Decision No. 17,798
Appeal of E.M., on behalf of his son A.M., from action of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association regarding participation in interscholastic athletics.
Decision No. 17,798
(December 6, 2019)
Getman Law Firm, LLC, attorneys for petitioner, Michael F. Getman, Esq., of counsel
Renee James, Esq., attorney for respondent
TAHOE., Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (“respondent” or “NYSPHSAA”) that his son (“the student”) was not entitled to a waiver of Rule 30 (“the transfer rule”) and, as such, was ineligible to participate in interscholastic football and baseball for the 2018-2019 school year. The appeal must be dismissed.
Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, the student resided with petitioner in the Oneonta City School District, where he attended the district’s high school and played both football and baseball. The student then transferred to the Little Falls City School District (“Little Falls”) at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Petitioner asserts that the student moved in with his ailing grandfather in order to provide him daily living assistance.
Respondent NYSPHSAA is a voluntary association of public and non-public secondary schools that serves as a governing body for interscholastic athletics. Accordingly, in addition to the provisions of section 135.4 of the Commissioner’s regulations governing interscholastic athletic competition, NYSPHSAA’s member schools are subject to NYSPHSAA’s Bylaws and Eligibility Standards. Included therein is the transfer rule, which provides that a student who transfers schools without a corresponding change in the residence of his or her parents is ineligible to participate in any interscholastic contest in a particular sport for one year, if that student participated in that sport as a high school student in the year immediately preceding the transfer (see NYSPHSAA Bylaws and Eligibility Standards Rule 30). The school to which a student transferred may petition NYSPHSAA for a waiver of the transfer rule, and NYSPHSAA may grant such a waiver if it can be shown that the student’s transfer was the result of financial hardship or related to matters of health and safety.
Here, the record indicates that, in August 2018, Little Falls sought a waiver of the transfer rule to permit the student’s participation in interscholastic football and baseball during the 2018-2019 school year. The waiver application asserted that the student had transferred to Little Falls due to a hardship related to health and safety.
On September 5, 2018, the transfer committee for Section III – the specific NYSPHAA section of which Little Falls is a member – denied the waiver application on the ground of insufficient evidence. After Little Falls received the determination, petitioner submitted additional information to Section III in support of the application. The transfer committee again voted to deny the waiver. Little Falls appealed this determination to the Section III appeal panel, which – after a hearing – upheld the transfer committee’s determination in a decision dated September 19, 2018. Little Falls then appealed to NYSPHSAA. In a decision dated October 10, 2018, NYSPHSAA unanimously upheld Section III’s determination to deny the waiver. This appeal ensued.
Petitioner contends that the student is eligible for a waiver of the transfer rule based upon a health and safety hardship because he moved to Little Falls to care for his ailing grandfather. As relief, petitioner seeks a determination that the student is eligible to play interscholastic football and baseball for Little Falls during the 2018-2019 school year.
NYSPHSAA contends that petitioner fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. NYSPHSAA further asserts that the appeal should be dismissed for failure to join Little Falls and Section III as necessary parties. Finally, NYSPHSAA asserts that so much of the petition as seeks a determination that the student is eligible to play football is moot, while so much of the petition as seeks a determination that the student is eligible to play baseball will be moot if the Commissioner renders a decision on this appeal after the conclusion of the 2018-2019 baseball season.
The appeal must be dismissed for failure to join Little Falls as a necessary party. A party whose rights would be adversely affected by a determination of an appeal in favor of a petitioner is a necessary party and must be joined as such (Appeal of Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of Murray, 48 id. 517, Decision No. 15,934). Joinder requires that an individual be clearly named as a respondent in the caption and served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition to inform the individual that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense (Appeal of Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of Murray, 48 id. 517, Decision No. 15,934).
The sole relief petitioner seeks on this appeal is a waiver of the transfer rule to permit the student to participate on Little Falls’ interscholastic football and baseball teams during the 2018-2019 school year. Such relief, if granted, would necessarily affect Little Falls insofar as it would require Little Falls – which did not appeal to the Commissioner from the denial of its waiver application – to permit the student to participate on its athletic teams. Therefore, Little Falls is a necessary party, and petitioner’s failure to join it as a respondent requires dismissal of the appeal (see Appeal of Stachelek, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,363; Appeal of Donnellan, 57 id., Decision No. 17,362).
The appeal must also 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 Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937). Here, petitioner seeks a waiver of the transfer rule to permit the student to participate in interscholastic football and baseball during the 2018-2019 school year. Petitioner did not seek interim relief in this matter, and the 2018-2019 school year has concluded. Accordingly, this matter is moot (see Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 58 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,428).
In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.
THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.
END OF FILE
 Although petitioner requests a determination that the student is eligible for a waiver permitting him to participate in both football and baseball, he elsewhere in the petition acknowledges that the football season “finished during this process.”