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Decision No. 15,196

Appeal of DONNA M. BATES, on behalf of her daughter BARBARA J. REID, from action of the Board of Education of the Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 15,196

(March 29, 2005)

Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, Surowka, & DeWind, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Wendy K. DeWind, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District ("respondent") that her daughter, Barbara, is not entitled to attend respondent's schools for the 2004-2005 school year. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides at an address on State Highway No. 7 in Bainbridge. The parties agree that petitioner's property intersects the boundary line between respondent's district and the Afton Central School District ("Afton"). During the 2003-2004 school year, petitioner elected to send Barbara to Afton.

On August 27, 2004, petitioner requested that respondent admit Barbara to respondent's schools for eighth grade. According to petitioner, respondent denied her request on September 1, 2004. By letter dated September 13, 2004, the superintendent advised petitioner that her request was denied because she had failed to notify both districts in writing prior to August 1 that she desired a change in enrollment. This appeal ensued. Petitioner's request for interim relief was denied on September 28, 2004.

Petitioner asserts that she pays taxes in both school districts and seeks a determination that her daughter is entitled to attend school in respondent's district without the payment of tuition. Petitioner also asserts that she contacted the superintendent in July about enrolling Barbara, and he did not inform her of the need to make a written request prior to August 1. She states that had she been so informed, she would have done so. Petitioner also states that she orally informed personnel at Afton that she was withdrawing Barbara, and they also did not inform her that she needed to give notice in writing prior to August 1.

Respondent denies that Barbara is entitled to attend school in the district for the 2004-2005 school year. Respondent asserts that its district clerk never received a notice of designation from petitioner on or before August 1. Respondent also avers that the superintendent first spoke with petitioner regarding Barbara's enrollment in respondent's district at the end of August 2004 when petitioner attempted to enroll her.

The appeal must be dismissed. Education Law �3203 (1) provides, in pertinent part:

The owner of taxable property that is so located that the boundary line between two school districts intersects (a) the dwelling on said property or (b), in the case of an owner-occupied single family dwelling unit, the property on which the dwelling unit is located may designate the school in either of such districts to which the children lawfully residing in said dwelling on said property shall attend by filing with the district clerk of each of such districts a notice of such designation on or before August first in any year and thereafter . . . and, until a subsequent designation shall be made and filed, such children shall be deemed to be resident children of the district designated and shall be entitled to the school privileges of such district as resident pupils without the payment of tuition. (Emphasis added)

The designation requirement in Education Law �3203(1) is clear and unambiguous. Thus, petitioner was required to notify each district by filing a notice of designation on or before August 1, which she failed to do.

Even if petitioner had relied on the alleged conversation with the superintendent in July, which respondent denies occurred, she would not be entitled to the requested relief. Equitable estoppel does not apply against a government subdivision except in limited circumstances not applicable here (Parkview Assoc. v. City of New York, 71 NY2d 274; Appeal of Perez, 42 Ed Dept Rep 71, Decision No. 14,779; Appeal of Holzer, et al., 37 id. 549, Decision No. 13,924).