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Decision No. 14,063

Appeal of JENNIFER KELSEY, on behalf of DANIEL JOHN GRUOSSO, from action of the Board of Education of the Comsewogue Union Free School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 14,063

(December 23, 1998)


Cahn Wishod & Lamb, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Joel M. Markowitz, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the denial by the Board of Education of the Comsewogue School District ("respondent") of her request to change the transportation pick-up point for her son, and seeks an order directing the re-location of that pick-up point. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides at 25 Homestead Avenue and is the mother of Daniel Gruosso, a five-year old kindergarten student attending the Terryville Elementary School in respondent’s district. Daniel’s bus stop was originally located on the north side of Route 25A. Petitioner requested that respondent establish a new bus stop so that Daniel and other children to the south of Route 25A would not have to cross that road against a steady stream of traffic. Respondent agreed to change the stop to the south side of Route 25A.

Petitioner now claims that the new bus stop on the south side is equally unsafe, dangerous and unacceptable. She contends that there is no safe passage to and from the bus stop. Petitioner states that Daniel must walk down Homestead Avenue, which has no sidewalk. He therefore must walk in the street or between bushes and parked cars, where he is not visible to motorists. Daniel then must travel west on Route 25A and walk in the street because there is no sidewalk or curb. According to petitioner, Daniel must either cross through a busy delicatessen parking lot or continue walking on Route 25A behind parked cars where he is again not visible to motorists. Petitioner also asserts that the stop itself is hazardous because there is no barrier between the stop and the road, on which cars and large trucks travel at high speeds. Petitioner submits a police blotter list to document her assertion that within the last four years, there have been twenty-six reported motor vehicle accidents on this area of Route 25A, four of which occurred at the bus stop location. Petitioner requests that respondent establish a new additional stop at or near the intersection of Crescent Drive and Homestead Avenue, which is located one block south of Route 25A and one block east of Route 112, four houses up from petitioner’s home. I denied petitioner’s request for interim relief on September 25, 1998.

Respondent disputes petitioners' claims and maintains that it acted reasonably and within its discretion in designating the pick-up point. While respondent admits that the bus stop on the south side of Route 25A may not be ideal, it contends that it is the best and safest location reasonably accessible to petitioner and her neighbors. According to Carl Fraser, school business administrator for the district who has supervisory responsibility for the transportation of students, respondent agreed to establish an additional bus stop on the south side of Route 25A after considering several factors: the safety of children walking to, waiting for and getting on and off the bus, as well as their safety while riding the bus; the time spent on the bus; and the number of buses used and cost of buses to taxpayers. Mr. Fraser states that the bus serving petitioner’s home travels a route that runs east-west on Route 25A and north-south on Route 112. The bus turns at the intersection of those two routes where there is a traffic light to control the traffic and permit safe turns. The new bus stop established pursuant to petitioner’s request is located on the existing bus route, set back from the traffic lanes. Mr. Fraser attests that he personally examined the bus stop, and it satisfies all district standards, including safety.

Mr. Fraser states that respondent seriously considered petitioner’s request for a new stop at the intersection of Crescent Drive and Homestead Avenue but denied her request because of safety concerns. Mr. Fraser attests that from that intersection, the bus would have to return to its route by turning onto Route 25A where it intersects Homestead Avenue, or onto Route 112 where it intersects Crescent Drive. According to Mr. Fraser, neither of those intersections has a traffic light to regulate traffic. In addition, there are businesses on both corners at the intersection of Homestead Avenue and Route 25A that restrict the driver’s ability to see traffic on Route 25A. Also, a large school bus would need more than one lane of traffic to make its turn. Mr. Fraser maintains that getting to and from petitioner’s proposed stop would be hazardous for the bus and its passengers, and would prolong the bus trip while the bus had to wait to turn without the benefit of a traffic light.

In her reply, petitioner submits photographs purporting to show Daniel’s bus turning right onto Route 112 where two lanes merge into one, and turning left on Route 25A, both without a traffic light. She also claims that the bus turns right onto Route 112 at another corner without a light.

The appeal must be dismissed. A board of education may exercise its discretion when designating pick-up points provided that the board uses care in exercising such discretion (Appeal of DiNapoli, 38 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14030, dated November 23, 1998; Appeal of Warner, 37 Ed Dept Rep 469; Appeal of Heuser, 36 id. 368; Appeal of Krauciunas, 35 id. 107). In establishing a pick-up point, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Heuser, supra; Appeal of Krauciunas, supra). 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). Moreover, Education Law "3635 does not require door-to-door transportation and boards of education have discretion to require students to walk to pick-up points from which transportation will be provided (Appeal of Marsh, 36 Ed Dept Rep 134; Appeal of Mechanick, et al, 33 id. 692). 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 the pick-up point (Appeal of Warner, supra; Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, 37 Ed Dept Rep 83; Appeal of Kaufman, 36 id. 45). It is the responsibility of the parent, not the district, to see that the child safely reaches the pick-up point (Appeal of Warner, supra;Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, supra).

After carefully considering petitioner’s written and photographic evidence, I conclude that respondent acted within its discretion in refusing to change the pick-up point to the intersection of Crescent Drive and Homestead Avenue. While respondent admits that the current stop on the south side of Route 25A is not ideal, and the record indicates that there are other corners at which the bus turns without traffic lights, the record nonetheless demonstrates that respondent weighed petitioner's concerns and based its decision on considerations of safety and routing efficiency. While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s concerns about her child’s safety, there is no basis to overturn respondent’s decision. The safety of children between home and pick-up point is the responsibility of parents, not the school district (Pratt v. Robinson, 39 NY2d 554; Appeal of Heuser, supra). Based on the record before me, I cannot conclude that respondent's determination regarding the pick-up point was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. Accordingly, I will not substitute my judgment for that of respondent.