Skip to main content

Decision No. 13,530

Appeal of ELISSA BROAD, on behalf of SARAH BROAD AND ILANA BROAD, from action of the Board of Education of the Port Washington Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,530

(January 13, 1996)

Ingerman, Smith, Greenberg, Gross, Richmond, Heidelberger, Reich & Scricca, attorneys for respondent, Lawrence Reich, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner seeks review of the manner in which respondent transports petitioner's daughters to the Solomon Schechter School, a nonpublic school located within 15 miles of her home. The appeal must be dismissed.

In anticipation of her daughters' entry into kindergarten at the Solomon Schechter School in the fall of 1995, petitioner asked respondent for information regarding its plans for the transportation of resident students to nonpublic schools during the 1995-96 school year. On June 29, 1995, respondent wrote to petitioner and outlined the district's nonpublic school bus runs for the 1995-1996 school year. Petitioner, dissatisfied with respondent's proposed transportation plan for her daughters, commenced this appeal.

Petitioner contends that respondent's transportation policy for students attending the Solomon Schechter School is unreasonable and not equivalent to that provided to other pupils in similar circumstances. She alleges that her daughters must take three modes of transportation each morning and each afternoon to get to and from school, i.e., the family car to the children's designated pick-up point, a 16 passenger mini-van to a centralized pick-up point and a bus to the school. She further contends that the total time in transit, which she alleges to be one hour and twenty minutes, is unreasonable. Finally, she contends that the transportation provided to her daughters is not equivalent to that provided to other children attending nonpublic schools in the district, because her daughters must go to a centralized pick-up point and change buses twice a day -- in the morning and in the afternoon.

Respondent contends that its transportation scheme is reasonable and the most cost effective way to transport resident students attending nonpublic schools. Respondent disputes petitioner's assertion that her daughters must spend one hour and twenty minutes on the bus. Respondent notes that its 16 passenger mini-van picks petitioner's daughters up at approximately 7:00 A.M. and that the school bus which transports them from the centralized pick up point to their school arrives at approximately 7:55 A.M., in time to start their school day at 8:10 A.M. The afternoon transportation scheme follows a similar time frame. Respondent further argues that petitioner's decision to transport her daughters by car between her driveway and the bus stop, a total distance of .113 miles, is not relevant to the reasonableness of respondent's transportation scheme. Respondent points out that it has cooperative arrangements with several other public school districts to transport students attending nonpublic schools. This particular route involves the use of respondent's own mini-van to transport students between their bus stop and a centralized pick-up point and the use of another district's bus to transport the students between the centralized pick up point and the Solomon Schechter School. Respondent estimates that the district saves approximately $11,274.00 per school year by transporting students to the Solomon Schechter School via this transportation arrangement.

In accordance with Education Law '3635, a board of education is required to provide transportation to certain students because of the distance between their homes and the schools they legally attend. However, a board of education has broad discretion in determining the manner in which such transportation will be provided (Appeal of Byrne, et al., 34 Ed Dept Rep 389; Appeal of Palyo, 33 id. 169; Appeal of Lavin, 32 id. 249). In making that determination, a board may balance considerations of safety, convenience, efficiency and cost (Appeal of Byrne, et al., supra; Appeal of Eats, 29 Ed Dept Rep 481; Matter 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 Byrne, et al., supra; Appeal of Polifka, 31 Ed Dept Rep 61; Appeal of a Handicapped Child, 25 id. 280). Boards of education are required to provide reasonable transportation services to both public and nonpublic school students in an economical manner. Considerations of economy cannot be ignored (Appeal of Post, 33 Ed Dept Rep 151; Appeal of Stickley, 27 id. 328). Decisions of a board of education concerning transportation will not be overturned unless they are arbitrary, capricious and without a rational basis (Appeal of Byrne, et al., supra; Appeal of Polifka, supra).

In the instant matter, petitioner has failed to show that respondent's transportation scheme is unreasonable. The fact that petitioner's daughters must spend approximately one hour in transit is not a basis for determining that such transportation is improper (Appeal of Byrne, et al., supra; Appeal of Lavin, supra). Likewise, petitioner's argument that respondent has failed to provide equivalent transportation for all resident students attending nonpublic schools is without merit. Respondent has indicated that its cooperative arrangement with several other school districts for the transportation of resident students attending nonpublic schools is the most economical way for it to provide such transportation. Respondent estimates that it saves approximately $11,274.00 each year by transporting its resident nonpublic school students to the Solomon Schechter School in this manner. The fact that respondent uses a variety of means to transport students to and from school (i.e., a single bus, two buses, a mini-van and a bus, etc.) does not necessarily indicate that students are not receiving equal treatment within the meaning of Education Law '3635 (Appeal of Lavin, supra). A board is charged with the responsibility of balancing overall efficiency and economy against the individual interests of students. I am satisfied with respondent's answer concerning the district's cost savings by using the transportation scheme in question and find no evidence of discrimination in the district's delivery of transportation services.

Based on the foregoing, I conclude that respondent's decision in this matter is not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.