Skip to main content

Decision No. 13,907

Appeal of DORIS WARNER, on behalf of her son, KENNETH HOWLEY, from action by the Board of Education of the Margaretville Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 13,907

(April 1, 1998)

Victor M. DeBonis, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the denial by the Board of Education of the Margaretville Central School District ("respondent") of her request to provide transportation services on Canada Hollow Road in Andes, New York. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner alleges that the district provided bus transportation to Canada Hollow Road for more than thirty years, until December 1995 when another student living on the road left the area. When petitioner moved to Canada Hollow Road in March 1997, she requested similar transportation services along the road for her son. Respondent's superintendent denied petitioner's request and instead established a pick-up point for her son on State Route 28 at its intersection with Canada Hollow Road, approximately 3 miles from petitioner’s home. Petitioner appealed this determination to respondent.

On May 29, 1997, the superintendent, board president and head bus driver visited the intersection site with a consultant for the district, Glen George, a retired traffic accident investigator for the New York State Police with more than 20 years of experience. Measurements were taken of the line of site from a blind turn on Route 28 to the intersection as well as the widths of Route 28 and Canada Hollow Road. Using formulas customarily used by the State Police, Mr. George determined that a car travelling 55 miles per hour ("mph") on Route 28 would require 177 feet under dry road conditions to come to a full stop at the intersection, and 222 feet under wet road conditions. However, the line of sight for a vehicle coming around the blind turn on Route 28 to see a vehicle entering Route 28 from Canada Hollow Road was only 187 feet. Mr. George also determined, after measuring the width of Canada Hollow Road, that the road did not provide sufficient space for two vehicles to pass safely. Driving tests further showed that a school bus could not exit Canada Hollow Road and turn right onto Route 28 toward Margaretville without crossing the centerline on the blind turn. On the basis of these observations, the volume of traffic monitored on Route 28, and the data provided by Mr. George, respondent denied petitioner’s appeal. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that respondent’s safety investigation was flawed, because the speed limit on this section of Route 28 is clearly posted as 30 mph and Mr. George improperly calculated the sight line distance based upon stopping distances for a vehicle traveling 55 mph. Petitioner also states that information obtained from the State Police discloses no history of vehicle/vehicle accidents at this intersection over the last four years. Petitioner additionally argues that respondent’s concern about buses making a right-hand turn off Canada Hollow Road onto Route 28 is misplaced, because the bus could simply make a left turn onto Route 28 and continue on to a U-turn that is currently in use. Petitioner further notes that transportation is still being provided to Close Hollow Road, which is even narrower than Canada Hollow Road. Petitioner complains that her son now must travel three miles to the pick-up point, and that the bus stops on Route 28 in the middle of the intersection to board and discharge him.

Respondent denies petitioner’s claims, and states that, prior to petitioner’s application for transportation, it had already reviewed the safety and efficiency of the previous pick-up on Canada Hollow Road and decided to discontinue transportation on the road. When considering petitioner’s appeal, respondent also obtained an expert analysis of safety conditions at the intersection, which formed the basis for its denial of petitioner’s appeal.

The appeal must be dismissed. A board of education may exercise its discretion when designating pick-up points (Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, 37 Ed Dept Rep 83; Appeal of Heuser, 36 id. 368; Appeal of Guido, 33 id. 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 Rheaume-Wellenc, supra; Appeal of Klein, 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 (Education Law "3635; Ossant v. Millard, 72 Misc. 2d 384, 339 N.Y.S.2d 163 (1972); Appeal of O’Connell, 37 Ed Dept Rep 22). 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 Marsh, 36 Ed Dept Rep 134; Appeal of Donk, et al, 27 id. 254; Appeal of Taylor, 26 id. 255). 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 (Appeal of Kaufman, 36 Ed Dept Rep 45; Appeal of Roach, 25 id. 253). It is the responsibility of the parents, not the district, to see that their child safely reaches the pick-up point (Pratt v. Robinson, 39 N.Y.2d 554, 384 N.Y.S.2d 749, 349 N.E.2d 849 (1976); Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, supra; Appeal of Pauldine, 35 Ed Dept Rep 54).

The record demonstrates that respondent considered petitioner’s request, visited and inspected the site, and adequately considered the safety factors. The board properly considered the expert opinion of Mr. George, who provided explicit, documented reasons for his conclusion that it would be unreasonably dangerous to require respondent to provide transportation along Canada Hollow Road which would necessitate a dangerous turn onto Route 28. Specifically, Mr. George concluded that there were foreseeable conditions under which the total stopping distance from the blind turn to the intersection would be greater than the line of sight to the intersection, creating a potentially dangerous situation. The line of sight was analyzed using a speed of 55 mph because that is the posted speed limit on Route 28, although there is an advisory speed of 30 mph posted at the intersection. Mr. George further concluded that the dangerous nature of the intersection was exacerbated by the width of the roads and the angle at which the roads intersect. It was impossible for a vehicle with a turning radius of 11 feet or greater (which would include even the average passenger car) to make a right turn onto Route 28 without encroaching into the oncoming traffic lane on Route 28. The available stopping space for oncoming traffic would also be diminished because the turning vehicle would be accelerating. Respondent additionally stated that it intended to discontinue transportation on Close Hollow Road as of September 1997 if the Town of Andes did not adequately address the board’s safety concerns about the road.

Petitioner fails to present sufficient evidence to rebut Mr. George’s conclusions. There is nothing in the record to show that it was unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious for the board to determine that a pick-up point on Route 28 was more consistent with student safety than requiring a bus to traverse Canada Hollow Road. Accordingly, the appeal must be dismissed.