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Decision No. 14,809

Appeal of MENACHEM GAL, on behalf of his son NIV, from action of the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Union Free School District No. 24 regarding transportation.

Decision No. 14,809

(October 9, 2002)

Shebitz Berman & Cohen, PC, attorneys for respondent, Matthew J. Delforte, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Valley Stream Union Free School District No. 24 ("respondent") denying his son transportation to a nonpublic school. The appeal must be dismissed.

By letter dated April 17, 2002, petitioner requested transportation for his son to a nonpublic school for the 2002-2003 school year. In his letter, petitioner stated that the reason for his late request was that he was unaware of the April 1 deadline. By letter dated May 14, 2002, respondent"s director of finance and operations notified petitioner that respondent had denied his request based on petitioner"s failure to comply with the April 1 deadline. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner requests that I order respondent to grant his transportation request. Respondent asserts that it properly denied petitioner's request because it was not made by April 1, 2002, and transporting petitioner's son to the private school would require additional district expenditures.

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 Wheelwright, 41 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,744; Appeal of Vigliotta, 40 id. 344, Decision No. 14,493; Appeal of Goldman, 39 id. 630, Decision No. 14,334). The purpose of this deadline is to enable school districts to budget funds and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation reasonably and economically (Appeal Wheelwright, supra; Appeal of Vigliotta, 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 R.O., 40 Ed Dept Rep 137, Decision No. 14,441; Appeal of Gabay, 39 id. 492, Decision No. 14,290). 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. The board's determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of R.O., supra; Appeal of Gabay, supra).

In this instance, petitioner has failed to offer a reasonable explanation for his delayed request, stating only that he was unaware of the April 1 deadline. A board of education need not accept ignorance of the filing requirement as a reasonable excuse for failure to file a timely transportation request (Appeal of Wheelwright, supra; Appeal of Goldman, supra).

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 cost to the district (Appeal of R.O., supra). In a sworn affidavit, respondent"s director of finance and operations states that transporting petitioner's son to the private school would

cost the district an additional $300 a month. Under these circumstances, I find that respondent did not abuse its discretion by refusing petitioner's transportation request.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE