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Decision No. 14,372

Appeal of C.B., on behalf of J.G., from action of the Board of Education of the Baldwin Union Free School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 14,372

(May 25, 2000)

Ingerman Smith, L.L.P., attorneys for respondent, Neil Block, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Baldwin Union Free School District ("respondent") that her daughter, J.G., is not entitled to attend the district's schools. The appeal must be dismissed.

It is undisputed that petitioner and her daughter reside at 10 Moore Avenue, Freeport. Moore Avenue is divided between respondent’s district and the Roosevelt Union Free School District ("Roosevelt"). In September 1999, J.G. enrolled as a tenth grade student at Baldwin High School in respondent’s district. Approximately one week after school began, respondent realized that 10 Moore Avenue was not within the district boundaries, but rather was within the Roosevelt district. By letter dated September 23, 1999 respondent’s Director of Pupil Services informed petitioner that J.G. was not a district resident and would be excluded from school effective October 5, 1999. This appeal ensued. On October 21, 1999, I denied petitioner’s request for interim relief.

Petitioner asserts that respondent’s registrar accepted her documentation of residency and, therefore, her daughter should not suffer the consequences of respondent’s mistake. Additionally, she contends that her daughter has a psychological disorder which necessitates care by a doctor. Since the doctor’s office is near Baldwin High School, petitioner and the doctor maintain that it is in J.G.’s best interest to continue enrollment in respondent’s district. Petitioner requests that her daughter be allowed to remain at Baldwin High School until the end of the 1999-2000 school year. Respondent contends that it properly excluded J.G. from its schools since she is not a district resident.

The appeal must be dismissed. 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 Degorge, 39 Ed Dept Rep ____, Decision No. 14,321; Appeal of Brown, 38 id. 159, Decision No. 14,007; Appeal of Kehoe, 37 id. 14, Decision No. 13,792). A mistake by a school district in allowing a nonresident student to attend its schools tuition-free does not vest any legal right in the student to continue attendance on a tuition-free basis (Appeal of Lascala, 38 Ed Dept Rep 16, Decision No. 13,974; Appeal of Marston, 34 id. 105, Decision No. 13,247).

Respondent submits a 1998-99 tax receipt, a Nassau County Land and Tax map, and a letter from the Nassau County Department of Assessment that conclusively show that 10 Moore Avenue is located within the Roosevelt district. Because this evidence clearly supports respondent’s determination that petitioner does not reside in its district, I am compelled to uphold its decision to exclude petitioner’s daughter from its schools.

While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s assertion that her daughter has a psychological disorder, this fact has no bearing on the issue of petitioner’s legal residence. The fact that petitioner’s child may have some difficulty in adjusting to a new school, although regrettable, is not a sufficient basis to overturn respondent’s legal and rational determination (Appeal of Marston, supra).