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Decision No. 18,179

Appeal of S.B., on behalf of her child, from action of the Board of Education of the Half Hollow Hills Central School District regarding residency and homelessness.

Decision No. 18,179

(August 18, 2022)

Frazer & Feldman, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Christie R. Jacobson, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Half Hollow Hills Central School District (“respondent”) that her child (the “student”) is not homeless within the meaning of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 USC § 11431 et seq., “McKinney-Vento”) and, therefore, is 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.  In 2017, petitioner and the student resided at a home within the district (the “in-district residence”) and the student was registered in respondent’s schools.  In 2018, petitioner was forced to move from the in-district address.  Thereafter, she and the student moved to housing managed by a county department of social services (“DSS”) located outside of respondent’s district (the “first out-of-district residence”).  Respondent allowed the student to continue attending its schools based on petitioner’s claim that the out-of-district address was “transitional.”  By letter dated June 12, 2020, respondent advised petitioner that the student was no longer eligible for assistance under McKinney-Vento and would be excluded at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.  By letter dated August 7, 2020, respondent denied petitioner’s subsequent appeal and notified her that the student would no longer be permitted to attend the district’s schools tuition-free after September 7, 2020.  This appeal ensued.

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 homeless liaison indicates in an affidavit that petitioner and the student no longer reside at the first out-of-district residence.  Instead, petitioner and the student now reside at a residence in Medford, New York (the “second out-of-district residence”).  Any determination as to whether the student remains homeless would center on the adequacy and permanency of the second out-of-district residence.[1]  Therefore, the appeal must be dismissed as moot.  Petitioner retains the right to seek a determination from respondent as to whether the second out-of-district residence is fixed, regular and adequate.[2]




[1] Although respondent has continued the student’s enrollment in its district, it has only done so to abide by the automatic stay provisions of McKinney-Vento and State law, which apply during the pendency of this appeal (see 42 USC § 11432 [g] [3] [E]; Education Law § 3209 [5] [c]).


[2] The record contains a copy of a residential lease for the second out-of-district residence whereby petitioner agreed to pay $1,900 per month in rent.