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Decision No. 13,794

Appeal of THERESA O'CONNELL, on behalf of her daughter, KRISTINA O'CONNELL, from action of the Board of Education of the Webutuck Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,794

(July 24, 1997)

Shaw & Perelson, LLP, attorney for respondents, Margo L. May, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent's denial of her request to change the transportation pick-up point for her daughter, Kristina, and seeks an order directing the relocation of that pick-up point. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner is the parent of Kristina, a fourth grade student in respondent's school district. Prior to the 1996-97 school year, petitioner's daughter was picked up in the driveway of her home. Since Kristina now attends a different school with a different start time, her transportation pick-up point was moved to a location two houses down the road, approximately 239 feet. On September 5, 1996, petitioner sent a letter to respondent concerning the safety of the transportation pick-up point, alleging that it was unsafe for her daughter to walk there. Petitioner's concerns were first addressed by respondent's head bus driver/dispatcher and later by respondent's transportation committee which personally inspected the bus stop. By letter dated September 11, 1996, respondent's district clerk informed petitioner that the designated bus stop would not be changed. This appeal ensued. Petitioner's request for interim relief pending a determination on the merits was denied on November 14, 1996.

Petitioner alleges that the existing bus stop is unsafe for her daughter and seeks to have the transportation pick-up point reinstated at her home. Respondent contends that its refusal to change the current bus stop site was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable and should not be reversed. Respondent also contends that the petition fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

A board of education may exercise its discretion when designating pick-up points (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). The law does not require a school district to provide transportation for the pupil directly to and from his home (Ossant v. Millard, 72 Misc. 2d 384, 339 NYS 2d 163). In establishing pick-up points, 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).

Petitioner alleges that the existing pick-up point is hazardous for her child because of the narrowness of the road shoulder her daughter must traverse to reach the pick-up point, the distance of the walk from her home to the pick-up point as well as unsafe traffic conditions that exist on a heavily travelled road.

Respondent correctly notes that decisions of the Commissioner of Education have often stated that pick-up points in rural and suburban areas require children to travel on narrow roadways, on busy roads or in inclement weather (Appeal of Pauldine, 35 Ed Dept Rep 54; Appeal of Kraciunas, 35 id. 107; Appeal of Behan, 34 id. 368; Appeal of Mechanick, 33 id. 692). Furthermore, respondent contends that a student's parents are responsible for their child's safe transportation to and from a designated pick-up point. Where a student's home is on a dangerous road or at a remote location, the parents are not free from an obligation to assist the student in reaching school or a bus pick-up point (Matter of Roach, 25 Ed Dept Rep 253). It is the responsibility of the parents, and not the district, to see that their child safely reaches the pick-up point (Pratt v. Robinson, 39 NY2d 554, 384 NYS2d 749; Appeal of Waklatsi, 33 Ed Dept Rep 552; Appeal of Fausel, 30 id. 395; Appeal of Klein, 27 id. 76).

The record demonstrates that respondent considered petitioner's request for a change in her daughter's pick-up point. It examined petitioner's request, measured the distance between bus stops, visited and inspected the site and reviewed the safety factors. In its review, respondent determined that the existing bus stop was safe and within the parameters of respondent's policy. Although petitioner submits a letter from the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office concerning auto accidents in the area, that letter only indicates that nine motor vehicle accidents occurred on the road between the period March 1995 to June 1996 and does not describe the nature of the accidents or opine that the road is unsafe or dangerous.

While I am sympathetic to petitioner's concerns about her daughter's safety, it is the responsibility of a student's parents, and not the school district, to ensure the student's safety in travelling to and from the designated transportation pick-up point.

My review of the record indicates that respondent's determination regarding the pick-up point was neither arbitrary, unreasonable nor capricious.

I have considered the parties' remaining contentions and find them without merit.