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Decision No. 14,399

Appeal of JOHN D’ANGELO, on behalf of JESSICA D’ANGELO, from action of the Board of Education of the Deer Park Union Free School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 14,399

(June 28, 2000)

Cooper, Sapir & Cohen, attorneys for respondent, Robert E. Sapir, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Deer Park Union Free School District ("respondent") denying his daughter permission to attend school in the district tuition free. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner’s daughter, Jessica, began kindergarten at the John Quincy Adams Elementary School ("John Quincy Adams") in respondent’s district at the start of the 1999-2000 school year. Because the family anticipated moving from the district in the middle of the school year, petitioner’s wife contacted the superintendent’s office before the start of school to determine whether Jessica would be permitted to finish kindergarten at John Quincy Adams after moving from the district. According to petitioner, his wife was assured that if the family moved after a "significant" portion of the school year had lapsed, the child would "most likely" be permitted to finish the school year in the district’s schools.

The family moved from the district in "late 1999" but continued to send Jessica to John Quincy Adams. Petitioner’s wife continued to drop Jessica off each morning at Deer Park Tutor Time ("Tutor Time"), a day care facility apparently located within respondent’s district, where Jessica and several other district students were transported by bus to the district’s schools.

By letter dated January 31, 2000, the district’s attendance teacher informed petitioner and his wife that, effective February 18, 2000, Jessica would be excluded from respondent’s schools because she was not a district resident. In response to petitioner’s appeal from this determination, respondent granted Jessica permission to finish the school year at John Quincy Adams contingent upon petitioner's assumption of the responsibility for transporting her to and from school. After receiving notification of this determination, petitioner contacted Assistant Superintendent Mary Jo Beck to request permission for Jessica to continue taking the school bus from the Tutor Time facility. According to petitioner, Ms. Beck advised him that Jessica could continue to use the bus "as long as it was required for other students". Based on this conversation, Jessica continued taking the Tutor Time bus to school.

By letter dated March 22, 2000, respondent withdrew its permission to allow Jessica to attend John Quincy Adams after learning that Jessica was travelling on the school bus. By letter dated March 24, 2000, Jessica’s parents appealed respondent’s determination, but were advised by letter dated March 29, 2000, that Jessica should be enrolled in her current district of residency, and that her last day of school at John Quincy Adams would be April 7, 2000. This appeal ensued. On April 11, 2000, petitioner’s request for interim relief was granted.

Petitioner contends that respondent’s decision to withdraw its permission to allow Jessica to finish the school year at John Quincy Adams was arbitrary and capricious. Petitioner requests that his daughter be permitted to attend John Quincy Adams tuition free for the remainder of the 1999-00 school year. Respondent contends that Jessica is not entitled to attend school in the district because she is not a district resident and that it withdrew its permission for her continued attendance because Jessica’s parents violated the condition requiring them to provide for her ongoing transportation.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot. The Commissioner will only consider 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 Swanson, 39 Ed Dept Rep 312, Decision No. 14,247; Appeal of Foshee, 38 id. 346, Decision No. 14,051). Petitioner’s request for interim relief was granted on April 11, 2000. Because the 1999-00 school year has ended and petitioner has obtained the relief he seeks, the matter is moot (Appeal of Lascala, 38 Ed Dept Rep 16, Decision No. 13,974).