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Decision No. 15,876

Appeal of DAVID and CYNTHIA CLARK, on behalf of their daughters ASHLEY and ALECIA, from action of the Board of Education of the Sidney Central School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 15,876

(February 19, 2009)

Osburn Law Offices, attorneys for petitioners, Judith E. Osburn, Esq., of counsel

Ferrara, Fiorenza, Larrison, Barrett & Reitz, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Marc H. Reitz and Norman H. Gross, Esqs., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the determination of the Board of Education of the Sidney Central School District (“respondent”) that their daughters, Ashley and Alecia, were not district residents during the 2007-2008 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners own a home in Harpursville, outside respondent’s district, which they had been renovating in preparation for sale.  In the summer of 2007, petitioners rented a house in Sidney, within respondent’s district.  In September 2007, Ashley and Alecia began attending respondent’s high school as a senior and a junior, respectively.

In September 2007, respondent’s superintendent learned that petitioners continued to claim a school tax relief (“STAR”) exemption on their Harpursville residence and sent a letter to petitioners questioning their residency.  However, by letter dated November 7, 2007, the superintendent informed petitioners that she had received a “Notice of Exemption Removal” verifying that petitioners no longer claimed a STAR exemption on their Harpursville residence.  The superintendent stated that this information “confirmed” that petitioners’ primary residence was within respondent’s district.

Thereafter, respondent commenced an investigation into petitioners’ residency, which included surveillance conducted in April and May 2008.  Based on its investigation, respondent notified petitioners on June 19, 2008 of its determination that they were not district residents.  By invoice dated June 20, 2008, respondent’s business official requested tuition in the amount of $5,000.00 for the 2007-2008 school year.  This appeal ensued. 

Petitioners seek a determination that Ashley and Alecia were district residents for the entire 2007-2008 school year and were entitled to attend school in the district without the payment of tuition.  Respondent contends, interalia, that its residency determination was not arbitrary or capricious.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Tine, 46 Ed Dept Rep 579, Decision No. 15,600; Appeal of N.C., 46 id. 358, Decision No. 15,532; Appeal of Lombardo, 46 id. 282, Decision No. 15,508).  The 2007-2008 school year has concluded and the record indicates that Ashley graduated from respondent’s high school in June 2008. Moreover, petitioners make no claim that Alecia is entitled to attend respondent’s high school tuition free during the 2008-2009 school year.  Accordingly, petitioners’ residency is no longer at issue and the only remaining question concerns tuition for the 2007-2008 school year, during which respondent alleges that petitioners resided outside the district.

The Commissioner has historically declined to award tuition in residency appeals (Appeal of C.S., 47 Ed Dept Rep 407, Decision No. 15,737; Appeal of Bennett, 45 id. 110, Decision No. 15,274; Appeal of Crowley, 43 id. 383, Decision No. 15,025).  Such relief should be sought in a court of competent jurisdiction (Appeal of C.S., 47 Ed Dept Rep 407, Decision No. 15,737; Appeal of Bennett, 45 id. 110, Decision No. 15,274; Appeal of Crowley, 43 id. 383, Decision No. 15,025).

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE