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Decision No. 13,361

Appeal of RICK AND PATTI ICENOGLE, on behalf of their children, from action of the Board of Education of the Whitney Point Central School District relating to transportation.

Decision No. 13,361

(February 16, 1995)

Coughlin & Gerhart, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Frank W. Miller, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal respondent's refusal to change the transportation pickup point for their children and seek an order directing that the pickup point be located at their residence. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners moved into their newly constructed home on July 23, 1994 and subsequently requested transportation for their children to attend respondent's schools. Petitioners reside on Marks Road, approximately 300 feet from the intersection of Marks Road and Mt. Hunger Road. By letter dated August 31, 1994, respondent informed petitioners that it would provide transportation for their children from the intersection of Marks and Mt. Hunger Roads. When respondent refused petitioners' request to transport their children from their residence on Marks Road, this appeal ensued.

In designating pickup points, a board of education may exercise its discretion (Appeal of Guido, 33 Ed Dept Rep 244; Appeal of Klein, 27 id. 76; Appeal of Bohonyi, 26 id. 363), provided that the board uses care in exercising such discretion (Appeal of Klein, supra; Appeal of Bohonyi, supra; Appeal of Scheinberg, 21 Ed Dept Rep 32). In establishing a pickup point, a board of education must consider and balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Donk, et al., 27 Ed Dept Rep 254; Appeal of Taylor, 26 id. 255).

Petitioners contend that the current pickup point is unsafe and hazardous because it is located at the crest of a hill where visibility is limited. The record indicates that before establishing the current pickup point, school officials viewed the area, considered safety factors, including traffic and related hazards, and concluded that the pickup point was appropriate, taking into account safety, convenience, routing efficiency and cost. When petitioners raised objections to the site, the area was also viewed by the superintendent, the director of transportation and each member of the board. Information supplied by the New York State Police and the Broome County Sheriff's Department indicates that those agencies have no records of automobile accidents or personal injuries occurring at that location. Based on the above, respondent elected not to change the pickup point.

The record demonstrates that respondent has considered pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs in establishing its current transportation plan. Respondent correctly notes that, except in very limited circumstances not presented by this case, it is not obligated to provide door-to-door transportation between home and school (Appeal of Waklatsi, 33 Ed Dept Rep 552; Appeal of Lavin, 32 id. 249). In addition, the Courts have held that it is the responsibility of the parents, and not the district, to see that their children safely reach the pickup point (Pratt v. Robinson, 39 NY2d 554; Appeal of Fausel, 30 Ed Dept Rep 395; Appeal of Klein, supra). While I sympathize with petitioner's concerns for their children, there is no basis for me to overturn respondent's decision. Indeed, the factors petitioners raise -- that the pickup point is located on a highway intersection and at the crest of a hill -- are identical to the characteristics of many pickup points in rural or suburban areas, and are not, in and of themselves, a basis for deeming the current pickup point unsafe.

I note that petitioners request that their children be picked up at their home on Marks Road. Petitioners contend that their children should not be required to walk approximately 300 feet along Marks Road from their home to the intersection of that road and Mt. Hunger Road because:

Marks Road has two hazardous conditions, a nine degree slope and a blind knoll entering the intersection ... During winter months vehicles often can't make it up Marks Road and have to back down to [the] intersection. During any year we have seen vehicles in either ditch or off into the field below.

That contention is rejected. As pointed out by respondent, petitioners' allegations regarding the hazards on Marks Road provide a basis for denying their request. Legitimate concerns regarding the safety of individuals on a school bus support respondent's decision not to send a school bus onto Marks Road in the vicinity of petitioners' residence.