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Decision No. 14,105

Appeal of SHARYN TARRICONE, on behalf of JASON TARRICONE, from action of the Board of Education of the Roslyn Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 14,105

(April 6, 1999)

Farley, Holohan, Glockner, Toto & Laden, LLP, attorneys for petitioner, Michael H. Holohan, Jr., Esq., of counsel

Jaspan Schlesinger Silverman & Hoffman, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Jay S. Hellman, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Roslyn Union Free School District ("respondent") denying her request to transport her son to a nonpublic school. The appeal must be dismissed.

On April 28, 1998 petitioner requested transportation for her son Jason to the Portledge School ("Portledge"), a nonpublic school located in Locust Valley, New York. By letter dated May 11, 1998, Jason’s father, Dr. Nicholas J. Tarricone, acknowledged to respondent that the family had missed the April 1, 1998 transportation request deadline, and explained that "until very recently", he had been uncertain whether he would be financially able to send his son to Portledge. By letter dated May 28, 1998 Frank A. Tassone, respondent’s superintendent, denied the transportation request because it was made after the April 1, 1998 deadline, and the district would incur an additional expense to provide the transportation.

By letter dated June 10, 1998, Dr. Tarricone, through his attorney, appealed this denial to respondent on the ground that Dr. Tarricone had offered a reasonable excuse for the delay in requesting transportation. The letter also requested that respondent explain how the district would incur an additional expense if Jason were transported by the district for the 1998-99 school year.

By letter dated September 29, 1998, respondent’s superintendent informed Jason’s parents that respondent had denied his request for transportation because it was untimely. Superintendent Tassone also explained that the district would incur an additional expense if the request were granted because "the route to the Portledge School is on a per seat basis". This appeal ensued.

Petitioner requests that I reverse respondent’s decision because Jason’s father offered a reasonable excuse for the late transportation request. Petitioner also asserts that respondent was on notice of her son’s need for transportation because the district provided transportation for Jason to Portledge during the 1997-98 school year.

Respondent contends it properly denied the untimely transportation request because petitioner failed to establish a reasonable explanation for the delay and asserts that the district would incur an additional expense if it provided transportation to petitioner’s son. Respondent’s superintendent explains that the district contracted for transportation to Portledge for the 1998-99 school year on a "per seat" basis and pursuant to that contract, the district would incur an additional expense of approximately $1,250 per month if the request were granted. In addition, respondent contends that petitioner’s failure to make a timely transportation request was simply an oversight. In support of this contention, respondent submits a September 10, 1998 letter it received from petitioner in which she acknowledges that she "overlooked the deadline for the transportation application" and that she "realize[d] it was [her] mistake". In that letter, petitioner also acknowledges that the district called her shortly before April 1 to remind her of the deadline, but she was away on vacation at that time.

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 Shevlin, 38 Ed Dept Rep 365; Appeal of Mogilski, 37 id. 446). 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 Shevlin, supra; Appeal of Mogilski, supra). 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 Shevlin, 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 Shevlin, supra; Appeal of Amoroso, 37 Ed Dept Rep 359). The board’s determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Shevlin, supra; Appeal of Amoroso, supra).

I find that neither parent has offered a reasonable excuse for their failure to make a timely transportation request. Petitioner’s oversight in missing the deadline is not a basis for excusing her failure to make a timely transportation request (Matter of Perkins, 22 Ed Dept Rep 389).

Nor do I find Dr. Tarricone’s excuse reasonable that he missed the deadline because he did not realize until after April 1, 1998 that he would be financially able to send his son to the nonpublic school. Previous Commissioner’s decisions have held that it was not an abuse of discretion to deny a late transportation request where a student’s parents did not obtain the funds to pay tuition at a nonpublic school until after the April 1 deadline had expired (Appeal of Nolan, 32 Ed Dept Rep 352; Matter of Wybinow, 22 id. 390). A belated decision to enroll a student in a nonpublic school does not constitute a reasonable excuse for failure to submit a timely transportation request (Appeal of Amoroso, supra; Appeal of Matero, 36 Ed Dept Rep 242).

Nor does the fact that the district provided transportation to petitioner’s son during the 1997-98 school year relieve petitioner of her responsibility to make a timely request for transportation or obligate the district to excuse her failure to do so. To the contrary, previous Commissioner’s decision’s have held that where a petitioner has a child previously enrolled in a nonpublic school, petitioner is presumed to know of the April 1 deadline, and have upheld the denial of a late transportation request where no reasonable excuse for the delay was established (Appeal of Williams, 33 Ed Dept Rep 137; Appeal of Shukla, 30 id. 193).

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 Shevlin, supra; Appeal of Mogilski, supra). Respondent alleges that it contracts for private school transportation on a "per seat" basis and under that arrangement it would incur an additional monthly expense of $1,250 to transport petitioner’s son. 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