Decision No. 18,117
Appeal of MICHAEL L. ABITABILO from action of James M. Ryan in his capacity as District Superintendent of the Putnam Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the Board of Education of the Lakeland Central School District, and the Board of Education of the Yorktown Central School District regarding a school district boundary.
Decision No. 18,117
(May 2, 2022)
Shaw, Perelson, May & Lambert, LLP, attorneys for respondents, Beth L. Harris, Esq., of counsel
ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of district superintendent James M. Ryan of the Putnam Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (the “district superintendent”) regarding the location of a school district boundary. The appeal must be dismissed.
Petitioner resides on property in the town of Cortlandt, New York. He alleges that his property is intersected by the boundary between respondent Lakeland Central School District (“Lakeland”) and respondent Yorktown Central School District (“Yorktown”). In October 2018, petitioner attempted to designate Yorktown as the school his children would attend pursuant to Education Law § 3203 (1). By letter dated October 30, 2018, Yorktown indicated that it could not honor this request because petitioner’s property lay entirely within the boundaries of Lakeland.
By letter dated January 20, 2020, petitioner petitioned the district superintendent for a determination that the boundary between Lakeland and Yorktown intersected his property. By letter dated July 7, 2020, the district superintendent determined that the school district boundary line did not intersect petitioner’s property, which lay completely within Lakeland. This appeal ensued.
Petitioner argues that the school district boundary intersects his property and that the district superintendent’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. Petitioner requests a determination that the boundary line intersects his property or, in the alternative, a declaration that he is entitled to designate Yorktown as the school district of attendance under the circumstances.
Respondents argue that the appeal is untimely. On the merits, respondents argue that petitioner has failed to meet his burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested.
With respect to timeliness, an appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the decision or act complained of, unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR 275.16; Appeal of Saxena, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,239; Appeal of Lippolt, 48 id. 457, Decision No. 15,914). Respondents argue that the appeal is untimely because Yorktown refused to honor his request to designate it as the school district of attendance in October 2018. While I agree that any challenge to this determination would be untimely, petitioner is appealing the district superintendent’s July 7, 2020, determination regarding the location of the school district boundary line. This appeal was commenced by personal service of the petition less than 30 days after that decision. Accordingly, I decline to dismiss the appeal as untimely.
Turning to the merits, a “district superintendent of a supervisory district is vested with the authority and duty to investigate and establish the location of boundaries of schools located within the supervisory district under Education Law § 2215 (1)” (Matter of Hudson Falls Cent. Sch. Dist. v Town of Moreau Assessor, 202 AD2d 716, 718 [3d Dept 1994]). The inquiry is factual in nature; the district superintendent does not have discretion to consider other equitable factors (see Appeals of Spectrum Communities et al., 46 Ed Dept Rep 160, Decision No. 15,474; Appeal of Board of Educ. of the Hudson Falls Cent. Sch. Dist., 38 Ed Dept Rep 437, Decision No. 14,067).
In an appeal to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and establishing the facts upon which he or she seeks relief (8 NYCRR 275.10; Appeal of P.C. and K.C., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,337; Appeal of Aversa, 48 id. 523, Decision No. 15,936; Appeal of Hansen, 48 id. 354, Decision No. 15,884).
In the October 25, 2018 letter to Yorktown, petitioner submitted a map that, he asserts, depicts the district boundary line for Yorktown running through his property. The “map” is a screenshot from an application called the Westchester County Geographic Information Systems (“GIS”). The screenshot depicts a black line intersecting petitioner’s property.
In its October 30, 2018 response, Yorktown determined that petitioner’s property lay entirely within the boundaries of Lakeland. Yorktown attached its own screenshot of a GIS map, which depicted the school district boundary line as running along the southern border of petitioner’s property. This screenshot also depicted a distinctive “spike” in the school district boundary line located on a separate parcel west of petitioner’s property.
In his July 7, 2020 determination, the district superintendent explained that he worked with Lakeland, Yorktown, the Westchester County Clerk’s Office, and the Town Clerks of Yorktown and Cortlandt in researching the location of the school district boundary. Based upon his review of materials from these offices as well as the GIS, the district superintendent concluded that there was “no evidence indicating that the school district boundary for Lakeland and Yorktown bisect[ed] [petitioner’s] property.” The district superintendent thus affirmed Yorktown’s determination that petitioner’s property was located entirely within Lakeland.
I find that petitioner has failed to meet his burden of proving a clear legal right to the requested relief. None of the maps relied upon by petitioner establish that the school district boundary line intersects his property. The only map that depicts a line running through petitioner’s property is the GIS screenshot he submitted to Yorktown in 2018. However, there is no proof that the line that appears in the screenshot is the school district boundary line. Notably, no other party has been able to reproduce petitioner’s results using the GIS software.
I also reject petitioner’s argument that the presence or absence of the “spike” in various maps is probative of the school district boundary line. On appeal, petitioner provides additional screenshots of maps from the GIS and Yorktown websites as well as a map he obtained from the New York State Archives depicting school district boundaries throughout Westchester County. Petitioner argues that, because none of these maps contain the distinctive “spike” located to the west of his property, the map that Yorktown relied upon was inaccurate. Any alleged inconsistency in the presence of the “spike,” however, has no bearing on which school district petitioner is entitled to designate because the spike is located on a separate parcel of land to the west of petitioner’s property. Thus, I hereby affirm the district superintendent’s factual determination, which was based upon the record before him.
THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.
END OF FILE
 Respondents also raise failure to join a necessary party as a defense. Any such deficiency was cured during the pendency of this appeal by joinder of Lakeland and Yorktown.
 According to its website, “Westchester County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) develops, maintains and distributes geospatial data for Westchester County, New York.” (Westchester County, “Westchester County GeoHub,” available at https://gis.westchestergov.com/ [last accessed Apr. 22, 2022]).
 While unclear from the record, it is possible that the absence or presence of the “spike” in various maps may be due to their relative scale (i.e., maps showing more detail would show the spike whereas maps showing less detail do not contain the spike).