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Decision No. 12,962

Appeal of SHIRLEY LEWIS, on behalf of her son MARC, from action of the Board of Education of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District regarding attendance zones.

Decision No. 12,962

(July 22, 1993)

Guercio & Guercio, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Kelly Danielle, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from respondent's denial of her request to have her son, Marc, attend the district's Old Bethpage Elementary School (Bethpage) rather than its Parkway Elementary School (Parkway). The appeal must be dismissed.

In the Fall of 1992, petitioner contacted respondent's superintendent and explained that her son Marc would begin school in the district in the Fall of 1993. Petitioner advised the superintendent that she and her son resided in the Parkway attendance zone but that the child was in the care of a day care provider who resided in the Bethpage attendance zone. Because of the work schedule of petitioner and her husband, and the fact that the child's day care provider resided in the Bethpage attendance zone, petitioner requested an in-district transfer so that her son could attend the Bethpage school instead of the Parkway school. Petitioner also requested transportation to and from the residence of the day care provider. The superintendent informed petitioner that district practice prevented a student in-district transfer based upon the student's day care provider's residence.

By letter dated December 14, 1992 petitioner formally requested an in-district transfer for her son. By letter dated January 5, 1993 the superintendent denied that request. The denial was affirmed by respondent on February 8, 1993. When petitioner was informed of respondent's decision on February 9, 1993, several alternative suggestions were offered to petitioner, including the suggestion that petitioner enroll her son in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Child Care Program. Petitioner rejected those suggestions, and this appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that her request for an in-district transfer to Old Bethpage school should be granted so that her son can be picked up and dropped off by the school bus at the home of the day care provider. She points out that the work hours for both her and her husband prevent them from being available when the bus would transport her son. Respondent maintains that district practice does not permit the enrollment of students in elementary schools outside their attendance zone. Respondent contends that it considered the impact of granting petitioner's request. While respondent sympathizes with petitioner's situation, it notes that it is not uncommon in its district for both parents of a student to be employed outside the home. Respondent further points out that if petitioner's request were granted, respondent would be required to transfer many other students whose day care providers reside in another attendance zone to attend the school where their day care providers reside. Such a situation would place an undue burden upon respondent. Respondent also notes that it is not uncommon for parents to change child care providers. Such a change in day care would impose even greater burdens upon a board of education.

Pursuant to Education Law ''1709(3) and (33), a board of education has the authority and responsibility to manage and administer the affairs of the school district, including the assignment of pupils to schools therein (Matter of Older, et al. v. Board of Ed., 27 NY2d 333). Moreover, in the assignment of pupils to schools, a board of education has broad discretion (Matter of Addabbo v. Donovan, 22 AD2d 383, aff'd 16 NY2d 619, cert den. 382 US 905). Accordingly, decisions with regard to attendance zones will be overturned only when there is a clear showing that the board's action was arbitrary, capricious or contrary to sound educational policy (Appeal of Cullen, 32 Ed Dept Rep 179; Appeal of Goldup, 30 id. 477; Appeal of Hoey, et al., 26 id. 200).

A review of respondent's position on this matter indicates that it made an informed and rational decision. The fact that petitioner may experience some personal inconvenience or hardship, while regrettable, is simply not a basis for overturning the denial of her request for an in-district transfer for her son.