIA, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from a determination of the New York City Department of Education (“respondent” or “DOE”) that he is not eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics and play football on his high school football team during the 2015-2016 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner is a twelfth grade student in respondent’s district and has participated in interscholastic athletics since the 2013-2014 school year.  Petitioner was born on January 19, 1996 and became 19 years old on January 19, 2015.  The record indicates that, at the end of the 2014 football season, petitioner was informed by the DOE’s Public Schools Athletic League (“PSAL”) that he would be ineligible to participate in interscholastic athletics during the 2015-2016 school year because of his age.

On or about June 1, 2015, petitioner, his coach, and the school principal submitted a “Request for an Eligibility Review” to PSAL’s Student-Athlete Eligibility Committee (“the Committee”).  The Committee apparently determined that petitioner was not eligible to play on his high school football team during the 2015 season due to his age.  Petitioner appealed the Committee’s decision regarding his eligibility to PSAL’s Board of Review/Student Athlete Eligibility Committee (“Board”).  By letter dated July 20, 2015, the Board affirmed the decision of the Committee, declaring that petitioner was ineligible to play due to his age.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on September 11, 2015.

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 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).  Petitioner's request for relief concerns eligibility to participate in interscholastic athletics during the fall of the 2015-2016 school year.  As noted, petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on September 11, 2015 and the 2015 fall football season has ended.  Consequently, the matter is moot.

Even if the appeal were not dismissed on procedural grounds, it would be dismissed on the merits.  Section 135.4(c)(7)(ii)(b)(1) of the Commissioner's regulations provides in relevant part, “A pupil shall be eligible for interschool competition in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 until the last day of the school year in which he or she attains the age of 19....”[1]  Petitioner admits that he attained the age of 19 before July 1, 2015.  Therefore, respondent correctly determined that petitioner is not eligible to compete in interscholastic sports during the 2015-2016 school year.  While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s situation and I understand his desire to continue athletic participation, the regulation in question contains no provision applicable herein for waiver of the maximum age limitation.  Petitioner has not established any basis to overturn respondent’s determination.

I have considered the parties' remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.




[1] The regulation sets forth certain exceptions not relevant to this appeal.