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Decision No. 14,359

Appeal of ALBERT and JOANNE CORVINO from action of the Board of Education of the Harrison Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 14,359

(May 16, 2000)

Cusack & Stiles, LLP, attorneys for petitioners, Gerald C. Tobin, Esq., of counsel

Peter Carparelli, Esq., attorney for respondent

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal a determination by the Board of Education for the Harrison Central School District ("respondent") dated August 26, 1999, that declined to reopen a May 4, 1999 determination denying petitioners' transportation application. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners moved into the school district on March 16, 1999. The record indicates that in early March, petitioner Joanne Corvino had several telephone conversations with the district's transportation officer about bus transportation for petitioners' children for the remainder of the 1998-99 school year. On or about March 17, 1999, Mrs. Corvino signed transportation request applications for the 1998-99 school year, and the district provided transportation for petitioners' children.

The parties dispute whether the transportation officer informed petitioner on March 17, 1999 that separate applications must be filed by April 1 for the 1999-2000 school year, pursuant to Education Law "3635. Petitioners contend that the school district officials did not tell Mrs. Corvino that new applications were required, and misled her into believing that she had filed all necessary forms on March 17, 1999. However, respondent asserts that the transportation officer specifically informed Mrs. Corvino that separate applications must be filed by April 1, 1999 for the following school year and, when she indicated that she did not know whether all three of her children would require transportation in the upcoming school year, the transportation officer advised her to file applications for all three children in the event that the transportation became necessary.

The transportation officer forwarded applications for the 1999-2000 school year to petitioners on March 24, 1999, and the record contains a copy of a note attached to the forms which advised Mrs. Corvino that she should complete the forms for the next year even if she was "not sure" of her children’s transportation needs in the upcoming school year. The note further indicated that she should return the transportation request applications no later than April 1, 1999. Petitioners admit receiving the forms on Friday, March 26, 1999. Petitioners incorrectly assumed that the district offices were closed for religious holidays during the week of March 29 to April 2, although the record is devoid of any indication that petitioners contacted the district offices or made any attempt to ascertain whether in fact the offices were closed. Petitioners filed the transportation applications for 1999-2000 on the following Monday, April 5, 1999. At its meeting on April 28, 1999, respondent denied the transportation requests as untimely because they were filed after April 1, 1999. Notice of this decision was sent to petitioners by letter dated May 4, 1999.

Petitioners took no action regarding the denial until August 1999. On August 26, 1999, respondent’s superintendent sent petitioners a letter indicating that respondent had reviewed petitioners' "August 23, 1999 communication" (a copy of this communication is not included in the record) and would not reopen its original determination denying the earlier transportation request. This appeal ensued.

Petitioners assert that they had a reasonable excuse for their delay in filing the 1999-2000 transportation requests, and that in any event Education Law "3635 should be interpreted to permit them a full 30 days from the date that they became residents of the district to file transportation applications, regardless of whether that 30-day period extends past the April 1 deadline. Respondent denies that petitioners had a reasonable excuse or that petitioners are permitted additional time under Education Law "3635, and asserts that providing the transportation would cost approximately $5000 for the school year so the district is not required to provide transportation. Respondent further contends that this appeal is untimely, because it was not commenced within 30 days of respondent's May 4, 1999 notification to petitioners.

An appeal to the Commissioner must be brought within 30 days of the making of the decision or act complained of (8 NYCRR "275.16). Respondent denied petitioners' 1999-2000 transportation applications at its April 28, 1999 meeting, and this denial was communicated to petitioners by letter dated May 4, 1999. However, petitioners did not commence this appeal until September 23, 1999, almost five months after respondent's decision. Petitioners present no excuse or reason whatsoever for this lengthy delay.

Petitioners argue, however, that the April 28, 1999 decision was based on applications filed in April 1999 for all three of their children, but that they subsequently amended the application to limit this request to only their daughter and thus the August 26, 1999 letter was the first determination addressing this "amended" application. This argument is without merit. Petitioners filed a transportation request application for their daughter in April 1999, this application was denied on April 28, 1999 as untimely, and there is no evidence in the record before me of any additional or different application having been filed on behalf of that child. Although petitioners do not include a copy of their August 23, 1999 communication to respondent, it appears that this communication was in the nature of a request for reconsideration of the prior denial. Requests for reconsideration do not serve to extend the time in which to commence an appeal (Appeal of Bowers, 39 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,216; Appeal of Fullam, et al., 38 Ed Dept Rep 227, Decision No. 14,021).

The appeal is thus untimely, and must be dismissed (Appeal of Alexander, 39 Ed Dept Rep ___, Decision No. 14,232). In view of this disposition, I will not address petitioners' remaining contentions.