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Decision No. 14,056

Appeal of DENISE SHEVLIN, on behalf of her daughter, CAITLIN SHEVLIN, from action of the Board of Education of the Carle Place Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 14,056

(December 22, 1998)

Brancato and Marchese, P.C., attorneys for petitioner

Robert F. Mulligan, Esq., attorney for respondent

Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Carle Place Union Free School District ("respondent") denying her request to transport her daughter, Caitlin, to a nonpublic school for the 1998-99 school year. The appeal must be dismissed.

For several years prior to the 1998-99 school year, petitioner’s daughter attended a nonpublic school. During that time, petitioner transported her daughter to school. On August 10, 1998, petitioner made a request by telephone for transportation for her daughter to the nonpublic school for the 1998-99 school year. Respondent’s administrative assistant for support services advised her that her request was untimely but that she could make a written request for a waiver of the

deadline. By letter dated August 10, 1998, petitioner renewed her request for transportation and explained that personal circumstances, including the birth of triplets in December 1997, her husband’s departure three months later, and her subsequent re-employment, prompted her request. On August 18, 1998, respondent denied petitioner’s request and respondent’s administrative assistant for support services notified her of its decision by telephone on August 19, 1998. Petitioner commenced the instant appeal on September 25, 1998.

Petitioner contends that she provided a reasonable explanation for her delay in requesting transportation and also asserts that her request will not subject respondent to any additional expense. Respondent contends that its denial of petitioner’s request was reasonable, and that it has no obligation to provide transportation for petitioner’s daughter because to do so would result in an additional annual expenditure of $5,131.50 to the district. Respondent also contends that this appeal is untimely.

An appeal to the Commissioner of Education must be brought within 30 days of the making of the decision or act complained of unless excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR "275.16). The record indicates that respondent denied petitioner’s request for transportation on August 18, 1998 and notified her of this determination on August 19, 1998. Petitioner commenced this appeal on September 25, 1998, more than 30 days thereafter. In light of the fact that petitioner offers no excuse for the delay, the appeal must be dismissed as untimely (Appeal of Cannady, 38 Ed Dept Rep 88).

Even if the appeal were timely, I would dismiss it on the merits. Pursuant to Education Law "3635(2), a request for transportation to a nonpublic school must be submitted no later than the first day of April preceding the school year for which transportation is requested (Appeal of Mogilski, 37 Ed Dept Rep 446; Appeal of Amoroso, 37 id. 359; Appeal of Somer, 34 id. 16). The purpose of this deadline is to enable school districts to budget funds and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation reasonably and economically (Appeal of Mogilski, supra; Appeal of Amoroso, supra; Appeal of McNair, 33 Ed Dept Rep 418). However, a district may not reject a late request for transportation if there is a reasonable explanation for the delay (Education Law "3635(2); Appeal of Amoroso, supra; Appeal of Somer, supra). In the first instance, it is the responsibility of the board of education to determine whether a parent has offered a reasonable explanation for submitting a late request (Appeal of Amoroso, supra; Appeal of Matero, 36 Ed Dept Rep 242). The board’s determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Amoroso,supra; Appeal of Matero, supra; Appeal of Somer, supra).

Petitioner alleges that she gave birth to triplets in December 1997 and that her husband left her three months later, precipitating her request for transportation. However, both these events preceded the April 1, 1998 deadline. Accordingly, it appears petitioner could have filed a timely request for transportation. Furthermore, inconvenience is not a basis for granting transportation to someone who is otherwise ineligible (Appeal of Mogilski, supra; Appeal of McNair, supra). While I sympathize with the difficult circumstances in which petitioner finds herself, on these facts I cannot find that respondent abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s late request.

Even absent a reasonable explanation for the delay, a late transportation request must be granted if the requested transportation can be provided under existing transportation arrangements at no additional costs to the district (Appeal of Mogilski, supra; Appeal of Young, 34 id. 350; Appeal of Somer, supra). Respondent alleges that it contracts for private school transportation service on a "per pupil per month" basis and under that arrangement it would incur an annual expense of $5,131.50 to transport petitioner’s daughter. Under these circumstances, I conclude that respondent has not abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s late transportation request.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE