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Decision No. 18,042

Appeal of JOSHUA LAWLOR and ELISABETH VIEIRA, on behalf of their children, from action of the Board of Education of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 18, 042

(August 30, 2021)

Law Offices of William P. Lalor, Esq., PLLC, attorneys for petitioner, William P. Lalor, Esq., of counsel

Ingerman Smith LLP, attorneys for respondent, Emily J. Lucas, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal a determination of the Board of Education of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District (“respondent”) that their two children (“the students”) are not district residents.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Given the disposition of this appeal, a detailed recitation of the facts is unnecessary.  Beginning in 2011, the students resided in a home within respondent’s district (the “former in-district address”) and attended its schools.  In 2018, petitioners and the students moved outside of the district while their new home was constructed on property located within the district (the “in-district address”).[1]  In November 2019, after notice and an opportunity to submit additional information, respondent excluded the students as non-residents.  Petitioners thereafter agreed to pay non-resident tuition so that the students could attend respondent’s schools.[2]  This appeal ensued.

Petitioners argue that they only intended to temporarily stay at the out-of-district address and that this stay lasted “longer than originally anticipated.”  Petitioners seek a determination that the in-district address “is and ... has been the[ir] permanent residence...” as well as an award of attorneys’ fees.

Respondent contends that the appeal must be dismissed, among other reasons, as moot; respondent explains that petitioners and the students moved into the in-district address in August 2020 and have attended respondent’s schools as district residents since then.

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).  The record reflects that the students have resided in respondent’s district since August 2020 and have attended respondent’s schools as district residents thereafter.  Consequently, there is no present dispute between the parties as to the students’ residency, and the appeal must be dismissed (see Appeal of Smith, 60 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,000; Appeal of Moore, 57 id., Decision No. 17,352; Appeal of N.E., 49 id. 409, Decision No. 16,065).  To the extent that there is a remaining dispute over tuition, I do not find that this presents a live controversy (Appeal of X.W., 59 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,760; Appeal of S.T.V., 57 id., Decision No. 17,371; Appeal of M.S. and M.R.F., 57 id., Decision No. 17,347).

Additionally, petitioners’ request for attorneys’ fees must be denied.   The Commissioner has no authority to award monetary damages, costs, or reimbursements in an appeal pursuant to Education Law § 310 (Appeal of Scott and Edie, 59 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,808; Application of Kolbmann, 48 id. 370, Decision No. 15,888; Appeal of S.B., 48 id. 332, Decision No. 15,875).

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




[1] Although unclear, the evidence in the record suggests that petitioners sold the former in-district address. 


[2] This amount was offset by school taxes paid by petitioners on property they owned within the district (Education Law § 3202 [3]).