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Decision No. 15,405

Appeal of MARIA THOMAS, on behalf of her daughter SHANIQUE, from action of the Board of Education of the Malverne Union Free School District regarding transportation.

 

Decision No. 15,405

 

(May 12, 2006)

 

Ehrlich, Frazer & Feldman, attorneys for respondent, Phillip Kouyoumdjian, Esq., of counsel

 

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Malverne Union Free School District (“respondent”) denying her daughter, Shanique, transportation during the 2005-2006 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed. 

In May 2005, petitioner purchased a house in respondent’s district.  In August 2005, petitioner requested transportation for Shanique, who attends a nonpublic school in Queens, New York.  The district denied petitioner’s request.  By letter dated August 31, 2005, petitioner appealed this decision directly to respondent, who on September 14, 2005, also denied her request.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on October 25, 2005.

Petitioner contends that she did not purchase her house in respondent’s district until May 21, 2005, and therefore could not have requested transportation by April 1, 2005.  Petitioner further claims to have been unaware that she had 30 days from establishing residency to request transportation.  Petitioner also alleges that she was unaware that respondent would transport her daughter to and from a private school in Queens.

Respondent contends that petitioner’s transportation request was untimely, and that she had failed to provided a reasonable excuse for her delay.  In addition, respondent alleges that transportation cannot be provided to petitioner’s daughter without the district incurring additional costs.  As a result, respondent argues that its decision to deny petitioner’s request for transportation was consistent with its policy, was within its lawful discretion, and was not arbitrary or capricious. 

Education Law �3635(2) requires that an application for transportation to a nonpublic school be submitted no later than April 1 preceding the school year for which transportation is requested or, if the parents or guardian of a child did not reside in the district on April 1, within 30 days after establishing residency in the district.  The purpose of these deadlines is to enable school districts to budget funds and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation reasonably and economically (Appeal of Goldman, 39 Ed Dept Rep 630, Decision No. 14,334; Appeal of Mogilski, 37 id. 446, Decision No. 13,901).  Districts, however, may not reject a late request for transportation if there is a reasonable explanation for the delay (Education Law �3635[2]; Appeal of J.D., 42 Ed Dept Rep 373, Decision No. 14,884; Appeal of Goldman, 39 id. 630, Decision No. 14,334).  In the first instance, it is a board of education’s responsibility to determine whether a parent has offered a reasonable explanation for submitting a late request (Appeal of Wheelwright, 41 Ed Dept Rep 454, Decision No. 14,744; Appeal of Tarricone, 38 id. 623, Decision No. 14,105).  A board’s determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Gal, 42 Ed Dept Rep 170, Decision No. 14,809).

Here, petitioner admits that she did not submit a timely request for transportation.  The only excuse petitioner gave for the delay was that she was not aware that she had 30 days from establishing residency to request transportation and that she was unaware that respondent would provide her daughter with transportation. 

It is well established that boards of education need not accept ignorance of the filing requirement as a reasonable excuse for failure to file a timely transportation request (Appeal of Goldman, 39 Ed Dept Rep 630, Decision No. 14,334; Appeal of Mogilski, 37 id. 446, Decision No. 13,901).  A parent’s lack of familiarity of the law regarding the filing of transportation requests, therefore, is not a sufficient reason to require a board of education to waive the filing requirement (Appeal of Reuillard, 16 Ed Dept Rep 101, Decision No. 9318). 

Even absent a reasonable excuse for delay, however, a late request for transportation must be granted if the transportation can be provided under existing transportation arrangements at no additional cost to the district (Appeal of Goldman, 39 Ed Dept Rep 630, Decision No. 14,334; Appeal of Tarricone, 38 id. 623, Decision No. 14,105; Appeal of Mogilski, 37 id. 446, Decision No. 13,901).  Here, respondent contends that providing transportation to petitioner’s daughter would result in the district incurring additional expense to provide her with a metro card.  Petitioner has not refuted this contention.  Accordingly, I am unable to find that the transportation petitioner seeks can be provided to her daughter without additional expenses being incurred by the district.  Based on the record before me, I cannot find that respondent abused its discretion in not providing petitioner’s daughter with transportation.

   

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED

END OF FILE