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Decision No. 13,346

Appeal of TIL and GERALDINE GALVANI, on behalf of JEFFREY GALVANI, from action of the Board of Education of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,346

(January 25, 1995)

Capell & Vishnick, Esqs., attorneys for petitioners, Bernard F. McGovern, Esq. of counsel

Ingerman, Smith, Greenberg, Gross, Richmond, Heidelberger, Reich & Scricca, Esqs.,

attorneys for respondent, Lawrence W. Reich, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the refusal by the Board of Education of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District ("respondent") to transport their son to a nonpublic school. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners' son, Jeffrey, attended the ninth grade at a nonpublic high school during the 1993-94 school year. Prior to April 1, 1994, petitioners filed a timely request for respondent to transport Jeffrey to that school during the 1994-95 school year. Petitioners assert that subsequent to their request, Jeffrey experienced psychological problems which required counseling. That counseling began on April 4, 1994. Although the record is unclear, it appears that petitioners, in consultation with Jeffrey's psychologists, decided that a change of schools would benefit Jeffrey. Petitioners applied and Jeffrey was accepted at a second nonpublic school. Accordingly, on or about August 17, 1994, petitioners requested a change in transportation to the second nonpublic school. Respondent denied that request. This appeal ensued.

Education Law '3635(2) requires the submission of requests for transportation to nonpublic schools by April 1 of the year prior to the school year for which transportation is sought. This enables school districts to budget the necessary funds for transportation and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation in a reasonable and economical manner. A board of education may be required to provide transportation in response to a request submitted after the April 1 deadline if a reasonable explanation is offered for the delay or if the requested transportation can be provided under existing arrangements at no additional cost to the school district (Appeal of McNair, 33 Ed Dept Rep 418; Appeal of Monreal, 25 id. 225). A board of education has broad discretion to determine the sufficiency of late transportation requests and such determinations will not be set aside absent a showing that a board abused its discretion (Appeal of McNair, supra; Appeal of Nolan, 32 Ed Dept Rep 352). Petitioners do not dispute respondent's assertion that providing the requested transportation for Jeffrey will result in the incursion of additional costs by the district. Therefore, petitioners' request for transportation must be denied unless a reasonable explanation for their late request has been offered.

Petitioners assert that they were unaware of Jeffrey's difficulties until after the April 1 deadline. Nonetheless, a belated decision to enroll a student in a nonpublic school does not constitute a reasonable excuse for the failure to submit a timely transportation request (Appeal of McNair, supra; Appeal of Stephens, 26 Ed Dept Rep 434; Appeal of Bail, 25 id. 95). This is true even in the case where the particular abilities of a child have not been evaluated until after the April 1 deadline (Appeal of McNair, supra; Matter of Fendelman, 16 Ed Dept Rep 23). Based on the foregoing, I cannot conclude that respondent has abused its discretion by denying petitioner's late transportation request.

I have considered petitioners' remaining contentions and find them without merit.