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Decision No. 15,568

Appeal of MAUREEN MORGAN, on behalf of her son GEORGE, from action of the Board of Education of the Minisink Valley Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 15,568

(April 12, 2007)

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

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent’s denial of her request to change the location of her son’s transportation pick-up point.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner and her son, a first grade student, reside on School House Road in the Town of Greenville in respondent’s district.  At the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year, as in the prior school year, respondent designated another address on School House Road as the pick-up point for petitioner's son.  School House Road is unpaved with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

On November 9, 2006, petitioner submitted a written request to respondent’s assistant superintendent of business seeking to have her son’s pick-up point changed to her address.  On this form, petitioner indicated that the bus stop is unsafe and that she had an altercation with the neighbor who resides at the pick-up point address and was advised that she and her son could no longer wait on their property for the school bus.

On November 13, 2006, respondent’s transportation committee, the director of transportation and the assistant superintendent for business investigated the bus stop and determined that it was within respondent’s guidelines for distances and bus stops.  Following this investigation, the assistant superintendent for business had a conversation with the family residing at the pick-up point address and the family agreed to allow petitioner and her son to wait in their driveway for the bus or to park their car and wait in an off-road area.  Subsequent to this investigation, petitioner submitted additional information for the district’s review, raising questions about the safety of the bus stop.  By letter dated December 11, 2006, the superintendent notified petitioner that her transportation request was denied.  This appeal ensued. 

Petitioner contends that respondent's decision to deny her request to change the location of her son’s bus stop was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.  Specifically, petitioner alleges that the bus stop is unsafe because it is situated on an incline at the base of a steep hill, the visibility is limited and the bus stop is located less than 300 feet from the crest of the hill which directly intersects a country road with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour.  Petitioner also alleges that due to the altercation with her neighbor, she and her son are forced to wait in the roadway.  Petitioner requests that her son be provided a safe waiting area for his school bus and recommends two alternative locations on School House Road.

Respondent contends that its decision not to change the pick-up point was reasonable and is consistent with its written guidelines for distances and bus stops.  Respondent further argues that its decision was grounded in considerations of safety, economy, efficiency and equity and that the designated bus stop is not unlike other stops in similar rural areas within respondent’s district.  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 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 demonstrates that the district considered petitioner's request for a change in her son’s pick-up point.  It examined petitioner's request, visited and inspected the site and reviewed the safety factors.  Respondent’s superintendent for business also spoke with the resident at the pick-up point address to ensure that petitioner and her son would have a safe place to wait for the bus.  In its review, respondent determined that the existing bus stop was safe and within the parameters of respondent's guidelines for distances and bus stops.  In addition, respondent determined that the alternate locations suggested by petitioner would be more hazardous than the current site because they would necessitate that petitioner and the neighboring family walk around a curve in the road.

While I understand petitioner's concerns about her son's safety, for the reasons set forth above, I cannot find respondent’s pick-up point decision arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE