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Decision No. 16,387

Appeal of E.K. from action of the Board of Education of the Lancaster Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 16,387

July 27, 2012

Harris Beach PLLC, attorneys for respondents, Tracie L. Lopardi, and Marnie E. Smith, Esqs., of counsel

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Education of the Lancaster Central School District (“respondent”) to provide her with transportation based on its determination that she is not a homeless unaccompanied youth within the meaning of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act (42 USC §11431 etseq., “McKinney-Vento”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, petitioner resided with her parents within respondent’s school district and attended the district’s high school.  On or about January 17, 2012, petitioner left her parents’ home and moved into the residence of a family friend outside the district.

At some point, petitioner claimed that she was homeless and apparently requested transportation by respondent to and from its high school.  Respondent arranged for transportation to begin on January 25, 2012.  On or about January 31, 2012, petitioner indicated that she would not be returning to her parents’ home within the district and she requested “senior privilege” status.  “Senior privilege” entitled petitioner to attend respondent’s high school for the remainder of her senior year despite the fact that she was no longer living with her parents in the district.

By letter dated February 9, 2012, respondent’s high school principal advised petitioner that she would be granted “senior privilege” status and could attend the district’s high school, but that transportation would not be provided.  Subsequently, petitioner was notified that transportation would cease as of March 26, 2012.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was granted on March 22, 2012.

Petitioner contends that she is a homeless unaccompanied youth within the meaning of McKinney-Vento and, therefore, is entitled to transportation between her friend’s residence and respondent’s high school.  Respondent contends that petitioner has not established that she is a homeless unaccompanied youth within the meaning of McKinney-Vento and Education Law §3209.  Respondent further asserts that petitioner has failed to demonstrate that its determination was arbitrary, capricious or contrary to law.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 Ed Dept Rep 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; Appeal of Embro, 48 id. 204, Decision No. 15,836).  Pursuant to the March 22, 2012 interim order, respondent provided petitioner with transportation to its high school pending the ultimate determination of this appeal.  The 2011-2012 school year has concluded, and petitioner graduated in June 2012.  Accordingly, the matter is moot, and the appeal must be dismissed.

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.