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Decision No. 15,761

Appeal of JORGE FLORES, on behalf of his son GEORGE, from action of the Board of Education of the Longwood Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 15,761

(June 11, 2008)

Ingerman Smith, L.L.P., attorneys for respondent, Antonia L. Hamblin, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Longwood Central School District (“respondent”) denying transportation to his son, George, for the 2007-2008 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

On August 23, 2007, petitioner filed a nonpublic school transportation request with the district’s transportation office requesting that George be transported to Smithtown Christian School (“Smithtown”).  By letter dated August 27, 2007, the district’s assistant transportation supervisor denied petitioner’s request because it was filed after the April 1 deadline.  Petitioner appealed to respondent.  By letter dated December 6, 2007, the district’s superintendent advised petitioner that respondent denied his appeal.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner maintains that he demonstrated good cause for the late filing of his transportation request.  He claims that on June 19, 2007 he received notice that his son’s nonpublic school, Faith Academy, was closing and that Smithtown did not accept his son until August 2007.  Petitioner requests that respondent transport his son to Smithtown.  In the alternative petitioner requests reimbursement for the transportation expenses he incurred.

Respondent claims that petitioner was aware of the April 1 deadline, that he did not submit a timely request for any transportation for the 2007-2008 school year and that petitioner failed to provide a reasonable explanation for the delay.  Respondent also contends that transporting George would result in additional expense of $85 per day to the district.  Respondent maintains that its decision was not arbitrary or capricious.

Education Law §3635(2) requires that an application 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 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 this deadline is to enable school districts to budget funds and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation reasonably and economically  (Appeal of S.M., 44 Ed Dept Rep 391, Decision No. 15,208; Appeal of J.D., 42 id. 373; Decision No. 14,884; Appeal of Cusumano, 42 id. 309, Decision No. 14,864).  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 S.M., 44 Ed Dept Rep 391, Decision No. 15,208; Appeal of Davila, 41 id. 419, Decision No. 14,732).  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 Wheelwright, 41 Ed Dept Rep 454, Decision No. 14,744).  The 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; Appeal of Wheelwright, 41 id. 454, Decision No. 14,744.).  It is not disputed that petitioner failed to request transportation to any school by the April 1 deadline.

Petitioner argues that he was unable to submit a timely transportation request because he did not know that Faith Academy was closing until June and that George was not accepted to Smithtown until August.  However, a belated decision to enroll a student in a private school is not a reasonable explanation for the late submission of a transportation request (Appeal of S.M., 44 Ed Dept Rep 391, Decision No. 15,208; Appeal of J.D., 42 id. 373, Decision No. 14,884; Appeal of Davila, 41 id. 419, Decision No. 14,732).  Moreover, a belated notice of admission to a nonpublic school does not constitute a reasonable explanation for delay (Appeal of Gabay, 39 Ed Dept Rep 492, Decision No. 14,290).

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 S.M., 44 Ed Dept Rep 391, Decision No. 15,208; Appeal of Cusumano, 42 id. 309, Decision No. 14,864; Appeal of Gal, 42 id. 170, Decision No. 14,809).  However, where a late transportation request would result in additional cost, such transportation request may be denied.  The Commissioner has consistently sustained denials of untimely applications for transportation where the transportation requested would impose additional costs upon the school district (seeAppeal of S.M., 44 Ed Dept Rep 391, Decision No. 15,208; Appeal of J.D., 42 id. 373, Decision No. 14,884).

Respondent contends that the requested transportation would result in the district incurring an additional expense of $85 per day.  Petitioner has not refuted this contention.  Accordingly, I cannot find that respondent abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s request.

I have considered the parties' remaining claims and find them without merit.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE