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Decision No. 18,000

Appeal of RAEANN SMITH, on behalf of her children, from action of the Board of Education of the Mayfield Central School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 18,000

(June 9, 2021)

Girvin and Ferlazzo, PC, attorneys for respondent, Erin Rose-Morris, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the determination of the Board of Education of the Mayfield Central School District (“respondent”) that her three children (“the students”) are not district residents and, therefore, are not entitled to attend the district’s schools tuition free.  The appeal must be dismissed. 

Given the disposition of this appeal, a detailed recitation of the facts is unnecessary.  The students have attended respondent’s schools since September 2012.  Respondent’s superintendent maintains that he began an investigation into the students’ residency following receipt of a doctor’s note indicating that one of the students lived at an address outside of respondent’s geographical boundaries (the “out-of-district address”). 

The district conducted surveillance of the out-of-district address from December 17, 2019 through February 4, 2020.  In a letter dated March 5, 2020, respondent’s superintendent determined that the students were not residents and would be excluded from respondent’s schools effective March 20, 2020.  Petitioner appealed the superintendent’s determination to respondent.  In a letter dated May 27, 2020, respondent upheld the superintendent’s determination that petitioner and the students were not district residents.[1]  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was granted on August 5, 2020. 

Petitioner contends that she and the students reside with family friends in respondent’s district.  Petitioner asserts that she and the students are “often at the out-of-district residence” to care for petitioner’s father, but denies she and the students reside at that location.  For relief, petitioner requests a determination that the students are district residents entitled to attend respondent’s schools without payment of tuition.  

Respondent maintains that petitioner has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and that petitioner has failed to meet her burden of establishing a clear legal right to the requested relief. 

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 that no longer exists due to the passage of time or a change in circumstances (Appeal of Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937; see Matter of Hearst Corp. v Clyne, 50 NY2d 707, 714 [1980]).  Where the Commissioner can no longer award a petitioner meaningful relief on his or her claims, no live controversy remains and the appeal must be dismissed (Appeal of R.B., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,394; Appeal of N.C., 40 id. 445, Decision No. 14,522).

Respondent’s counsel submitted an affidavit from the superintendent dated October 2, 2020 indicating that petitioner had submitted proof of residency “at a new residence within the District, prior to the commencement” of the 2020-2021 school year, and that as a result, the students are “currently attending school within” respondent’s district.  Consequently, the appeal is moot and must be dismissed (see Appeal of Moore, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,352; Appeal of N.E., 49 id. 409, Decision No. 16,065; Appeal of McLean, 45 id. 109, Decision No. 15,273).

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




[1] Respondent allowed the students to complete the 2019-2020 school year in its district but stated that petitioner must “take steps to enroll [her] children in their school district of residence for the 2020-21 school year.”