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Decision No. 14,036

Appeal of GAIL STAMLER from action of the Board of Education of the Fire Island Union Free School District, relating to transportation to summer school.

Decision No. 14,036

(November 23, 1998)

Levenbron & Stern, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Kenneth J. Stern, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent’s refusal to transport her daughter to a summer school program during the summer of 1996. The appeal must be dismissed.

By letter dated June 18, 1996, respondent’s superintendent notified petitioner, a resident of the Fire Island Union Free School District ("district"), that the district would pay tuition for her daughter to attend summer school in the Bay Shore Union Free School District. In the same letter, the superintendent also informed petitioner that the district does not provide transportation for any students attending summer school.

Petitioner served the petition in this appeal on June 3, 1997. In her petition she contends that her daughter was entitled to free transportation to summer school, and she seeks reimbursement for the cost of transporting her daughter to school during the summer of 1996.

Respondent contends that the appeal is untimely and that it acted within its discretion in not transporting petitioner’s daughter to summer school.

An appeal to the Commissioner of Education must be commenced within thirty days of the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of, except for good cause shown (8 NYCRR 275.16). Having served her petition almost a year after the decision she is challenging, petitioner clearly failed to commence this appeal in a timely manner. In her reply, she argues that she was unaware of the appeal process until the time in which to commence an appeal had elapsed. It is well settled, however, that in the absence of unusual circumstances, ignorance of the appeal process is not a sufficient basis to excuse a delay in commencing an appeal (Appeal of Loweth, 37 Ed Dept Rep 443; Appeal of A.B., 36 id. 155). I find no circumstances in this case which would excuse a delay of almost a year in commencing this appeal. Accordingly, the appeal must be dismissed as untimely.

The appeal must also be dismissed on the merits. In Matter of Roman and Battle, 14 Ed Dept Rep 247, Commissioner Nyquist determined that school districts which do not operate summer school programs cannot be required to assume responsibility for the tuition of resident students who attend summer school in other districts. Similarly, boards of education are not obligated to provide transportation to students who do attend summer school in other districts, even if the board voluntarily pays for the students’ tuition. More generally, boards of education are not obligated to provide transportation to and from any summer school programs, unless such transportation is required for a student with a disability pursuant to Article 89 of the Education Law.