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Decision No. 16,999

Appeal of P.D. and C.C., on behalf of O.D., from action of the Board of Education of the Starpoint Central School District regarding participation in interscholastic athletics.

Decision No. 16,999

(November 16, 2016)

Hogan Willig, attorneys for petitioners, Cecile M. Meyer, Esq., of counsel

Sargent & Collins, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Richard G. Collins, Esq., of counsel

ELIA, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the determination of the Board of Education of the Starpoint Central School District (“respondent”) that their son, O.D., is ineligible for interscholastic competition in soccer during the 2015-2016 school year. The appeal must be dismissed.

The record indicates that petitioners adopted O.D. from Colombia in November 2010 when he was 14 years old.  At that time, petitioners decided to place O.D. in seventh grade because he “had only been in school [in Colombia] a total of six years, did not speak English, and looked much younger than his age....”

During the 2015-2016 school year, O.D. was a high school senior who had participated in interscholastic soccer since eighth grade.  O.D. was born on June 6, 1996 and became 19 years old on June 6, 2015.  On or about July 23, 2015, petitioner C.D. submitted an “Athletic Complaint Form” to the district’s athletic director on which she stated that, in August 2014, O.D.’s soccer coach told him that he would not be able to continue to play soccer during his senior year.  C.D. requested a reason for this decision and asked that she be provided with a determination “soon since practice starts soon.”  On or about July 24, 2015, the athletic director responded that O.D. had “aged out” and referred C.D. to the Executive Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, who, according to petitioners, noted Commissioner’s regulations pertaining to age limits on participation in interscholastic athletics and advised C.D. that she could file an appeal.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on September 11, 2015.

Petitioners explain that O.D. turned 19 before his senior year because, based on his background, they decided to place him in seventh grade when he came to the United States at age 14.  Petitioners contend that Commissioner’s regulation §135.4(c)(7)(ii)(b)(1), which relates to age limits for athletic eligibility, should not apply in this case because O.D. is average in size, inexperienced in soccer and his participation would not present an unfair advantage because his 19th birthday was just 25 days prior to the July 1 cutoff date.

Respondent contends that, pursuant to Commissioner’s regulation §135.4(c)(7)(ii)(b)(1), O.D. was not eligible to participate in soccer during the 2015-2016 school year because he turned 19 years old in June 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).  Petitioners’ request for relief concerns eligibility to participate in interscholastic athletics during the fall of the 2015-2016 school year.  As noted, petitioners’ request for interim relief was denied on September 11, 2015.  The record indicates that the 2015-2016 soccer season concluded in November 2015. Therefore, the matter is moot and the appeal must be dismissed (see e.g., Appeal of Cham, 55 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 16,873). 

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