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Rogowski v. New Hartford Cent. School Dist – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In Rogowski v. New Hartford Cent. School Dist., 730 F.Supp. 1202, 1206 (N.D.N.Y. 1990), aff'd 914 F.2d 240 (2nd Cir. 1990), the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York ("New York District Court") determined whether the plaintiff--student had a property right in continuing her education in a non-resident school district.

As a result of juvenile delinquency matters, the plaintiff relocated from Utica, New York to New Hartford, New York to reside with a relative. Id. at 1203.

During her ninth grade year, the plaintiff enrolled in a New Hartford school, and visited her parents during weekends, school vacations, and throughout the week. Id.

At the commencement of her tenth grade year, the school's faculty challenged the plaintiff's residence. Id. at 1203-04.

After several inquiries, the faculty informed the plaintiff that her enrollment was terminated because of her "nonresidency" status. Id. at 1204.

The plaintiff filed an action in the trial court, and it issued an order that required the New Hartford school to continue her enrollment until the defendant, the Hartford Education Board ("county board"), held a hearing. Id.

Despite the plaintiff's submission of exhibits and testimony during the hearing, the county board determined that she was not a resident. Id.

Neither party filed for administrative review, but the plaintiff again challenged the county board's determination in the trial court. Id.

The trial court held that the county board's determination was arbitrary and capricious, and vacated its ruling. Id. at 1204-05.

Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a complaint in the New York District Court, alleging a deprivation of property rights. Id. at 1205.

The county board filed a motion for summary judgment, which the New York District Court partially granted. Id.

The Court discussed the state statute, which provided:

A person over five and under twenty-one years of age who has not received a high school diploma is entitled to attend the public schools maintained in the district in which such person resides without the payment of tuition, , and that non-residents of a district . . . may be admitted into the school or schools of a district . . . upon the consent of the . . . board of education, upon terms prescribed by such . . . board. Id. at 1205-06.

After analyzing the statute, the Court noted that the plaintiff improperly interpreted New York law because it did not provide her with an unrestricted right to enroll in any New York public school. Id. at 1206.

Furthermore, the New York legislature purposefully provided the local education boards with the authority to enforce residency requirements, as well as the power to control the policies relating to the admittance of nonresident students. Id.

Accordingly, the Court concluded that the plaintiff did not possess a property right to attend school in New Hartford, and granted the county board's motion for summary judgment. Id. at 1206-07.