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Competitive spirit sidelined by the rules

   Jordan Maliken and his supporters lost one at the wire Tuesday.

      State Education Commissioner Richard Mills decided he had to let a decision stand:
Maliken, 20, who is diagnosed with mental retardation, cannot race with the track team during
the final two weeks of his last year at Amherst High School.

   Although state law allows students with disabilities to go to school until age 21, rules
say athletes cannot compete for a fifth year, or after age 19.

   Still, his parents and school staff thought there was a chance that an exception could be
made for Maliken, now finishing his fifth year of high school.

   So people went to hearings, made phone calls and tried to navigate confusing layers of

   Twice, in March and April, the local division of the New York State Public High School
Athletic Association, affirmed that the rules did not allow for exceptions for students with

   On Tuesday Mills let the association decision stand.

   "There is no authority, in this case, for the commissioner to waive the requirements," said
Jonathan Burman, a Mills  spokesman.

   What do you think?

-- Michelle Kearns


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