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Decision No. 17,289

Appeal of TIMOTHY D. GALLAGHER, on behalf of his son WILLIAM, from action of the Board of Education of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District regarding participation as a member of the Mamaroneck High School Sailing Team.

Decision No. 17,289

(December 20, 2017)

Ingerman Smith, LLP., attorneys for respondent, Alessandro Bianchi, Esq., of counsel

ELIA, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the actions of the Board of Education of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District (“respondent”) regarding the participation of his son, William (“the student”), as a member of respondent’s sailing team.  The appeal must be dismissed.

At the time of the facts giving rise to this appeal, petitioner and the student resided within respondent’s district and the student attended a nonpublic high school outside the geographical boundaries of respondent’s district.

The record indicates that respondent provides a variety of opportunities for students to participate in interscholastic athletics, extracurricular clubs, and student-led groups.  The record further indicates that Mamaroneck High School provides students with the opportunity to participate on the Mamaroneck High School Sailing Team (“MHS sailing team”) which practices at the Larchmont Yacht Club.   The MHS sailing team is a member of the Interscholastic Sailing Association (“ISSA”) which coordinates interscholastic competition for member schools.  According to the record, ISSA requires competitors to be full-time students registered in, and subject to, the academic and disciplinary requirements of the school they represent in competition.

The record indicates that in the spring of 2013, despite his enrollment at a nonpublic school, the student participated as a member of the MHS sailing team.  By letter dated March 5, 2014, respondent’s superintendent informed petitioner that, because the student attended a nonpublic school and was not a student in respondent’s district, he was ineligible to participate as a member of the MHS sailing team.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on April 14, 2014.

Petitioner asserts that because he is a resident of respondent’s district, respondent must permit the student to participate in student-led groups and clubs despite his enrollment in a nonpublic school.  Petitioner argues that the MHS sailing team is not an interscholastic athletic team, and thus not subject to the provisions of Commissioner’s regulation §135.4, which prohibits nonpublic school students from participating on interscholastic athletic teams.  Petitioner asserts that because the MHS sailing team is a student-led extracurricular group and not an interscholastic athletic team, resident students who attend nonpublic schools must be permitted to participate.  For relief, petitioner seeks a determination that the student is entitled to participate on the MHS sailing team.

Respondent contends that petitioner has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.  Respondent argues that petitioner fails to cite any legal support for the proposition that respondent must permit district residents who attend nonpublic schools to participate in interscholastic clubs or co-curricular activities.  Respondent further contends that it has broad authority to limit participation in extracurricular activities to students enrolled in respondent’s district.  Respondent affirmatively asserts that the appeal must be dismissed for failure to join a necessary party, failure to exhaust administrative remedies and for lack of standing.

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).  

In this appeal, the sole relief sought by petitioner is an order permitting the student to participate on the MHS sailing team.  In the petition, petitioner asserts that, due to the student’s age, the matter would become moot as of “Spring [of] 2016.”  Therefore, by petitioner’s own admission, this matter became moot as of spring 2016, and the issue of the student’s eligibility to participate as a member of respondent’s sailing team is academic.[1]

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




[1] Pursuant to Commissioner’s regulation §276.5, I directed petitioner to submit an affidavit or affirmation stating whether or not the student has since graduated from high school or received a high school diploma, and the date of any such graduation or receipt of a high school diploma.  Petitioner, who according to the record is an attorney licensed in New York State, failed to respond to such directive.