Decision No. 18,123
Appeal of SHERRY POONWASSIE, on behalf of her children, from action of the Board of Education of the Wappingers Central School District regarding transportation.
Decision No. 18,123
(May 23, 2022)
Thomas, Drohan, Waxman, Petigrow & Mayle, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Gregory R. Picciano, Esq., of counsel
ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Wappingers Central School District (“respondent”) to deny her request to change a pick-up/drop-off location (“pick-up point”) for her children (“the students”). The appeal must be dismissed.
The students attend respondent’s district. In fall 2021, petitioner requested that respondent change the location of the students’ pick-up point. The record reflects that respondent has adopted a “three-step review and appeals procedure” for consideration of such requests. Respondent denied petitioner’s request at each stage of the process, concluding that petitioner’s “safety [concerns] did not rise to the level of deeming the bus stop … unsafe.” This appeal ensued. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on November 1, 2021.
Petitioner asserts that the existing pick-up point is unsafe because children enter and exit the bus “in the middle of the street.” She also indicates that puddles and ice can accumulate at the pick-up point. Additionally, petitioner contends that children are required to “wait across the street” in a “wooded” location where snow accumulates or is piled when shoveled. She seeks a determination that the pick-up point should be changed to a different location on the same street.
Respondent argues that its determination was rational, as multiple employees considered the suitability of the pick-up point and found it to be safe.
A board of education may exercise reasonable discretion when designating pick-up and drop-off points. In establishing a pick-up point, a board must balance considerations of pupil safety and convenience, routing efficiency, and cost. The law does not require a school district “to furnish transportation to a child directly to or from his or her home” (Education Law § 3635  [d]; Appeal of E.F., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,186; Appeal of Brizell, 48 id. 128, Decision No. 15,814).
In an appeal to the Commissioner, a petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a clear legal right to the relief requested and establishing the facts upon which he or she seeks relief (8 NYCRR 275.10; Appeal of P.C. and K.C., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,337; Appeal of Aversa, 48 id. 523, Decision No. 15,936; Appeal of Hansen, 48 id. 354, Decision No. 15,884). With specific respect to transportation, the Commissioner will uphold a district’s transportation determination unless it is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, or an abuse of discretion (Appeal of Bougiamas, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,306; Appeal of Lippolt, 48 id. 457, Decision No. 15,914).
On this record, petitioner has failed to meet her burden of proving that respondent’s determination was arbitrary or capricious. Respondent indicates that multiple district employees, including two bus drivers, inspected the pick-up point and determined that it was safe. Specifically, respondent’s assistant supervisor of transportation explains:
- the pick-up point was at least 15 feet from the road;
- the pick-up point was located on a street with two lanes;
- area traffic was minimal, and no large vehicles were observed;
- visibility was adequate (for at least 500 feet);
- the pick-up point was “sufficiently clear by a minimum of 1,000 feet of curves, hill crests and blind spots”;
- the pick-up point did not contain any non-traffic barriers (e.g. trees, shrubs, buildings);
- all students were able to board and exit the bus without crossing hazardous barriers (e.g. railroads, highways); and
- the pick-up point was an appropriate location for the six families who reside on the street and board the bus.
While petitioner has identified disadvantages associated with the current pick-up point, the circumstances she describes are insufficient to render respondent’s determination arbitrary or capricious (see e.g. Appeal of Petrella, 48 Ed Dept Rep 45, Decision No. 15,789; Appeal of Morgan, 46 id. 474, Decision No. 15,568; Appeal of Galdun, 45 id. 222, Decision No. 15,307).
Nevertheless, respondent appears to have only considered the suitability of the existing pick-up point without weighing it against the merits of petitioner’s proposal. The current and proposed pick-up points are on the same street, separated by approximately 200 feet. Respondent should consider whether petitioner’s proposal is safer or more suitable, particularly given the fact that five families who live on the street support the proposed change. If petitioner’s proposed pick-up point is safer, supported by the families on the street, and would involve minimal inconvenience to respondent, respondent’s refusal to consider it would be arbitrary or capricious.
I have considered petitioner’s remaining contentions and find them to be without merit.
THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.
END OF FILE
 I note, too, that petitioner retains the right to request the establishment of a child safety zone under Education Law § 3635-b based on hazardous conditions.