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Decision No. 15,622

Appeal of ROSEMARIE MONDESANDO, on behalf of her daughter ALYSSA, from action of the Board of Education of the Wappingers Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 15,622

(August 9, 2007)

Donoghue, Thomas, Auslander & Drohan, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Daniel Petigrow, Esq., of counsel

AHEARN, Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the decision of the Board of Education of the Wappingers Central School District (“respondent”) denying her request to change the transportation pick-up point for her daughter, Alyssa.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Alyssa attends Brinckerhoff Elementary School in respondent’s district.  During the 2005-2006 school year, the district retained Transportation Advisory Services (“TAS”) to evaluate the district’s transportation routes and bus stops.  Based on TAS’s review of existing routes and bus stops, Alyssa’s stop was redesignated from Windsor Road to Hoose Boulevard.

On August 24, 2006, petitioner submitted a “school bus stop review request form” requesting that Alyssa’s transportation pick-up point remain on Windsor Road.  By letter dated September 8, 2006, the district’s transportation department (“the department”) notified petitioner that her request had been denied.

Subsequently, petitioner appealed the department’s decision to the district’s transportation appeal committee.  By letter dated October 25, 2006, the assistant supervisor of transportation advised petitioner that her appeal had been denied.

Thereafter, petitioner appealed the decision to respondent which, by letter dated November 13, 2006, denied her appeal.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on January 23, 2007.

Petitioner alleges that the Hoose Boulevard pick-up point is unsafe because it is located near a blind curve where visibility is limited.  Petitioner contends that respondent would incur no additional cost or time by moving the pick-up point to Windsor Road.  Petitioner also alleges that respondent’s actions were arbitrary and capricious. Petitioner requests that Alyssa’s pick-up point be redesignated to Windsor Road.

Respondent alleges that the appeal is untimely.  Respondent maintains that Alyssa’s pick-up point is safe and was established in a manner consistent with district policy.

     An appeal to the Commissioner must be commenced within 30 days from the making of the decision or the performance of the act complained of, unless any delay is excused by the Commissioner for good cause shown (8 NYCRR §275.16; Appeal of O’Brien, 44 Ed Dept Rep 43, Decision No. 15,092; Appeal of Spina, 43 id. 354, Decision No. 15,016).  The record reflects that respondent notified petitioner of its decision to deny her request to change Alyssa’s pick-up point by letter dated November 13, 2006.  Petitioner commenced this appeal on December 13, 2006, within the 30 day period.  Petitioner’s service of an amended petition requesting a stay does not change the fact that the appeal was commenced in a timely manner.

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 the 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 record indicates that petitioner’s request to change Alyssa’s pick-up point to Windsor Road was considered on three separate occasions.  Initially, her request was reviewed by a committee composed of at least one transportation department supervisor, a bus driver and a trained parent volunteer.  This committee reviewed specific, objective criteria such as the number of traffic lanes, speed limit, visibility, traffic volume and the distance between Alyssa’s home and the pick-up point.  Subsequently, petitioner’s request was reviewed by a second committee comprised of a principal, a retired bus driver, an independent consultant, a supervisor and community members, which determined that the safety criteria were properly applied.  Finally, petitioner’s request was reviewed by respondent.  At each stage it was determined that the pick-up point assigned to Alyssa was safe and appropriate.

     After carefully examining the evidence presented by the parties, I find that respondent acted reasonably and within its discretion in declining to change Alyssa’s pick-up point.  The record indicates that respondent thoroughly investigated petitioner’s concerns and balanced considerations of safety, convenience and cost.  Accordingly, I cannot conclude that respondent’s determination was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.