Decision No. 15,814
Appeal of RONALD and NOREEN BRIZELL, on behalf of JOSE ENRIGHT, from the actions of the City School District of the City of Middletown regarding transportation.
Decision No. 15,814
(August 6, 2008)
Donoghue, Thomas, Auslander & Drohan, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Neelanjan Choudhury, Esq., of counsel
MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the refusal of the City School District of the City of Middletown (“respondent”) to change a transportation pick-up point. The appeal must be dismissed.
Petitioners live on Dosen Road, a side-street off of Bloomingburg Road in Middletown, New York. They object to a transportation pick-up point located at the intersection of Bloomingburg Road and Dosen Road.
Between September 6 and October 22, 2007, petitioners made numerous attempts to have the transportation pick-up point declared unsafe and require a bus to travel down Dosen Road. In response to a request by petitioners and other individuals to create a child safety zone pursuant to Education Law §3635-b, on or about October 23, 2007, the district’s transportation company, Mid-City Transit Corp. (“Mid-City”), issued a report to respondent.
During its investigation, Mid-City used a standardized point system to determine child safety zones. Under this system, the bus stop in question was assigned a value of 8. To qualify as a child safety zone for grades kindergarten through 8, a score of 12 or more was needed and for grades 9 through 12, the value was 15. By letter dated October 29, 2007, respondent informed petitioners that the bus stop did not meet the threshold to be designated a child safety zone.
During early November 2007, petitioners attended a district board of education meeting and wrote to the district essentially asking for reconsideration. By letter dated November 8, 2007, their request was denied. This appeal ensued.
Petitioners contend that the route to the pick-up point is unsafe because of the speed limit, lack of sidewalks, required crossing of the road, and lack of a waiting place. Petitioners further assert that Mid-City’s investigation was not impartial or accurate. Petitioners therefore argue that the pick-up point is unsafe and that the district’s refusal to change it was arbitrary and capricious.
The district 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 complied with its written guidelines for bus stops. Respondent also asserts numerous procedural defenses.
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). A board of education has broad discretion to determine how transportation is to be provided (Appeal of Del Prete, 40 Ed Dept Rep 148, Decision No. 14,444; Appeal of Reich, 38 id. 565, Decision No. 14,094; Appeal of Broad, 35 id. 248, Decision No. 13,530). In making that determination, a board may balance considerations of safety, convenience, efficiency and cost (Appeal of Del Prete, 40 Ed Dept Rep 148, Decision No. 14,444; Appeal of Reich, 38 id. 565, Decision No. 14,094; Appeal of Byrne, et al., 34 id. 389, Decision No. 13,355). Moreover, a board of education has both the responsibility and the authority to decide difficult questions in balancing the overall efficiency and economy of a transportation system against the convenience of individual students (Appeal of Del Prete, 40 Ed Dept Rep 148, Decision No. 14,444; Appeal of Reich, 38 id. 565, Decision No. 14,094; Appeal of Polifka, 31 id. 61, Decision No. 12,569).
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[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).
On the facts before me, I cannot find that the designated bus stop is unreasonable. The record indicates that Mid-City inspected the pick-up point and issued a written report to respondent. In conducting its inspection, Mid-City applied a standardized and impartial system to evaluate the pick-up point’s safety. Mid-City also provided respondent with comments based on the “2006 NYSED [New York State Education Department’s] Pupil Transportation Safety Guidance Manual.” The record also indicates that the district reviewed Mid-City’s evaluation and heard from petitioners and other interested individuals. After this review, the district found the pick-up point to be safe.
While I understand petitioners’ concerns about their child's safety, it is the responsibility of a student's parents under law, not the school district, to ensure a student's safety in traveling to and from the designated pick-up point (Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, 37 Ed Dept Rep 83, Decision No. 13,811). Based on the record before me, I cannot conclude that the district’s determination was an abuse of discretion.
In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.
THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.
END OF FILE