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Decision No. 14,570

Appeal of REBECCA KHALID, on behalf of her daughter, NAZRA, from action of the Board of Education of the Sewanhaka Central High School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 14,570

(May 1, 2001)

Douglas E. Libby, Esq., attorney for respondent, Bernadette Gallagher-Gaffney, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the determination of the Board of Education of the Sewanhaka Central High School District ("respondent") that her daughter, Nazra, is not entitled to attend district schools. The appeal must be dismissed.

Nazra was admitted to respondent"s schools on the basis of an application dated May 21, 1998, in which both of her parents claimed that they lived at 1627 Falmouth Avenue, an address within respondent"s district. In the fall of 2000, when Nazra was a ninth grade student, district officials received information that petitioner and her family no longer lived in the district. By letter dated November 30, 2000, the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Fred Raulli, made a preliminary determination that Nazra was not a district resident. Petitioner appealed this determination on December 12, 2000. On January 16, 2001, respondent"s designee for residency determinations, Ellen Stecklow Marcus, conducted an administrative review of the preliminary residency determination, at which petitioner again claimed to live within respondent"s district. The district presented evidence of ten weekday morning surveillances conducted at the 1627 Falmouth Avenue address from October 23, 2000 to January 16, 2001, during which petitioner"s daughter was never observed exiting the building, yet was on time at school on each of those dates. Based upon those surveillances, and certain admissions made by petitioner, respondent"s administrative review officer made a final determination dated February 7, 2001, that petitioner was not a district resident and, as a result, Nazra would be excluded from the district"s schools effective February 28, 2001 (thereafter extended to March 9, 2001).

This appeal was purportedly commenced February 26, 2001, and sought an interim order allowing Nazra to attend district schools only until the completion of her ninth grade year. Interim relief was denied March 9, 2001.

The appeal must be denied for two reasons. As pointed out by respondent, the purported notice of petition served on it is defective, and does not comply with 8 NYCRR "275.11(a). The "notice" served by petitioner contains only the caption of this appeal, and contains none of the language required by "275.11(a), which advises a potential respondent of the obligation to answer the petition in accordance with the Commissioner"s regulations and of the consequences of failing to answer. A notice of petition which contains none of that required language is fatally defective, and does not secure jurisdiction over the intended respondent. It is the notice of petition that alerts a party to the fact that he or she is required to appear in the appeal, and to answer the objections contained in the petition (8 NYCRR "275.11; Appeal of Heller, 38 Ed Dept Rep 335, Decision No. 14,048; Application of the Board of Education of the Ardsley Union Free School District, 38 id. 221, Decision No. 14,019; Appeal of Chechek, 37 id. 624, Decision No. 13,943).

Aside from the fatally defective notice of petition, the petition itself states that petitioner Rebecca Khalid resides at 2 Cornwall Lane, Apt. B-1V, Carle Place, New York 11514, an address which petitioner concedes to be "not within the School District." The petition further indicates that, at that time petitioner and her daughter had resided in the Carle Place School District for two weeks, and intended to remain there for three to four weeks. There is no claim that either petitioner or her daughter now lives within respondent"s district nor is there any indication that they intend to return to the district. Under these circumstances, there can be no basis for finding that petitioner"s daughter is entitled to attend respondent"s schools. Pursuant to Education Law "3202(1), a school district is only required to provide tuition-free education to students whose parents or legal guardians reside within the district (Appeal of Laquerre, 40 Ed Dept Rep _____, Decision No. 14,558; Appeal of Lapidus, 40 id. _____, Decision No. 14,408; Appeal of Epps, 39 id. _____, Decision No. 14,377).

In view of this disposition, the parties" other claims need not be discussed.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE