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Decision No. 14,562

Appeal of JULIE RYDER, on behalf of RACHEL and JOSEPH HANSON, from action of the Board of Education of the Cleveland Hill Union Free School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 14,562

(April 20, 2001)

Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods & Goodyear, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Jeffrey Swiatek, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals a determination by the Board of Education of the Cleveland Hill Union Free School District ("respondent") that her children, Rachel and Joseph Hanson, are not residents of respondent's district. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner acknowledges that she currently lives within the Buffalo City School District, and that her children live with her. However, the children had been attending respondent's schools since January 1999, when petitioner and the children moved to respondent's district from the Syracuse area after petitioner's divorce from the children's father. Petitioner remarried in December 1999, at which time she and the children moved into the Buffalo City School District. On or about October 26, 2000, the district's elementary school secretary received information that petitioner had moved out of the district. Accordingly, by letter dated November 3, 2000, respondent advised petitioner that her children would be excluded from district schools on the basis of non-residency, effective November 27, 2000.

Petitioner states that she and her husband plan to sell their house and move back to respondent’s district as soon as possible -- at the latest, by summer 2001. Petitioner seeks an order permitting her children to remain in respondent's schools because of the psychological consequences of yet another disruption in the children's lives, and the hope that the family will soon move back into respondent's district. Petitioner's request for interim relief was denied on January 11, 2001, but respondent advised that it would permit the students to remain in school until January 26, 2001, the end of the second marking period.

I am sympathetic to petitioner's concerns about the effect of transferring her children to another school after the disruption caused by her divorce and subsequent remarriage. However, 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 the 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 P.L., 40 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,427; Appeal of Lapidus, 40 id. ___, Decision No. 14,408; Appeal of Epps, 39 id. ___, Decision No. 14,377).

Petitioner acknowledges that she and her children do not reside within respondent's district. I am therefore compelled to uphold respondent's determination that petitioner's children are not residents of the district and may not attend respondent's schools (Appeal of Daniels, 37 Ed Dept Rep 557, Decision No. 13,926).