Skip to main content

Search Google Appliance

Search Google Appliance

Decision No. 16,120

Appeal of PAMELA ABRAMS, on behalf of her children JESSICA and ANDREW, from action of the Board of Education of the Miller Place Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 16,120

(August 4, 2010)

Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., attorneys for petitioner, Andrew J. Turro, Esq., of counsel

Guercio & Guercio, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Kathryn J. Maier, Esq., of counsel

STEINER, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Miller Place Union Free School District (“respondent”) to deny her children transportation to a nonpublic school for the 2010-2011 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

By letter dated April 16, 2010, petitioner requested transportation to a nonpublic school for her two children for the 2010-2011 school year.  In early May, respondent’s deputy superintendent advised petitioner that her request was denied because it was not submitted before the April 1 deadline for transportation requests.  The deputy superintendent further explained that the district would incur an additional expense if the request were granted.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner argues that her transportation request was submitted late due to family medical reasons.  She also argues that the district failed to notify her of the April 1 deadline.  Petitioner also alleges that respondent transports other children to a nearby parochial school and that there are empty seats on that bus for her children. 

Respondent contends that petitioner’s transportation request was untimely and she failed to provide a reasonable explanation for the delay.  Therefore, respondent maintains that its decision to deny petitioner’s request was reasonable.  Respondent further alleges that it would incur additional costs to transport petitioner’s children to the nonpublic school. 

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 Capeling, 46 Ed Dept Rep 400, Decision No. 15,545; Appeal of Ghaffar, 46 id. 332; Decision No. 15,524; Appeal of Delaney, 46 id. 253, Decision No. 15,498).  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 Capeling, 46 Ed Dept Rep 400, Decision No. 15,545).  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 Ghaffar, 46 Ed Dept Rep 332; Decision No. 15,524; Appeal of Delaney, 46 id. 253, Decision No. 15,498).  The board’s determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Capeling, 46 Ed Dept Rep 400, Decision No. 15,545; Appeal of Ghaffar, 46 id. 332; Decision No. 15,524; Appeal of Delaney, 46 id. 253, Decision No. 15,498).

Petitioner admits that she did not submit a timely request for transportation.  Petitioner argues that her father became ill in February 2010 which required his hospitalization and surgery in late March 2010.  While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s personal circumstances, it was ultimately her responsibility to submit a timely request for transportation (seee.g.Appeal of Haiimpour, 47 Ed Dept Rep 46, Decision No. 15,621; Appeal of Vigliotta, 40 id. 344, Decision No. 14,493).  Missing the transportation deadline for the reasons stated is not a basis for excusing her failure to make a timely transportation request (Appeal of S.W. and D.W., 49 Ed Dept Rep 67, Decision No. 15,960; Appeal of Haiimpour, 47 id. 46, Decision No. 15,621; Appeal of Abbadessa, 47 id. 158, Decision No. 15,657).  Petitioner became aware of her father’s diagnosis over a month before the deadline and while her concern with her father’s illness is understandable, she could have filed a timely request prior to the deadline (seee.g.Appeal of S.W. and D.W., 49 Ed Dept Rep 67, Decision No. 15,960; Appeal of Haiimpour, 47 id. 46, Decision No. 15,621; Appeal of Shevlin, 38 id. 365, Decision No. 14,056).  On the record before me, therefore, I cannot find that respondent abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s late request.

Petitioner also asserts that she was unaware of the deadline and that the district failed to notify her of the deadline.  A board of education need not accept ignorance of the April 1 deadline as a reasonable excuse for failure to file a timely transportation request (Appeal of Ghaffar, 46 id. 332; Decision No. 15,524; Appeal of Delaney, 46 id. 253, Decision No. 15,498; Appeal of Thomas, 45 id. 528, Decision No. 15,405).  Accordingly, petitioner’s ignorance of the filing requirement does not excuse her failure to file a timely request.  Moreover, the record demonstrates that petitioner submitted a timely transportation request for the previous school year and that respondent published notice of the April 1 deadline on the transportation page of the district’s website and placed a notice in the local newspaper.  In addition, respondent provided personal notice of the transportation deadline to petitioner by letter dated January 2010.  Accordingly, I find no merit to petitioner’s complaints regarding notice.

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 Meyerson, 46 Ed Dept Rep 421, Decision No. 15,552; Appeal of Capeling, 46 id. 400, Decision No. 15,545; Appeal of Ghaffar, 46 id. 332, Decision No. 15,524).  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 (Appeal of Capeling, 46 Ed Dept Rep 400, Decision No. 15,545; Appeal of Ghaffar, 46 id. 332, Decision No. 15,524; Appeal of Vasilakos, 46 id. 129, Decision No. 15,463).

While petitioner claims that there are empty seats on an existing bus route, respondent alleges that the district contracts for private school transportation on a per-school basis and would incur an additional expense of $40,731.00 to transport petitioner’s children to their nonpublic school for the 2010-2011 school year since they are the only two students currently attending this school.  Petitioner has failed to refute respondent’s contention.  Under these circumstances, I conclude that respondent has not abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s late transportation request (seeAppeal of Vasilakos, 46 Ed Dept Rep 129, Decision No. 15,463; Appeal of S.M., 44 id. 391, Decision No. 15,208; Appeal of Joanne M., 40 id. 686, Decision No. 14,584).

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions. 

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE.