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Decision No. 16,280

Appeal of DANIELLE FLISS, on behalf of her son LUKE, from action of the Board of Education of the Pittsford Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 16,280

(August 8, 2011)

Harris Beach PLLC, attorney for respondent, Laura M. Purcell, Esq., of counsel

KING, JR., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the refusal of the Board of Education of the Pittsford Central School District (“respondent”) to change a transportation pick-up point.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner resides in respondent’s district on Evergreen Lane which has a cul-de-sac on one end and intersects with Clover Street on the other.  The designated transportation pick-up point (“bus stop”) for petitioner’s son is located at the intersection of Evergreen Lane and Clover Street.

In February 2010, prior to her son starting kindergarten, petitioner requested that the bus stop be moved to a location on Evergreen Lane.  By letter dated August 30, 2010, the director of transportation notified petitioner of her determination to keep the bus stop at the corner of Clover Street and Evergreen Lane.  Thereafter, pursuant to board policy, petitioner sought review of the determination by a sub-committee of the district’s health and safety committee.  The committee convened on September 23, 2010 to review the bus stop.  The committee used a “child safety zone” analysis that considers road conditions, traffic volume, speed limit and traffic controls.  To qualify as a child safety zone for grades kindergarten through eight, a score of 12 or more is needed.  The committee’s bus stop analysis resulted in a score of five. 

By letter dated September 30, 2010, the committee notified petitioner that the bus stop would remain at Evergreen Lane and Clover Street.  Petitioner appealed the committee’s determination and, by letter dated January 6, 2011, the superintendent denied her appeal.  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner contends that the bus stop is unsafe because it allegedly is located in the middle of two streets.  She also asserts that the route to the bus stop is unsafe due to a high volume of traffic, traffic speed and lack of sidewalks.  Petitioner claims that respondent incorrectly concluded that a school bus could not safely navigate the Evergreen Lane cul-de-sac.  Petitioner argues that respondent’s refusal to change the bus stop is arbitrary and capricious.

Respondent asserts that the bus stop designation is, in all respects, proper and that petitioner has not established that its determination is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.   

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 Brizell, 48 Ed Dept Rep 128, Decision No. 15,814; Appeal of Petrella, 48 id. 45, Decision No. 15,789).  In establishing a pick-up point, a board of education must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency and costs (Appeal of Brizell, 48 Ed Dept Rep 128, Decision No. 15,814; Appeal of Petrella, 48 id. 45, Decision No. 15,789).  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 Girsdansky, 46 Ed Dept Rep 105, Decision No. 15,455).  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 Brizell, 48 Ed Dept Rep 128, Decision No. 15,814; Appeal of Weinschenk, 47 id. 518, Decision No. 15,770).

The Commissioner of Education will uphold a district’s transportation determination unless it is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Lippolt, 48 Ed Dept Rep 457, Decision No. 15,914; Appeal of A.P., 48 id. 380, Decision No. 15,891).  While I am sympathetic to petitioner’s concerns, there is no basis on the record before me to overturn respondent’s decision. 

The record indicates that, previously, a bus stop existed on Evergreen Lane but, as a result of difficulties in maneuvering a bus down the street and around the cul-de-sac, the bus stop was changed to the current location.  Respondent refutes petitioner’s argument that buses travel down other streets with similar cul-de-sacs, submitting the dimensions of those streets and demonstrating that they are, in fact, much wider and provide more room for buses to maneuver.  In evaluating the current bus stop, respondent’s health and safety sub-committee applied a standardized and impartial system and reviewed objective criteria including road conditions, traffic volume, speed limit and traffic controls.  Respondent thoroughly investigated the bus stop location in light of petitioner’s concerns.  Based on the record before me, I cannot conclude that respondent’s determination was arbitrary and capricious, unreasonable or an abuse of discretion.