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Decision No. 18,365

Appeal of MARTEENA SINGH, on behalf of her child, from action of the Board of Education of the Valley Stream 13 Union Free School District  regarding transportation.

Decision No. 18,365

(December 18, 2023)

Guercio & Guercio, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Christopher W. Shishko, Esq., of counsel

ROSA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Valley Stream 13 Union Free School District (“respondent”) that her daughter (the “student”) is not eligible to receive transportation to a nonpublic school for the 2023-24 school year.  The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner and the student reside within respondent’s district.  On May 16, 2023, petitioner requested transportation to a nonpublic school for the 2023-2024 school year.  By letter dated May 19, 2023, the school district denied petitioner’s request because petitioner had not provided a reasonable explanation for the late request and transportation to the student would result in additional costs.  Petitioner appealed to respondent, which, on July 5, 2023, upheld the school district’s determination.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on July 6, 2023.

Petitioner acknowledges that her request for transportation was untimely but argues that the delay was reasonable because the student’s application for admission to the nonpublic school “was still pending at the time of the April 1st deadline.”  Petitioner also argues that transporting the student would be burdensome for her family.  She seeks an order directing respondent to provide the requested transportation.

Respondent contends that the petition should be dismissed due to improper service and that its decision to deny petitioner’s request was not arbitrary or capricious.  Respondent further alleges that it would incur additional costs to transport the student to the nonpublic school.

First, I must address a procedural issue.  Section 275.8 (a) of the Commissioner’s regulations requires that the petition be personally served upon each named respondent.  If a school district is named as a respondent, service upon the school district shall be made personally by delivering a copy of the petition to the district clerk, to any trustee or any member of the board of education, to the superintendent of schools, or to a person in the office of the superintendent who has been designated by the board of education to accept service (8 NYCRR 275.8 [a]; Appeal of B.H., 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,246; Appeal of Peterson, 48 id. 530, Decision No. 15,939).  The record reveals that the petition was served upon a payroll supervisor employed by the district.  Since the payroll supervisor does not hold one of the positions designated in 8 NYCRR 275.8 (a) and has not been designated by respondent to accept service, the appeal must be dismissed for improper service (see Appeal of J.W., 62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,275).

Even if the appeal were served on an authorized individual, it would be dismissed on the merits.  The Commissioner has consistently held that neither a belated decision to enroll a student in a private school nor a belated notice of admission to a nonpublic school are reasonable explanations for the late submission of transportation requests (see e.g. Appeal of Horowitz, 58 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,622; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 56 id., Decision No. 16,975; Appeal of Lippolt, 48 id. 457, Decision No. 15,914; Appeal of Flores, 47 id. 484, Decision No. 15,761; Appeal of Goyal, 40 id. 40, Decision No. 14,415).  Additionally, petitioner’s requested transportation would necessarily impose additional costs as the school district does not currently operate, or contract for, a bus that drives to the student’s nonpublic school.  As such, respondent’s denial of petitioner’s late transportation request was not arbitrary or capricious (see Appeal of Wilson, 62 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 18,254; Appeal of Dumerlin, 59 id., Decision No. 17,756).