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Decision No. 15,307

Appeal of JOHN GALDUN, on behalf of his children JACLYN, JANINE and JOHN, from action of the Board of Education of the Minisink Valley Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 15,307

(September 15, 2005)

Shaw & Perelson, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Margo L. May, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Minisink Valley Central School District ("respondent") denying petitioner's request to change his children's transportation pick-up point. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner's two daughters attend Minisink Valley Middle School and petitioner' s son attends Minisink Valley Intermediate School. Petitioner and his family live on Hill Road, a rural cul-de-sac in Middletown, New York. The nearest intersection is Hill Road and Wedgewood Lane, which is petitioner's children's transportation pick-up point. Petitioner and respondent agree that the pick-up point is .3 miles from petitioner's home.

During the 2003-2004 school year, petitioner requested that the pick-up point be relocated to the end of their cul-de-sac. By letter dated June 11, 2004, respondent's superintendent of business denied the request. Petitioner then requested that respondent review the designate d pick-up point. On September 22, 2004, the district's transportation committee visited the pick-up point and recommended no change. By letter dated October 1, 2004, respondent's superintendent notified petitioner of the board's denial of his request to change the pick-up point. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that the route to the pick-up point is unsafe because there is a blind rise limiting sight distance and because there are no sidewalks or shoulders and overgrowth prevents walking on the narrow grass along the way. Petitioner further asserts that the path is desolate, that vehicles belonging to unknown persons park along the route, and that one of his daughters has allergic reactions to bee stings. Petitioner contends, therefore, that the pick-up point is unsafe and that respondent's refusal to change it is arbitrary and capricious. Petitioner seeks relocation of the pick-up point to the cul-de-sac at the end of Hill Road.

Respondent asserts that the decision not to change the pick-up point was neither arbitrary, capricious nor unreasonable. It denies that the bus stop is unsafe and states that it complies with its written guidelines for distances and bus stops. Respondent also asserts that petitioner has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted since it is the responsibility of the parent, not the school district, to ensure that the children safely reach the pick-up point.

A board of education has discretion in designating pick-up and drop-off points provided the board uses reasonable care in exercising such discretion (Appeal of Cowley, 44 Ed Dept Rep 125, Decision No. 15,121; Appeal of Hurwitz, 43 id. 463, Decision No. 15,051; Appeal of Eason, 43 id. 201, Decision No. 14,970). In establishing pick-up points, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Cowley, 44 Ed Dept Rep 125, Decision No. 15,121; Appeal of Hurwitz , 43 id. 463, Decision No. 15,051; Appeal of Eason, 43 id. 201, Decision No. 14,970).

Education Law �3635 does not require a school district to provide students transportation directly to and from their homes (Ossant v. Millard, et al., 72 Misc. 2d 384; Appeal of Cowley, 44 Ed Dept Rep 125, Decision No. 15,121; Appeal of Eason, 43 id. 201, Decision No. 14,970). Boards of education may require students to walk to pick-up points from which transportation will be provided (Appeal of Cowley, 44 Ed Dept Rep 125, Decision No. 15,121; Appeal of Raymond, 39 id. 774, Decision No. 14,376).

Where a student's home is on a dangerous road or at a remote location, the parents are not free from an obligation to assist students in reaching the pick-up point (Appeal of Hurwitz, 43 Ed Dept Rep 463, Decision No. 15,051; Appeal of Eason, 43 id. 201, Decision No. 14,970; Appeal of Raymond, 39 id. 774, Decision No. 14,376). It is the responsibility of the parents, not the district, to see that their child safely reaches the pick-up point (Pratt, et al. v. Robinson, et al., 39 NY2d 554; Appeal of Cowley, 44 Ed Dept Rep 125, Decision No. 15,121; Appeal of Hurwitz, 43 id. 463, Decision No. 15,051).

The record indicates that petitioner's request to change his children's pick-up point to the Hill Road cul-de-sac was considered on numerous occasions. Respondent's transportation personnel reviewed the request, took measurements, and determined that the current pick-up point was in accordance with the district's transportation policy, which states that students may be required to walk up to a half mile.

In addition, the district's transportation committee visited the site and considered petitioner's safet y objections. Based on its review, the committee found the stop to be within district guidelines.

After carefully examining the evidence presented by the parties, I find that respondent acted reasonably and within its discretion in declining to add the proposed pick-up point. The record indicates that respondent thoroughly investigated petitioner's concerns and balanced considerations of safety, convenience and costs. Accordingly, I cannot conclude that respondent's determination was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

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