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New York public schools not responsible for private school transportation on off days

June 24, 2024
The state's highest court rejected a challenge from a religious group that sought free transportation on days when public schools are closed.

The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that school districts in the state are not required to supply busing for private school students on days that public schools are closed.

The Albany Times Union reports that the decision by New York's highest court ends a legal challenge from an Orange County religious group that sought free public transportation for students that follow different schedules.

The ruling reverses a state lower ruling from November 2021, which sided with the United Jewish Community of Blooming Grove, a nonprofit corporation that serves Jewish families in Orange County.

The group had asked the Washingtonville School District to bus private school students at least 20 days a year during public schools' recesses. After the group's request was denied, it sued  the district and state Education Department.

The district's denial was based on a policy that -- while allowing New York City private schools to request five days of transportation on public schools' days off -- did not require public districts elsewhere in the state to provide the same assistance.

Other education laws require school districts to provide sufficient transportation for all children who live within their boundaries, but courts had not ruled on what is considered "sufficient."

Deciding in favor of the district, Associate Judge Michael J. Garcia cited the state's history of prohibiting the allocation of public funds to nonpublic schools, particularly those that teach or are directed by religion.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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