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Decision No. 13,870

Appeal of MARYBETH LAWLESS, on behalf of her son, SEAN PATRICK LAWLESS, from action of the Board of Education of the Amityville Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,870

(February 13, 1998)

Van Nostrand & Martin, attorneys for respondent, LeRoy Van Nostrand, Jr., Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Amityville Union Free School District ("respondent") to deny her son transportation services to a nonpublic school. The appeal must be dismissed.

On May 15, 1997, petitioner requested transportation for her son to a nonpublic school for the 1997-98 school year. Respondent denied petitioner's request on June 18, 1997 as untimely and because it would result in additional costs to the district. This appeal followed.

Pursuant to Education Law "3635(2), a request for transportation to a nonpublic school must be submitted no later than the first day of April preceding the school year for which such transportation is requested. The purpose of this deadline is to enable school districts to budget the funds and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation reasonably and economically (Appeal of Somer, 34 Ed Dept Rep 16; Appeal of McNair, 33 id. 418). However, a district may not reject a late request for transportation if there is a reasonable explanation for the delay (Education Law "3635(2); Appeal of Somer, supra; Appeal of Nolan, 32 Ed Dept Rep 352; Appeal of Rugar, 28 id. 159). Even in the absence of a reasonable explanation for delay, a late transportation request must be granted if the requested transportation can be provided under existing transportation arrangements at no additional cost to the district (Appeal of Young, 34 Ed Dept Rep 350; Appeal of Somer, supra; Appeal of Nolan, supra). It is the responsibility of the board of education in the first instance to determine whether a parent has offered a reasonable explanation for submitting a late request (Appeal of Rugar, supra). The board's determination will not be set aside unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Somer, supra; Appeal of Block, 28 Ed Dept Rep 308; Matter of Wybinow, 22 id. 390).

In this case, petitioner filed her transportation request beyond the April 1st deadline. Because petitioner does not dispute that providing transportation to her son as requested will require respondent to expend an additional $131.98 per month, her request must be denied unless a reasonable explanation for her late request has been offered. Respondent concluded that petitioner's explanation for the delay – a change of plans to transport her son due to her unforeseen illness diagnosed March 28, 1997, requiring her to undergo surgery, extensive treatment and medical disability leave from employment – was not reasonable.

While petitioner contends that her illness and resulting need to receive medical disability has caused hardship for the family, she does not specify the nature of the hardship. It has previously been determined that inconvenience is not a basis for granting transportation to someone who is otherwise ineligible (Appeal of McNair, supra; Appeal of Kluge, 31 Ed Dept Rep 107; Appeal of Nevin, 25 id. 86; Nevin v. Ambach, et al., Supreme Court, Albany County, February 26, 1986, Bradley, J.; Appeal of Eberhardt, 25 id. 263).

Based on the foregoing, I conclude that respondent has not abused its discretion in denying petitioner's late transportation request.