Appeal of Y.W., on behalf of his children M.W. AND J.W., from action of the Board of Education of the Washingtonville Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 16,092

(July 10, 2010)

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

STEINER, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Washingtonville Central School District (“respondent”) denying his request to change his children’s transportation pick-up point.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides in a rural cul-de-sac within respondent’s district.  For a short period of time at the start of the 2009-2010 school year, his children’s transportation pick-up point was located within the cul-de-sac.  In early September 2009, respondent was notified that construction work was to take place within the cul-de-sac and, as a result, the school bus was required to back up in petitioner’s driveway to turn around.  Respondent’s dispatcher notified petitioner’s wife that, as a consequence, the children’s pick-up point would be moved to the corner of Kingsville Drive, which is approximately 800 feet from petitioner’s home.  After personally inspecting the cul-de-sac, the dispatcher realized he had erred in permitting the pick-up point to be located in the cul-de-sac because there was not enough room to maneuver.  As a result, petitioner’s children’s pick-up point was permanently moved to the corner of Kingsville Drive.

By letter dated September 14, 2009, petitioner requested that the transportation pick-up point be located within the cul-de-sac.  By letter dated September 18, 2009, respondent’s director of transportation denied petitioner’s request.  Subsequently, petitioner met with school officials to discuss the situation.

On or about October 15 or 16, 2009, respondent’s executive director of operations personally visited the cul-de-sac and the corner of Kingsville Drive.  He determined the bus stop at the corner was within one-tenth of a mile from petitioner’s home, that it conformed to the district’s policy and that there were no extenuating circumstances to support a pick-up point within the cul-de-sac.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner alleges that his children are too young to walk alone to the corner of Kingsville Drive, that his wife is unable to escort them there, that there are no lights on the street and that the Kingsville Drive pick-up point is not within the sight of his home.  Petitioner also asserts he is an observant, orthodox Jew and that the district has been engaging in discrimination against him and his children.

Respondent alleges that petitioner fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and fails to demonstrate a clear legal right to the relief requested.  Respondent contends that its decision not to locate the pick-up point in the cul-de-sac was neither arbitrary, capricious nor unreasonable.

In an appeal to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and the burden of establishing the facts upon which petitioner seeks relief (8 NYCRR §275.10; Appeal of Brown, 46 Ed Dept Rep 584, Decision No. 15,602; Appeals of Hubbard, 46 id. 533, Decision No. 15,585; Appeal of Darrow, 46 id. 182, Decision No. 15,477).  While petitioner has made vague, general allegations of discrimination, he has produced no evidence to substantiate that discrimination has occurred or that respondent’s denial of his request for a change in pick-up points was discriminatory.

The Commissioner of Education will uphold a district’s transportation determination unless it is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Morgan, 46 Ed Dept Rep 474, Decision No. 15,568; Appeal of Girsdansky, 46 id. 105, Decision No. 15,455).  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 Morgan, 46 Ed Dept Rep 474, Decision No. 15,568; Appeal of Girsdansky, 46 id. 105, Decision No. 15,455). In establishing a pick-up point, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Morgan, 46 Ed Dept Rep 474, Decision No. 15,568; Appeal of Girsdansky, 46 id. 105, Decision No. 15,455; Appeal of Galdun, 45 id. 222, Decision No. 15,307). 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 Girsdansky, 46 Ed Dept Rep 105, Decision No. 15,455). 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 Morgan, 46 Ed Dept Rep 474, Decision No. 15,568; Appeal of Galdun, 45 id. 222, Decision No. 15,307).

The record indicates that petitioner’s request to change his children’s pick-up point was considered by school officials including the assistant superintendent for business, the executive director of operations and the transportation dispatcher.  In addition, both the transportation dispatcher and the executive director of operations personally inspected both the cul-de-sac and the Kingsville Drive locations.  In making the determination regarding the appropriateness of the pick-up point, respondent balanced the factors of safety, convenience, economy and efficiency.  Respondent’s executive director of operations avers that factors considered included that the Kingsville Drive pick-up point is only 800 feet from petitioner’s home and that the road in question is not heavily trafficked.  They also considered the fact that there are no sidewalks or street lighting, which is characteristic of many roads in rural and suburban residential communities.

Respondent’s decision not to change the pick-up point is also consistent with the New York State Education Department, Pupil Transportation Safety Guidance Manual which states in relevant part:  “Cul-de-sacs.  Dead-end streets, loop streets, and cul-de-sacs should be avoided by buses whenever possible.  Forcing a bus driver to back up or maneuver the bus through a restricted space significantly increases the chance of an accident and exposes children in the area to greater risk.  Bus routes for typical students should not go into dead ends in cul-de-sacs unless there is no alternative” (New York State Education Department, Pupil Transportation Safety Guidance Manual Section IV.B.17).  While petitioner argues that this policy doesn’t apply to a small bus and that the district is using a van or small bus to transport his children, in determining a pick-up point, it can not always be assumed that a small bus will be used.  Accordingly, I cannot conclude that respondent’s determination was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE.