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Decision No. 15,455

Appeal of JENNIFER GIRSDANSKY, on behalf of her son BRANDON BATTISTA, from action of the Board of Education of the Carmel Central School District regarding transportation.


Decision No. 15,455


(August 28, 2006)


Kuntz, Spagnuolo, Scapoli & Schiro, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Jensen Varghese, Esq., of counsel


MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner challenges the determination of the Board of Education of the Carmel Central School District (“respondent”) denying her request to change the transportation pick-up point for her son, Brandon.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Prior to the 2005-2006 school year, Brandon’s transportation pick-up point was at the end of petitioner’s driveway on Peekskill Hollow Road.  Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, when Brandon was a 10-year-old fifth grade student, the pick-up point was moved 75 feet to the intersection of Peekskill Hollow Road and Nashua Road.  Petitioner requested reinstatement of the original pick-up point.  By letter dated December 20, 2005, respondent denied petitioner’s request.  On January 24, 2006, respondent agreed to reconsider petitioner’s request.  By letter dated February 14, 2006, respondent confirmed its decision.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner argues that there have been several accidents along her son’s walking route, that he must walk in the road when it snows, that he is forced to walk on the right side of the road, and that motorists often exceed the 40 miles per hour speed limit.  She further contends that driving him to the stop is dangerous because there is no safe or legal place to park and maintains that Brandon is distressed over the issue.  She requests a determination that it is unsafe for Brandon to walk to his current pick-up point and seeks reinstatement of his former pick-up point.

Respondent argues that it used due care in reaching its determination and did not abuse its discretion.  Respondent further contends that petitioner has failed to produce any evidence that the current pick-up point is unsafe and that providing a stop at petitioner’s residence would compromise the route’s efficiency and result in additional costs to the district.

A board of education may exercise its discretion when designating pick-up and drop-off points, provided that the board uses reasonable care in exercising such discretion (Appeal of Smith, 44 Ed Dept Rep 201, Decision No. 15,148; Appeal of Raymond, 39 id. 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Hobbs, 38 id. 203, Decision No. 14,015). In establishing a pick-up point, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Raymond, 39 Ed Dept Rep 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Hobbs, 38 id. 203, Decision No. 14,015; Appeal of Marsh, 36 id. 134, Decision No. 13,680). The law does not require a school district to provide transportation for a pupil directly to and from home (Education Law �3635[1][d]; Ossant v. Millard, 72 Misc 2d 384) 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, Decision No. 13,680; Appeal of Mechanick, et al., 33 id. 692, Decision No. 13,200). Where a student’s home is on a dangerous road or at a remote location, the parents are not free from the obligation to assist the student in reaching the pick-up point. It is the responsibility of the parent, not the district, to see that the child safely reaches the pick-up point (Appeal of Raymond, 39 Ed Dept Rep 774, Decision No. 14,376; Appeal of Warner, 37 id. 469, Decision No. 13,907; Appeal of Rheaume-Wellenc, 37 id. 83, Decision No. 13,811).

The Commissioner of Education will uphold a district’s transportation determination unless it is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Smith, 44 Ed Dept Rep 201, Decision No. 15,148; Appeal of Flemming, 43 id. 391, Decision No. 15,028; Appeal of Bissar, 43 id. 74, Decision No. 14,923).

In this case, pursuant to district policy, pick-up points are ordinarily not closer than 600 feet to each other.  Corners of intersecting roads are usually selected.  Exceptions may be made when a combination of factors make a pick-up point unsafe.  These factors include a sight distance of less than 400 feet, a student having to cross a road bearing traffic in excess of 45 miles per hour, a student having to walk more than 300 feet on a shoulder that is less than 5 feet wide, an estimated traffic volume in excess of 200 cars per hour, or crossing an intersection with traffic in excess of 45 miles per hour without traffic controls.  Also, when these conditions exist, special consideration is given to students in kindergarten to grade four.

In his affidavit, respondent’s transportation supervisor explained that he as well as a community liaison from the transportation department and the assistant superintendent for business visited the site and concluded that the sight distance was good, there was a shoulder along the road with ample room, that there was an acceptable pull off area for the school bus and that none of the other exceptions applied.  The supervisor also avers that Peekskill Hollow Road is similar to, if not straighter than, the majority of roads in the district and that it does not pose more danger to students than similar streets throughout the district.

Based on this record, I cannot conclude that respondent’s determination was arbitrary, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion.  The district’s criteria for establishing pick-up points reflect safety, convenience, routing efficiency and cost.  Various district personnel visited the site on more than one occasion, applied the factors and determined the pick-up point to be safe. 

At petitioner’s request, respondent reconsidered its determination and confirmed its decision.