Mangiafico v. State Board of Education
Based on the plain text of C.G.S. §10-186 and §10-220, there is no statutorily mandated exception to the residency requirement for free school accommodations for students displaced from a town by natural disaster. Enrico Mangiafico purchased a residence in Farmington and moved in with his family in Feb. 2006. The family received mail there, paid taxes on it and listed the address on their motor vehicle registrations. In April 2006, for construction, the family returned to their New Britain property. In June 2006, heavy rain caused structural damage to the Farmington property rendering it uninhabitable. Mangiafico's insurance company refused to distribute insurance proceeds to repair the property. In Sept. 2007, Mangiafico's children began attending Farmington schools. Following a complaint and investigation, the school board notified Mangiafico that because his children were not Farmington residents they would not be permitted to attend Farmington schools after Jan. 2009. Mangiafico requested a hearing and explained his intention to return to the Farmington property. He did not know when that would occur. The board concluded that the children were not Farmington residents and not entitled to free school accommodations. The Superior Court dismissed Mangiafico's appeal. Mangiafico appealed claiming, inter alia, that the board incorrectly determined that his children were not Farmington residents at the time of the hearing and no exception existed to the residency requirement for displacement due to natural disaster. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The board did not abuse its discretion in finding that the plaintiff's children did not actually reside in Farmington and were not entitled to free school accommodations there. During the hearing, the family still was living in New Britain and the Farmington property was on the blighted building list. The board properly determined that the facts supported a finding that the family was indefinitely displaced as opposed to temporarily displaced and that such an indefinite absence was inconsistent with "actual residence" in Farmington. The board also properly determined that there was no exception to the residency requirement of C.G.S. §10-186 and §10-220 for displacement due to natural disaster. Although no statutorily mandated exception to the residency requirement for displacement due to natural disaster exists, the board may, in its discretion, make case-by-case residency determinations that take into consideration displacement due to natural disaster.