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Decision No. 13,901

Appeal of JUDITH MOGILSKI, on behalf of SHANNON MOGILSKI, from action of the Board of Education of the Roslyn Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,901

(March 30, 1998)

Jaspan Schlesinger Silverman & Hoffman, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Lawrence J. Tenenbaum, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Roslyn Union Free School District ("respondent") denying her request to transport her daughter, Shannon, to a nonpublic school. The appeal must be dismissed.

On April 5, 1997, petitioner moved to 117 St Marks Place within the Roslyn Union Free School District. On August 18, 1997, petitioner requested, in writing, that respondent transport Shannon to the Notre Dame School in New Hyde Park for the 1997-98 school year. According to petitioner, Shannon has attended Notre Dame for the past three years.

On August 25, 1997, the superintendent denied petitioner’s request as untimely. Thereafter, petitioner appealed to respondent board, citing, as the reasons for the late filing, her ignorance of the statutory deadlines, her April 5, 1997 relocation and job change and consequent inability to transport her daughter to school. By letter dated September 19, 1997, respondent denied petitioner’s request as untimely and because the requested transportation would result in an additional cost to the school district. This appeal ensued.

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 being requested, provided, however, that a parent of a child not residing in the district on April 1 shall submit a written request within thirty days after establishing residency in the district. The purpose of this deadline is to enable school districts to budget funds and make necessary arrangements to provide transportation reasonably and economically (Appeal ofHaque, 34 Ed Dept Rep 496; Appeal of Somer, 34 id. 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). 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 Ragot, 35 Ed Dept Rep 299; Appealof Rugar, supra), and 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).

Petitioner, by her own admission, established a residence in the district on April 5, 1997. Accordingly, her application for transportation should have been submitted no later than May 5, 1997. Petitioner’s explanation for the four-month delay is that she was not aware of the deadline. However, a board of education need not accept ignorance of the filing requirement as a reasonable excuse for failure to file a timely transportation request (Appeal of Haque, 34 Ed Dept Rep 496; (Appeal of DeWitt, 31 id. 60; Appeal of Halsdorf andMcClenahan, 30 id. 268). Moreover, where, as here, a child is previously enrolled in a nonpublic school, the petitioner is presumed to know of the April 1 deadline (Appeal of Williams, 33 Ed Dept Rep 137, 138).

Petitioner also maintains that she is entitled to the requested transportation because she is currently employed and, consequently, is not available to transport her daughter to school. However, inconvenience is not a basis for granting transportation to someone who is otherwise ineligible (Appeal of McNair, supra).

Even absent a reasonable explanation for delay, a late request must be granted if the 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). The record reveals that the district would incur an additional expense of $2,142.00 to transport petitioner’s daughter to the nonpublic school, inasmuch as respondent contracts for transportation on a per pupil basis. The law is clear: the district is not required to incur any additional expense to transport petitioner’s daughter under these circumstances (see, Appeal of Brown, 29 Ed Dept Rep 274; Appeal of Rugar, 28 id. 159; Matter ofGrimaldi, 26 id. 261). Consequently, I conclude that respondent has not abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s late transportation request.