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Decision No. 15,770

Appeal of CARL WEINSCHENK, on behalf of his daughter EMILY, from action of the Board of Education of the Roslyn Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 15,770

(June 26, 2008)

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

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the decision of the Board of Education of the Roslyn Union Free School District (“respondent”) to deny his request to change the transportation pick-up/drop-off point (“bus stop”) for his daughter, Emily.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner and Emily live on George Street in East Hills, New York.  George Street is approximately one-tenth of a mile long, has a cul-de-sac on one end, and intersects Glen Cove Road (a four-lane highway) on the other.  Prior to the 2006-2007 school year, respondent had assigned Emily to a bus stop located on George Street.

For the 2006-2007 school year, respondent assigned middle and high school students who lived on George Street (including Emily, who was in middle school) to a bus stop located at the corner of George Street and Glen Cove Road.  Petitioner challenged this decision, and respondent moved the middle school bus stop back onto George Street, where it remains.  The high school bus stop, however, remained at the corner of George Street and Glen Cove Road.

For the 2007-2008 school year, respondent assigned Emily (a high school freshman) to the high school bus stop at the corner of George Street and Glen Cove Road.  Petitioner challenged this decision and requested that Emily’s bus stop again be moved back onto George Street.  By letter dated July 31, 2007, respondent’s assistant superintendent for business denied petitioner’s request.  Petitioner appealed to respondent’s superintendent who, by letter dated August 16, 2007, also denied his request.  This appeal ensued. 

Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on September 27, 2007.
Petitioner argues that Emily’s current bus stop is unsafe. He alleges that there have been 27 reported accidents between January 1, 2000 and July 31, 2007 near the site of her bus stop, and that the speed, volume and nature of traffic on Glen Cove Road is hazardous and presents “a higher level of risk.”  In addition, petitioner asserts that Emily must cross a busy parking lot at the head of George Street to reach her bus stop, and that environmental factors (such as the lack of daylight on some mornings and/or snow banks in the winter) may impair drivers’ visibility and increase the level of risk.  Petitioner, therefore, maintains that respondent’s refusal to change Emily’s bus stop was careless, arbitrary and capricious.

Respondent contends that Emily’s current bus stop was established in a manner consistent with district policy, and that a number of factors were considered, including the age of students using the stop, when it decided not to move the bus stop for high school students.  Furthermore, respondent asserts that in response to petitioner’s current request, its director of transportation, a representative from its insurance company and its superintendent (who periodically visited the site) all assessed the adequacy of the bus stop and determined that it was appropriate.  In addition, respondent maintains that of the 27 accidents identified by petitioner, none involved pedestrians or a school bus, and none occurred around Emily’s established pick-up or drop-off times.  Respondent, therefore, denies petitioner’s assertions and argues that it did not abuse its discretion in refusing to change Emily’s bus stop.

A board of education may exercise its discretion when designating pick-up and drop-off points, provided that the board uses reasonable care in exercising such discretion (Appeal of Smith, 44 Ed Dept Rep 201, Decision No. 15,148; Appeal of Raymond, 39 id. 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Hobbs, 38 id. 203, Decision No. 14,015). In establishing a pick-up point, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Raymond, 39 Ed Dept Rep 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Hobbs, 38 id. 203, Decision No. 14,015; Appeal of Marsh, 36 id. 134, Decision No. 13,680). The law does not require a school district to provide transportation for the pupil directly to and from home (Education Law §3635[1][d]; Ossant v. Millard, 72 Misc 2d 384) and boards of education have discretion to require students to walk to pick-up points from which transportation will be provided (Appeal of Marsh, 36 Ed Dept Rep 134, Decision No. 13,680; Appeal of Mechanick, et al., 33 id. 692, Decision No. 13,200). Where a student’s home is on a dangerous road or at a remote location, the parents are not free from the obligation to assist the student in reaching the pick-up point. It is the responsibility of the parent, not the district, to see that the child safely reaches the pick-up point (Appeal of Raymond, 39 Ed Dept Rep 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Warner, 37 id. 469, Decision No. 13,907; Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, 37 id. 83, Decision No. 13,811).

The Commissioner of Education will uphold a district’s transportation determination unless it is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Smith, 44 Ed Dept Rep 201, Decision No. 15,148; Appeal of Flemming, 43 id. 391, Decision No. 15,028; Appeal of Bissar, 43 id. 74, Decision No. 14,923).

While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s concerns about Emily’s safety, there is no basis on the record before me to overturn respondent’s decision.  The factors raised by petitioner, including the nature and volume of traffic on Glen Cove Road, are identical to characteristics of many pickup points in rural and suburban areas, and are not, in and of themselves, a basis for deeming the current bus stop unsafe (seee.g.Appeal of Kelsey, 38 Ed Dept Rep 396, Decision No. 14,063; Appeal of O’Connell, 37 id. 22, Decision No. 13,794; Appeal of Marsh, 36 id. 134, Decision No. 13,680).  Moreover, as noted above, it is petitioner’s responsibility, and not the school district’s, to ensure Emily’s safety in traveling to and from her bus stop (seee.g., Appeal of O’Connell, 37 Ed Dept Rep 22, Decision No. 13,794).

The record demonstrates that respondent considered petitioner’s request for a change in Emily’s bus stop and, following an investigation, its personnel deemed it to be safe.  I am unable to find on the record before me, therefore, that respondent’s refusal to change Emily’s bus stop was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.

I have considered petitioner’s remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED

END OF FILE