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Decision No. 14,582

Appeal of DAVID BRADSHAW, on behalf of his children CHRISTIAN and LINDSEY BRADSHAW, from action of the Board of Education of the North Colonie Central School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 14,582

(June 11, 2001)

David W. Morris, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the North Colonie Central School District ("respondent") that his children could not continue to attend its school without payment of tuition after they moved from the district. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner began residing within respondent"s district in January 2000, and his two children attended respondent"s Blue Creek Elementary School ("Blue Creek"). In December 2000, petitioner was offered government quarters on federal property at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, New York. By letter dated December 12, 2000, petitioner requested that respondent permit his children to continue attending Blue Creek after his family moved out of the district because his children were comfortable at the school. By letter dated December 19, 2000, respondent"s superintendent advised petitioner that he would be required to pay tuition for his children if they moved out of the district.

When petitioner moved to the Watervliet Arsenal in February 2001, the superintendent advised him that his children were no longer entitled to attend Blue Creek without the payment of tuition. This appeal ensued. Petitioner"s request for interim relief was denied on February 27, 2001.

Petitioner asserts that his children should be permitted to attend respondent"s school because he now resides on federal property which is not within the bounds of any school district. He further contends that respondent"s policy is discriminatory because it only permits nonresident students of high school age who reside at the Watervliet Arsenal to attend its schools without charge. Respondent asserts that the petition is untimely and that children who reside at the Watervliet Arsenal who are of high school age are permitted to attend its high school without the payment of tuition pursuant to a longstanding agreement. Respondent further asserts that a similar agreement exists between the Watervliet Arsenal and the Maplewood Common School District for the education of elementary school age children residing at the Arsenal.

Initially, I will address the procedural issue. Respondent contends that the petition is untimely because petitioner commenced this appeal on February 22, 2001, more than 30 days after the superintendent's December 19, 2000 letter. I note, however, that petitioner and his children did not move out of respondent"s district until the beginning of February 2001 and that by letter dated February 13, 2001, the superintendent informed petitioner that his children would be excluded from respondent"s schools by February 16 unless he paid tuition. Accordingly, I find this appeal timely.

Education Law "3202(1) provides, in pertinent part:

A person over five and under twenty-one years of age who has not received a high school diploma is entitled to attend the public schools maintained in the district in which such person resides without the payment of tuition.

The purpose of this statute is to limit the obligation of school districts to provide tuition-free education to students whose parents or legal guardians reside within the district (Appeal of Lapidus, 40 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,408; Appeal of Epps, 39 id. ___, Decision No. 14,377; Appeal of Rosati, 38 id. 216, Decision No. 14,018).

Petitioner currently resides on federal property which does not fall within the confines of any school district. However, his children are permitted to attend elementary school in the Maplewood Common School District without the payment of tuition because of a longstanding agreement between that district and the Watervliet Arsenal. Since there is no high school in the Maplewood Common School District, a similar agreement exists between the North Colonie Central School District and the Watervliet Arsenal concerning students of high school age. Since petitioner admits that he moved from respondent"s district to the Watervliet Arsenal in February 2000, there is no basis upon which to determine that his elementary school age children are entitled to attend respondent"s schools without the payment of tuition.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE