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Decision No. 13,350

Appeal of JUANITA VENTURA from action of the Board of Education of the Hempstead Union Free School District relating to transportation.

Decision No. 13,350

(January 30, 1995)

Berkman, Henoch, Peterson & Peddy, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Gilbert Henoch, Esq.,

of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent's refusal to transport her son between home and a nonpublic school during the 1994-95 school year. The appeal must be sustained.

On or about April 18, 1994, petitioner, on behalf of her son, applied for transportation services to a nonpublic school. Accompanying that application was a statement, in Spanish, explaining that petitioner misplaced the application and forgot to deliver it before April 1st. On June 30, 1994, respondent rejected the application.

Petitioner concedes that her application was late, but maintains that she was physically incapacitated and unable to file the application on time. Respondent disputes petitioner's claim, relying principally on petitioner's initial statement which accompanied her application: that she had merely forgotten to file the application on time.

Pursuant to Education Law '3635, requests for transportation must be submitted to the district in writing on or before April 1 preceding the commencement of the school year for which transportation is requested, provided that no late request for transportation may be denied where there is a reasonable explanation for the delay (Appeal of Lovascio, 31 Ed Dept Rep 75; Appeal of Rugar, 28 id. 159). The board of education is initially responsible for determining the reasonableness of a particular explanation, and its determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Halsdorf and McClenahan, 30 Ed Dept Rep 268).

Moreover, a late request must be granted, even in the absence of a reasonable explanation, if the requested transportation can be provided under existing transportation arrangements at no extra expense to the school district (Appeal of Lovascio, supra; Appeal of Ward, 29 Ed Dept Rep 153; Matter of Cronkrite, 24 id. 331). This is especially true when, as here, the school district admits that it will incur no additional cost in providing the requested transportation, and no additional late requests have been filed (Matter of VanEgghen, 19 Ed Dept Rep 392). Because respondent would not incur any additional expense in providing the requested transportation, I will not address the parties' remaining contentions.