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Decision No. 13,680

Appeal of LUCINDA MARSH, on behalf of her daughter, SAMANTHA MARSH, from action of the Board of Education of the Randolph Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,680

(September 27, 1996)

Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods & Goodyear, Esqs., attorneys for

respondent, David A. Farmelo, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Education of the Randolph Central School District ("respondent") to change the transportation pick-up point for her daughter. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides on Mud Creek Road, approximately .2 miles from that road's intersection with Page Road, a main route in respondent's district. The intersection is the designated pick-up point for petitioner's daughter.

On September 20, 1995 petitioner requested that respondent change the pick-up point to her residence, as her daughter was the only child on Mud Creek Road receiving transportation. In support of her request, petitioner observed that the current pick-up point is at the bottom of a steep hill, with a ditch running along the side of the road. She also stated that there are no sidewalks, lights or signs on Mud Creek Road, and the speed limit is 55 m.p.h. Petitioner also reasoned that because her daughter has only one kidney, the walk to the pick-up point presents an increased risk in the event of an accident. Petitioner stated that, therefore, she believed the designated pick-up point is hazardous and requested it be changed.

Upon receipt of petitioner's request, district officials examined the location of the designated pick-up point. After reviewing its transportation policy, respondent denied petitioner's request by letter dated October 4, 1995.

Respondent's transportation policy provides, "Pupils will be transported who live more than 4/10 miles from school. This walking distance policy will be applied for spur routes (side roads to the main bus route)." Thus, pupils living less than .4 miles from the main road are picked up at the main road.

Petitioner alleges that the current pick-up point is hazardous for her daughter. Petitioner also alleges that at least one other child in the district who lives .6 miles on another side road is being provided transportation. Respondent asserts that petitioner's daughter is being provided transportation in accordance with its transportation policy. Respondent also alleges that the policy is reasonable and that granting petitioner's request would result in additional cost to the district. Respondent further denies that ineligible children are being provided transportation in contravention of its policy.

The appeal must be dismissed. A board of education may exercise its discretion in designating pick-up points (Appeal of Guido, 33 Ed Dept Rep 244; Appeal of Klein, 27 id. 76; Appeal of Bohonyi, 26 id. 363; Appeal of Taylor, 26 id. 255), 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 pick-up point, a board of education must consider and balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Krauciunas, 35 Ed Dept Rep 107; Appeal of Donk, et al., 27 id. 254; Appeal of Taylor, supra). Moreover, Education Law '3635 does not require door-to-door transportation, and boards of education have discretion to require students to walk to pick-up points from which transportation will be provided (Appeal of Mechanick, et al., 33 Ed Dept Rep 692; Appeal of Jansen, 29 id. 402).

While petitioner's concern for the safety of her daughter is understandable, her contention that the location of the pick-up point is unsafe is inadequately supported. Indeed, the factors petitioner raises - that the pick-up point is at the bottom of a hill along a ditch and requires her daughter to travel on a roadway which is unlit, has no sidewalk and a 55 m.p.h. speed limit - are identical to the characteristics of many of the areas in respondent's district, as well as other rural and suburban areas, and are not, in and of themselves, a basis for deeming the current pick-up point unsafe (Appeal of Krauciunas, supra; Appeal of Icenogle, 34 Ed Dept Rep 406; Appeal of Jett, 33 id. 446).

Petitioner's claims with respect to her daughter's physical condition do not render the pick-up point unsafe. Specifically, I note that petitioner does not assert that her daughter is physically unable to walk to the pick-up point or is otherwise unable to be transported in the same manner as other pupils in the district. Nor does petitioner provide any evidence to support her contention that respondents are treating her daughter inequitably. In fact, the record indicates that another student who lives on a side road .6 miles from the main road is also required to walk .2 miles to his pick-up point.

The record demonstrates that respondent considered pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs in establishing its current transportation plan. In addition, the district's superintendent of schools inspected the pick-up point and found no hazard. In view of these considerations, and in the absence of any evidence that the present pick-up point is unsafe, petitioner has failed to demonstrate that respondent acted arbitrarily or capriciously when it refused to change the pick-up point for petitioner's daughter.