MAMARONECK, N.Y. – A parents group has withdrawn its petition challenging the Mamaroneck School District's recent policy change that allows it to provide private and parochial students in high school public transit passes instead of yellow bus service.
A Westchester County Court judge had already denied the group Fairness for all Kids’ stay request, which would have prevented the policy change from taking effect for the coming school year.
However, Fairness for all Kids Spokesman Morgan Hook told Daily Voice the judge never ruled on the merits of its position. It claims the district's revised policy discriminates against the 372 high school students who live in the district but attend private or parochial schools.
The policy change will affect 48 of the 142 students who applied for transportation services to nonpublic schools. It is estimated to save the district $98,000 in 2014-15 and accrue annually.
"We withdrew our petition voluntarily, based on the court's suggestion that the lawsuit was premature, since the families affected had not yet been notified whether or not their children would be denied busing," Morgan Hook, spokesman for Fairness for all Kids told Daily Voice.
Schools Superintendent Robert Shaps told Daily Voice that the judge’s decision on the stay request affirmed that the policy change is within educational law and regulations.
“The (Education) Commissioner has upheld the use of public transportation for students attending nonpublic schools in numerous cases over more than 40 years,” according to a statement by the district.
Students have now been told whether they will receive yellow bus service, public transportation, or a "vacant seat" on a yellow bus already taking other students to their school.
Nonpublic students assigned to public transportation have been offered an option between a Metro-North or Bee Line Bus pass. The policy change doesn’t apply to students with special needs.
Hook said the parent group is now evaluating its options, which he said include continuing with its lawsuit.
"The hardship these families will face will be impossible to ignore in a few short weeks when school starts," Hook said.
The district had previously moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it should have been brought to the state Commissioner of Education instead of the state Supreme Court.
"We have taken every step to try to provide in a proactive way the appropriate level of communication around the transportation policy change and the regulations to ensure that we have a smooth transition for parents and for those 48 students," he said.
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