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Decision No. 13,289

Appeal of KEVIN CAVALIERE and YVETTE CAVALIERE from action of the Board of Education of the Carmel Central School District regarding a school district boundary.

Decision No. 13,289

(November 8, 1994)

Raymond G. Kuntz, P.C., attorney for respondent, Raymond G. Kuntz and Raymond G. Kuntz, III, Esqs., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners challenge the refusal of the Board of Education of the Carmel Central School District ("respondent") to consent to their request to alter the boundary line between the Carmel district and the Mahopac Central School District ("Mahopac"). Petitioners request an order directing respondent to change the boundary line between the districts so that property owned by petitioners and others will be included within the Mahopac district. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners are homeowners who reside in the Carmel district near the boundary line that divides that district from the Mahopac district. By petition dated April 11, 1994, petitioners and 22 other residents living on Ridge Court, Lockwood Lane and Oak Ridge Circle in the Town of Mahopac asked respondent and the Mahopac board to consent to alter the boundary line between the districts. By letter dated June 1, 1994, respondent rejected petitioners' request. The Mahopac district did not respond to petitioners' request. This appeal ensued.

The decision of a board of education to refuse to consent to a proposed boundary line change shall not be set aside, absent proof that the refusal was not in the best educational interests of all the children involved or was arbitrary or capricious (Appeal of Bearup, 32 Ed Dept Rep 570; Appeal of Salerni, 27 id. 393; Matter of Dykeman, 21 id. 241, judgmt grtd dis pet Matter of Dykeman v. Ambach, et al., Albany Co. Sup Ct, 2/4/82, n.o.r.). In deciding whether a district boundary should be changed, the educational interests of the children are paramount (Appeal of Bearup, supra; Matter of Dykeman, supra). The effect on the children seeking the change as well as the effect the change would have on tax revenues and educational programs of the school district from which property would be transferred must also be considered (Appeal of Imbrosciano, et al. , 28 Ed Dept Rep 563; Matter of Citizens for a United Wading River, Inc. and Morrison, 22 id. 425).

Petitioners contend that respondent's refusal to consent to the boundary alteration is arbitrary and capricious and not in the best interests of their children. Specifically, petitioners contend that if the boundary line was changed, their children would be closer to school and the ride to school would be shorter. Petitioners also assert that parents would have increased opportunities to be involved in school events. However, the proximity of the school to home is not a basis for redrawing school district boundary lines (Appeal of Bearup, supra; Matter of Cooper, et al., 15 Ed Dept Rep 293). Moreover, the difference in distance between petitioners' home and respondent's school versus the Mahopac schools (approximately 14 miles) is not sufficient to warrant the substitution of my judgment for that of respondent.

Petitioner also maintains that their children and the children of 22 other families are socially isolated because they are the only residents of the Town of Mahopac who attend respondent's schools. Petitioners argue that the children would be best served by their attendance in Mahopac schools because they would have greater opportunities to form and maintain friendships with children in their town. While it is natural that parents desire that their children attend school with other children in the area, that desire is not a sufficient basis for ordering a school district boundary alteration (Appeal of Bearup, supra; Appeal of Kosnick, 25 Ed Dept Rep 466; Matter of Dykeman, supra). Furthermore, petitioners offer only conclusory statements, and no concrete evidence, that without the boundary change, their children will be isolated from other children attending respondent's district.

Petitioners further contend that changing the boundary would serve their children's educational interest because respondent's schools are allegedly overcrowded. Respondent denies that contention. Although petitioners have failed to present evidence to support their claim, even if proven, such a claim is not a basis for altering school district boundaries.

The record reflects that the proposed boundary change would result in a substantial loss of tax revenue and State aid to respondent. This loss of revenue would inevitably adversely affect students and programs in the Carmel district. Given the negative impact on respondent's programs and the speculative nature of petitioners' claims, the appeal must be dismissed.

I have reviewed petitioners' remaining contentions and find them without merit.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE