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Decision No. 13,532

Appeal of RAYMOND and MARGO RAMSEY, on behalf of their daughter, CATHERINE RAMSEY, from action of the Board of Education of the Beacon City School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,532

(January 17, 1996)

Shaw & Perelson, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Margo L. May, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal a decision of the Board of Education of the Beacon City School District ("respondent") denying transportation to their daughter, Catherine. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners requested bus transportation for their daughter between St. John's Primary School, where she attended third grade in the 1994-95 school year, and St. Joachim's Middle School, where she currently attends fourth grade -- an alleged distance of 1.3 miles. They contend that other students who live within the district, specifically those attending the Glenham School, are transported shorter distances from home to school. Respondent denied the request and this appeal ensued.

Respondent maintains that its transportation policy complies with Education Law. Respondent provides transportation for pupils residing outside the city limits, up to a distance of 20 miles, and for pupils residing within the district who live more than 1 1/2 miles, but not more than 20 miles, from the school they attend. It also contends that if it transports Catherine to the school she attends (which is less than 1 1/2 miles from her home), it would be required to transport all students who live the same distance from the schools they attend, at an estimated annual cost of between $300,000 and $500,000.

The Beacon City School District is organized as an "enlarged city school district" encompassing geographic areas outside the city limits. Education Law '2503(12) governs pupil transportation in enlarged city school districts, stating that the board of education must provide transportation to and from school "to children residing outside the city limits and may, in its discretion, provide transportation for children residing within the city limits." Also, school districts which elect to provide transportation that is not statutorily required must offer the transportation equally to all children in like circumstances residing within the district (Education Law '3635(1)). Distances are measured "by the nearest available route from home to school" (id.).

Petitioners' appeal must be dismissed because their daughter is not entitled to the transportation requested. Petitioners do not deny that their daughter resides within the city limits nor that she lives less than 1 1/2 miles from the school she attends. Therefore, based on respondent's transportation policy, as a city resident living within 1 1/2 miles of her school, she is not entitled to transportation. Furthermore, respondent's transportation of students residing outside the city limits, which is consistent with Education Law '2503(12), does not require it to provide equivalent transportation for students residing within the city limits.