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Decision No. 13,355

Appeal of DIANE R. BYRNE, JUDITH TOBIA and SHELLY RAFUS, on behalf of their children, from action of the Board of Trustees of the Edinburg Common School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,355

(February 9, 1995)

Ruberti, Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Jeffrey D. Honeywell, Esq. of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal respondent's transportation schedule for petitioners' children. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners reside on either South Shore Road or Gordon Road in the Edinburg Common School District. At the start of the 1994-95 school year, respondent notified petitioners of the times their children would be transported to and from school.

Petitioners contend that respondent's transportation system is unfair because, even though their children are among the first students picked up by the bus in the morning, they are among the last dropped off at home in the afternoon. Petitioners contend that respondent must employ a "first on, first off" transportation system.

Under Education Law '3635, a board of education is required to provide transportation to certain students because of the distance between their home and the school they attend. However, a board of education has broad discretion to determine how such transportation will be provided (Appeal of Palyo, 33 Ed Dept Rep 169; Appeal of Lavin, 32 id. 249). In making that determination, a board may balance considerations of safety, convenience, efficiency and cost (Appeal of Eats, 29 Ed Dept Rep 481; Appeal of Horschel, 24 id. 94). Moreover, a board of education has both the responsibility and the authority to decide difficult questions in balancing the overall efficiency and economy of a transportation system against the convenience of individual students (Appeal of Polifka, 31 Ed Dept Rep 61; Appeal of a Handicapped Child, 25 id. 280; Matter of McBennett, 17 id. 404). Such decisions will not be overturned unless they are arbitrary, capricious and without a rational basis (Appeal of Polifka, supra).

In the present matter, petitioners have failed to show that respondent acted unreasonably. The record indicates that prior to the start of the 1994-95 school year, respondent's superintendent and transportation coordinator reviewed petitioners' bus route to determine if it was efficient and safe. Respondent established the route challenged by petitioners only after considering the number of students to be served, the geography involved and a route efficiency guideline published by the Madison-Oneida Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The record further demonstrates that while this route may inconvenience petitioners, it addresses respondent's legitimate safety concerns for all riders and minimizes the travel time for the greatest number of students involved.

Petitioners' children spend approximately 50 minutes on the bus in the morning and 35 minutes on the bus in the afternoon. Given the size, geography and rural nature of the district, I do not conclude that this is an excessive time in transit (seeAppeal of Lavin, supra; Appeal of Capozza, 25 id. 15; Matter of Rouis, 20 id. 493).

Based on the foregoing, I conclude that respondent's decision in this matter is not arbitrary, capricious or without a rational basis.