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Decision No. 12,948

Appeal of ANTHONY and MARGOT ELACQUA, et al. from action of Dr. Joseph Iraci, Acting District Superintendent of the Sole Supervisory District of Saratoga-Warren Counties, relating to the determination of a boundary between the Shenendehowa Central School District and the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District.

Decision No. 12,948

(June 9, 1993)

Victor M. DeBonis, Esq., attorney for respondent Board of Education of the Shenendehowa Central School District

Glavin & Glavin, Esqs., attorneys for respondent Board of Education of the Waterford- Halfmoon Union Free School District, James H. Glavin, III, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners are property owners in a residential area which was affected by a boundary line determination made by Dr. Byron Evans, former District Superintendent of the Sole Supervisory District of Saratoga-Warren Counties, on or about September 8, 1989. Petitioners allege that Dr. Joseph Iraci, currently serving as Acting District Superintendent for the Saratoga-Warren BOCES, subsequently changed the boundary line as established by Dr. Evans between the Shenendehowa and Waterford-Halfmoon school districts. Petitioners request that I annul Dr. Iraci's decision and confirm the boundary determination issued by Dr. Evans in 1989. The appeal must be sustained.

The facts of the 1989 boundary determination are more fully described in my decision Matter of the Board of Education of the Shenendehowa Central School District, 29 Ed Dept Rep 355. Therefore, for purposes of this appeal, a brief recitation of the facts will suffice. In January 1989, the Superintendent of Schools of the Waterford-Halfmoon district wrote to Dr. Evans, requesting that he determine the proper boundary location between the Waterford-Halfmoon and Shenendehowa school districts. On September 8, 1989, District Superintendent Evans issued a determination establishing the boundary line. The effect of that determination was to locate some parcels of property whose school district affiliation was unclear within Waterford-Halfmoon and some others within Shenendehowa. A number of parcels were determined by Dr. Evans to be intersected by the boundary line between the two school districts. Several property owners allegedly aggrieved by this decision, together with the Board of Education of Shenendehowa, commenced a '310 appeal, seeking to review Dr. Evans' determination. In decision No. 12,318, issued April 13, 1990, I confirmed Dr. Evans' determination (29 Ed Dept Rep 355). My decision was appealed to Supreme Court, Albany County. The decision of the Supreme Court affirming my decision was appealed to and upheld by, the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department (Matter of Board of Education of the Shenendehowa Central School District v. Sobol, 182 AD2d 944, Appellate Division, Third Department, April 9, 1992).

On or prior to February 23, 1993, Dr. Iraci, acting on his understanding that Dr. Evans' decision was non-final, issued a new boundary determination, effective March 1, 1993. Residents whose property was affected by Dr. Iraci's determination were notified of the decision by letter dated on or about March 17, 1993. In the letter, Dr. Iraci stated that he consulted with both school districts regarding the original intention of Dr. Evans and has issued ". . . a boundary determination to clear up the remaining confusion."

The record before me is, to say the least, limited. Neither Waterford-Halfmoon nor Shenendehowa have provided an answer to the petition. The only answer contained in the record is that supplied by Dr. Iraci. Based upon Dr. Iraci's answer, it appears that having read the record from Dr. Evans' original determination, he was convinced that Dr. Evans' determination was "non-final" and that Dr. Evans' decision itself called for further clarification of the boundary line. Dr. Iraci thus proceeded to "clarify" the boundary determination.

Petitioners contend that rather than issue a determination clarifying the boundary line, Dr. Iraci has instead changed the boundary originally established by Dr. Evans. Having reviewed the record, I must agree with petitioners. The original determination issued by District Superintendent Evans was not a "non-final" determination, nor did it, by its terms, seek further clarification. The language relied upon by the acting district superintendent was merely a suggestion by Dr. Evans that if any of the parties whose properties were affected by his boundary line determination was dissatisfied with the location of that boundary line, they could seek a change in the boundary line by application to the Commissioner of Education. While a district superintendent is clearly authorized to issue a determination to clarify an indefinite boundary line (Education Law '2215(1)), he has no authority under the law to change that boundary (Matter of Union Free School District No. 25 of the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, 7 Ed Dept Rep 51; Matter of Board of Education Byram Hills C. S. D., 22 id. 317). Since I have concluded that the original boundary line determination issued by Dr. Evans was, at least with respect to the properties at issue in this appeal, final and definite, I must conclude that Dr. Iraci's decision to alter that boundary line was without legal authority.

THE APPEAL IS SUSTAINED.

IT IS ORDERED that the determination issued by District Superintendent Joseph Iraci on February 23, 1993, relating to the boundary line between the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District and the Shenendehowa Central School District, is hereby annulled.

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