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Decision No. 12,568

Appeal of RHONDA DE WITT, on behalf of her daughter, CAZZIE DE WITT, from action of the board of education of the North Bellmore Union Free School District with regard to transportation.

William H. Englander, P.C., attorney for respondent, Peter G. Albert, Esq., of counsel

Decision No. 12,568

(August 19, 1991)

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from respondent's rejection of her request for transportation of her daughter to South Shore Christian School, a nonpublic school. The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 1990-1991 school year, petitioner's daughter attended the Dinkelmeyer Elementary School, a public school within respondent's district. On or about April 2, 1992, petitioner and her father apparently reached an agreement to enroll petitioner's daughter at the South Shore Christian School in Levittown. On either April 2 or April 8, it appears that petitioner contacted the school by telephone to request transportation, and was advised that the April 1 deadline set forth in Education Law '3635(2) had passed. Petitioner wrote a letter dated April 8, 1991, to the superintendent of schools, in which she admitted that she was "negligent in applying for transportation" and that she was unaware of the April 1 deadline. The superintendent responded with a letter dated April 18, 1991, in which he indicated that the board of education had considered petitioner's written request at its meeting on April 16, and that the request was denied.

Petitioner asserts no reason for failing to file prior to the deadline which can be described as a "reasonable explanation" within the meaning of Education Law '3635(2). Respondent asserts, and the record clearly indicates, that petitioner's request was filed after the deadline. Respondent has also provided, as part of the record, proof that if petitioner's late application had been granted, the district would have incurred additional expense in excess of $2,200 for the 1991-1992 school year.

A board of education may excuse the late filing of a transportation request if a reasonable excuse is presented, but no such excuse was presented here. A board may reasonably conclude that a belated decision to enroll a student in a nonpublic school does not constitute a reasonable excuse (Appeal of Outlaw, 30 Ed Dept Rep 192). Even if no such excuse is present, transportation may not be denied if it can be provided at no additional cost to the district. Because respondent has presented evidence that it would have incurred additional expense, which is not rebutted, petitioner's appeal must fail (Appeal of Brown, 29 id. 274; Appeal of Rugar, 28 id. 159; Appeal of Stein, 25 id. 181).