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Decision No. 14,094

Appeal of LEE REICH, on behalf of GENEVIEVE REICH, from action of the Board of Education of the New Paltz Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 14,094

(March 26, 1999)

Shaw & Perelson, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Garrett L. Silveira, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Education of the New Paltz Central School District ("respondent") to change his daughter's bus route. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides on Springtown Road within respondent’s school district and his daughter attends Lenape Elementary School. The district provides transportation for petitioner’s daughter between her home and school. Petitioner lives at one of the farthest points on the bus route from Lenape School. In the morning, the bus travels to the end of the route, picks up the children who live farthest away first and brings them to school. In the afternoon, the bus drops off children living closest to school first. Therefore, petitioner’s daughter rides the bus almost one hour each way to and from school.

In August 1997 petitioner requested that respondent reverse the pick up order for either the morning or afternoon bus run to equalize the time children ride the bus. Petitioner and respondent's transportation supervisor both calculated the duration of the existing bus route and the time it would take to reverse the route. By letter dated April 2, 1998 respondent denied petitioner’s request. This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that the two hours of travel time his daughter spends on the bus each day is excessive. He claims that by reversing the bus route one way, his daughter’s total time on the bus could be reduced to approximately 90 minutes. He also asserts that his proposal would not inconvenience respondent or other students and would result in no student having to spend more than 90 minutes daily on the bus. Petitioner challenges respondent’s determination that his proposal would increase the total route time and result in more children riding the bus longer.

In response to petitioner’s request, the route in question was timed on three separate occasions. Respondent’s transportation supervisor analyzed the alternate bus route for each child based upon 15 minute intervals. He concluded that, if the run were reversed on either the morning or afternoon trip, more children would remain on the bus for longer than an hour. Respondent asserts that longer travel times would increase the cost of the entire route. Respondent argues, therefore, that it reasonably denied petitioner’s request.

Education Law "3635 requires a board of education to provide transportation to students based upon the distance between their home and the school they attend. A board of education has broad discretion to determine how such transportation will be provided (Appeal of Broad, 35 Ed Dept Rep 248; Appeal of Palyo, 33 id. 169; Appeal of Lavin, 32 id. 249). In making that determination, a board may balance considerations of safety, convenience, efficiency and cost (Appeal of Byrne, et al., 34 Ed Dept Rep 389; Appeal of Eats, 29 id. 481; Matter of Horschel, 24 id. 94). Moreover, a board of education has both the responsibility and the authority to decide difficult questions in balancing the overall efficiency and economy of a transportation system against the convenience of individual students (Appeal of Polifka, 31 Ed Dept Rep 61; Appeal of a Handicapped Child, 25 id. 280; Matter of McBennett, 17 id. 404). Such decisions will not be overturned unless they are arbitrary, capricious and without a rational basis (Appeal of Byrne, et al., supra; Appeal of Polifka, supra).

Upon my review of the record I do not find that respondent’s determination to retain its current bus route is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. Neither the Education Law nor the Commissioner's regulations establish maximum time limits for the transportation of students. One-way trips exceeding one and one-half hours have been upheld as not excessive (Appeal of DeVore, 36 Ed Dept Rep 326; Appeal of Polifka, supra; Appeal of Capozza, 25 Ed Dept Rep 15). Respondent maintains that it attempts to limit the time children ride the bus each way to one hour or less. The bus schedule for petitioner’s daughter achieves this goal.

Moreover, respondent duly considered petitioner’s request, and its effect on efficiency and convenience to other children. Based upon the transportation supervisor's calculations, respondent found that reversing the route would result in a greater number of children spending more than one hour traveling to or from school. Although respondent’s calculations differ slightly from petitioner’s, there is no basis in the record to determine that they are inaccurate or unreasonable.

Based upon the foregoing, I conclude that respondent’s decision in this matter is not arbitrary, capricious or without a rational basis. Therefore, I will not substitute my judgement for that of respondent.