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Decision No. 18,273

Appeal of SHOSHANA GOLANI, on behalf of her child, from action of the Board of Education of the Suffern Central School District regarding transportation.

Decision No. 18,273

(May 11, 2023)

Keane & Beane, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Susan E. Fine, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals from action of the Board of Education of the Suffern Central School District (“respondent” or the “district”) regarding the transportation of her child (the “student”) to a nonpublic school for the 2022-2023 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

On or about March 21, 2022, petitioner requested transportation to and from the nonpublic school for the 2022-2023 school year.  In August 2022, respondent indicated to petitioner that the bus would pick up the student from the nonpublic school at 3:36 p.m.  Petitioner subsequently contacted respondent’s transportation office and asserted that the bus schedule was incorrect as the student’s school day ended at 4:25 p.m.  Petitioner further contends that she requested a later pickup time, which a district employee denied.[1]  This appeal ensued. Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on October 3, 2022.

Petitioner contends that respondent’s refusal to provide transportation for her child until the end of her school day at the nonpublic school violates her right to transportation under Education Law § 3635.  Petitioner seeks a determination that respondent provide afternoon transportation for her child at 4:25 p.m.

Respondent asserts that it provides transportation to and from the nonpublic school in accordance with the schedule requested by the nonpublic school.  Additionally, respondent argues that it would incur substantial cost if it were required to provide later afternoon transportation for the student.

As an initial matter, to the extent petitioner seeks relief on behalf of “other Suffern families,” petitioner’s claims must be dismissed for lack of standing (see Appeal of Gallent, 59 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,751; Appeal of Allert, 32 id. 538, Decision No. 12,909).  While petitioner, as the student’s parent, has standing to bring this appeal on the student's behalf, she lacks standing to assert the rights of others (Appeal of L.N., et al., 61 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,105; Appeal of Northington, 60 id., Decision No. 17,982).

Turning to the merits, a school district must provide transportation to children who reside within the district and attend nonpublic schools, provided that the distance between the child’s home and his or her nonpublic school is within the statutorily prescribed limits (Education Law § 3635 [1] [a]; Appeal of Matlis, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,303; Appeal of S.T., 48 id. 389, Decision No. 15,894; Appeal of Hughes, 48 id. 299, Decision No. 15,865).  Specifically, a board must provide transportation for all children attending kindergarten through grade 8 whose home and school are between 2 and 15 miles apart, as well as all children attending grades 9 through 12 whose home and school are between 3 and 15 miles apart (Education Law § 3635 [1] [a]).

The Commissioner will uphold a district’s transportation determination unless it is arbitrary or capricious (Appeal of Bougiamas, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,306; Appeal of Lippolt, 48 id. 457, Decision No. 15,914).  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). 

Here, petitioner has failed to prove that the district’s transportation determination was arbitrary or capricious.  While petitioner asserts that her child’s school dismissal time is 4:25, respondent has demonstrated that the nonpublic school identified its dismissal time as 3:15—a representation upon which respondent reasonably relied.  The record reflects that, in March 2021, the nonpublic school informed the district that its “dismissal time for transportation purposes would be 3:15 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays ...”[2]  In January 2022, respondent inquired of each nonpublic school to which it currently provided transportation as to whether it wished to update its transportation schedule.  Respondent’s purchasing supervisor, who is responsible for overseeing the district’s bus transportation, avers that the nonpublic school did not respond or otherwise seek to request to change its dismissal times.  Thus, I find that the district reasonably scheduled afternoon transportation for the nonpublic school for the 2022-2023 school year for 3:36 p.m.[3]

Petitioner nevertheless argues that the district could have “easily accommodate[d]” a later dismissal time for the student by combining transportation with a second nonpublic school.  Petitioner further asserts that this would not present “any additional cost to the district.”  In response, respondent’s purchasing supervisor explains that even if the district arranged for an afternoon bus pickup at the nonpublic school at 4:25, logistical issues of distance and timing would necessitate the use of “another vehicle in the same vicinity ... with excess capacity” or a new bus route.  This would cost at least $5,000 per year—and could cost as much as $85,000.  Thus, respondent has sufficiently rebutted petitioner’s unsupported claim that the requested transportation could have been provided under existing transportation arrangements at no additional cost (e.g., Appeal of Doe, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,295).

In light of this determination, it is unnecessary to address petitioner’s remaining contentions.




[1] Respondent “[d]enies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth” of this allegation but otherwise admits that it offered afternoon bus pickup at 3:36 p.m.


[2] The email further requested a 1:30 dismissal time, “if possible,” on Fridays.  It appears that respondent accommodated this request and that there is no dispute over the Friday dismissal time on appeal.


[3] Pursuant to its student transportation policy, respondent “provide[s] one arrival and one dismissal time for each registered non-public school in the same manner that it does for its public schools.”