Adam Dayan, Esq.
Who Pays For A Child's Education Costs?
The question of who is responsible for paying a child's education costs, which usually boils down to the issue of where the child resides, can become a contentious issue. I thought I would share this one example, which just came across my desk as part of the New York State Bar Association's law digest.
In Board of Ed. of the Garrison Union Free School District v. Greek Archdiocese Institute of St. Basil (a mouthful, I know), the issue concerned foster children and what school district was legally obligated to cover the cost of their education - should it be the district where the foster care home is located, or the district where the child's parents reside? Education law section 3202 states that a child of school age "is entitled to attend the public schools maintained in the district in which such person resides without the payment of tuition." The court held that *residence* means the district of the child's last permanent residence - i.e. where the child's parents live - and not the district where the temporary foster placement is located. (In a previous case, Catlin, the Court of Appeals held that it still goes by the parents' district even where the child is living with a family member in another district.) What about cases where the child's parents have passed away or their is no possibility of the child returning to them - should their residence still determine who is responsible for the child's education? Should there be a distinction between biological parents and adoptive parents? The court did not explicitly address these points. Ultimately, it granted the school district a declaratory judgment indicating that St. Basil, which was located in the Garrison school district, could enroll its children in the Garrison public schools for free.