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Decision No. 15,051

Appeal of PAMELA R. HURWITZ, on behalf of her son AUSTIN, from action of the Board of Education of the Greece Central School District regarding transportation. 

Decision No. 15,051

          (May 13, 2004)


Phillip R. Hurwitz, Esq., attorney for petitioner


Harris Beach LLP, attorneys for respondent, James A. Spitz, Jr., Esq., of counsel


MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the decision of the Board of Education of the Greece Central School District ("respondent") denying petitioner"s request to change her son"s transportation pick-up point.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner"s son, Austin, attends the Odyssey Middle School in respondent"s district.  Prior to the 2003-2004 school year, district students were provided transportation directly from home to school.  As a cost savings measure, respondent decided to eliminate door-to-door transportation for the 2003-2004 school year, and instead, adopted a system of centralized bus stops.  According to petitioner, Austin"s pick-up point is .28 miles from petitioner"s home.  By letter dated August 27, 2003 to respondent"s transportation office, Austin"s father requested a change in Austin"s bus stop, citing safety concerns.  By letter dated September 2, 2003, respondent"s Bus Operations Expeditor denied the request.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that the route to the pick-up point is hazardous because, among other things, it does not have sidewalks or overhead lights.  As a result, Austin must walk on the shoulder, which is less than four feet wide and runs alongside a drainage ditch.  Petitioner contends, therefore, that the pick-up point is unduly hazardous and that respondent"s refusal to change it is arbitrary and capricious.  Petitioner requests that I order respondent to designate petitioner"s address as Austin"s pick-up point.  Respondent contends that petitioner has failed to establish that its decision was arbitrary or capricious.

The law does not require a school district to provide transportation for a pupil directly to and from his home (Education Law "3635; see also Ossant v. Millard, 72 Misc 2d 384).  Boards of education may require students to walk to pick-up points from which transportation will be provided (Appeal of Marsh, 36 Ed Dept Rep 134, Decision No. 13,680; Appeal of Mechanick, et al., 33 id. 692, Decision No. 13,200).

A board of education has discretion in designating pick-up and drop-off points, provided that the board uses reasonable care in exercising such discretion (Appeal of Raymond, 39 Ed Dept Rep 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Hobbs, 38 id. 203, Decision No. 14,015; Appeal of Kaufman, 36 id. 45, Decision No. 13,650).  In establishing a pick-up point, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Hobbs, supra; Appeal of Marsh, supra; Appeal of Krauciunas, 35 Ed Dept Rep 107, Decision No. 13,480).

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, 37 Ed Dept Rep 469, Decision No. 13,907; Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, 37 id. 83, Decision No. 13,811; Appeal of Kaufman, supra).  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).

According to respondent"s Bus Operations Expeditor ("Expeditor"), after the district established a system of centralized bus stops for the 2003-2004 school year, a number of parents expressed concern over the safety of their child"s designated pick-up point.  In each case, the Expeditor measured the distance between the child"s home and the pick-up point to verify that it falls within the district"s established guidelines for home to bus-stop distance.  Then, he reviewed the safety of the bus stop using as guidance the "Child Safety Zone" criteria under Education Law "3635-b.

In this case, the Expeditor determined that the distance from petitioner"s house to the pick-up point was 1,463 feet, within the 1,500 foot maximum distance designated by respondent for students in sixth through twelfth grade.  In addition, the Expeditor investigated the safety of Austin"s route by considering, among other things, the existence of sidewalks, width of the shoulder, posted speed limit on the road and amount of traffic.   He also personally walked the route from petitioner"s home to the designated pick-up point, measuring the drainage ditches and taking photographs.  Based on his investigation, he found no basis to recommend a change in pick-up point to the Director of Transportation.

After carefully examining all of the evidence in the record, I conclude that respondent acted within its discretion in declining to change the pick-up point. The record indicates that respondent investigated petitioner"s concerns and based its decision on considerations of student safety, convenience, routing efficiency and costs.  Many of the conditions cited by petitioner " the lack of sidewalks and overhead lights " are common to many rural and suburban areas, and are not, in and of themselves, a basis for deeming the current pick-up point unsafe (see, Appeal of Krauciunas, supra).

While I am sympathetic to petitioner"s concerns about her child"s safety, I find 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, 36 Ed Dept Rep 368, Decision No. 13,751).  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.