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Decision No. 13,972

Appeal of VICTORIA DePAULIS from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Rye regarding residency.

Decision No. 13,972

(July 15, 1998)

Plunkett & Jaffe, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Phyllis S. Jaffe, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the determination of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Rye ("respondent") that she is not a resident of the district, and is not entitled to attend the schools of the district tuition free. The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 1996-97 school year, a question arose regarding the legal residence of Victoria DePaulis, but was not fully resolved. On September 2, 1997, Ms. DePaulis attempted to register as a high school student, and claimed that she had become emancipated over the previous summer. She presented some evidence that she was then living at 395 Midland Avenue within respondent's district. On September 4, she returned to the school with additional documentation and was permitted to attend school beginning September 10.

Immediately upon her admission as a student, respondent began conducting a surveillance to determine whether she lived within the district at 395 Midland Avenue, or with her mother at 107 Halstead Avenue, Harrison, outside the district. Based upon the investigation, respondent's Assistant Superintendent advised petitioner by letter dated October 1, 1997, that she was not a district resident and would be excluded from school after October 10, 1997. This appeal was commenced on October 8, 1997.

On March 10, 1998, my Office of Counsel wrote to both petitioner and respondent's attorney stating that it appeared that the matter may have been resolved and had become moot. Respondent's attorney replied in a letter dated March 25, 1998: "At this time Victoria Depaulis has been determined to be a resident of the Rye City School District and is attending its High School."

The appeal must be dismissed as moot. The Commissioner of Education only decides matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exists or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of McConnon, Decision No. 13,959, dated June 15, 1998, 37 Ed Dept Rep ___; Appeal of Oyibo, 37 id. 356; Appeal of Alexander, 36 id. 160). It is obvious that respondent has changed its determination as to petitioner's status, and that it now considers her a district resident.