Nonpublic Schools

Transportation for Students Enrolled in Nonpublic Schools

Section 3635 of the Education Law requires all non-city districts to provide transportation for pupils enrolled in kindergarten through grades 8 who live more than two miles from the school they attend and for pupils enrolled in grades 9-12 who live more than three miles from the school they attend up to a distance of fifteen miles. The distances in each case are measured by the nearest available routes from home to school. In order to obtain transportation for their children, parents must file requests with the district in which they live by April 1 of the preceding school year or within 30 days of moving to the district. It is the responsibility of both public and nonpublic school administrators to make sure that parents are aware of these deadlines far enough in advance so that they can submit their requests on time.

There are two ways in which transportation can be provided for pupils who live beyond the mileage limits specified in the law. First, with voter approval, non city school districts may provide transportation beyond specified limits. A second way is through what is known as the pickup point law. This provision of the Education Law requires school districts which are currently transporting pupils to a nonpublic school to designate one or more public schools as centralized pickup points for nonpublic school pupils who live beyond the 15-mile limit. The parent must arrange to get the pupil to and from the pickup point; the district then transports the pupil between that point and the nonpublic school. In order for the pickup point arrangement to be operative, the school district must currently be providing transportation to that nonpublic school for at least one pupil who lives within the prescribed mileage limits.

In addition to the required "pickup point" transportation, a recent change in law also permits a board of education at its discretion to provide transportation for pupils residing more than fifteen miles from a nonpublic school under the following conditions:

  • the distance between the centralized pickup points and the nonpublic school is not more than fifteen miles, and
  • if such transportation had been provided from one or more centralized pickup points to the same nonpublic school in at least one of the immediately preceding three school years.

City school districts and the city portion of enlarged city school districts are not required to provide transportation, except for suitable transportation for children with handicapping conditions. These districts may, however, by a majority vote of the board of education, opt to provide transportation. If transportation is provided, it must be provided equally to all pupils in like circumstances, those attending both public or nonpublic schools.

In accordance with the provisions of Section 3635 enlarged city school districts are required to provide transportation for those pupils residing within the enlarged portion of the city. The enlarged portion is created by authorization of the Commissioner of Education for the consolidation of city school districts of cities of less than 125,000 inhabitants with areas contiguous to the city school district. The areas may consist of one or more union free, common, or central school districts. Thirty-four of the 56 city school districts in the State contain enlarged portions.

Section 3635 also provides that New York City public school officials must by June 1 of each year notify administrators of nonpublic schools to which transportation has been requested of the public school calendar for the following year. Nonpublic school administrators may then request transportation on five days when the nonpublic schools are in session and the public schools are closed (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays). The five days must be selected from: the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday following Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. In no case will transportation provided by New York City exceed 180 days.

School districts may, if they so desire, offer late bus transportation to allow pupils to take advantage of after school activities and programs. If such transportation is provided, it must be made available equally to nonpublic and public school pupils. Any policies established by the board of education relating to late bus transportation must also apply equally to nonpublic and public school pupils. Parents should request late bus transportation as soon as the need is evident, but there is no statutory deadline for the submission of requests. Parents are urged to file requests at the earliest possible date. The administrator of the nonpublic school should discuss late bus needs with public school district personnel as plans are made each year.

Another provision of Section 3635 authorizes a board of education, at its discretion, to provide transportation to students in kindergarten through grade 8 between school and/or after school child-care locations within the district. If this transportation is provided, it must be provided to all children in like circumstances residing in the district. A board of education is not authorized to provide transportation between a child-care location and the pupil's home.

Section 3635 further allows a board of education, at its discretion, to provide transportation for a child of less than school age residing within the school district to and from the school which his or her parent legally attends. The conditions under which this can take place are: (a) the child is accompanied by the parent; (b) the parent is under 21 years of age and has not received a high school diploma and (c) transportation is furnished so that the child may receive child care services and/or attend a nursery school, preschool, or parenting program. Pursuant to Section 1229-c of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, a safety seat, which meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and is affixed to the vehicle by a safety belt, must be used when transporting children under the age of four.

In addition to Section 3635, other legislation pertains to transportation provided to pupils for their participation in dual enrollment programs and, on the basis of individual need, to pupils with handicapping conditions. Questions and Answers in the following section contain information on these specific provisions for transportation.

The complexity of arranging routes and coordinating transportation for nonpublic school pupils from several districts attending a variety of nonpublic schools requires cooperative efforts in planning and communication. Public and nonpublic school officials are advised to discuss calendars, schedules and special pupil needs early in the planning stages. The efficient provision of transportation for all pupils can result from such discussions.

Questions about transportation are addressed in the following segments:

  1. Conditions;
  2. Requests for Transportation;
  3. Late Bus Transportation;
  4. Central Pickup Points;
  5. Transportation for Handicapped Pupils;
  6. Transportation for Dual Enrollment; and
  7. Transportation for Children Less than School Age.

Questions and Answers


A. Conditions

  1. Are there any school districts that are not required to provide transportation to nonpublic school pupils?
    Yes. City school districts that do not provide transportation to public school pupils are not required to provide transportation to nonpublic school pupils. Also, school boards of enlarged city school districts are not required to provide transportation to public school pupils who reside in the city portion of the district. Consequently, none is required for nonpublic school pupils who reside in the city portion of the enlarged city district. However, transportation, within the legal mileage limits, must be provided for public and nonpublic school pupils who reside in the enlarged portion of the city school district.
  2. May public school officials require nonpublic school pupils who qualify for transportation to use public service transportation?
    Yes. The services must be reasonable and adequate, but they need not be exactly the same for public and nonpublic school pupils.
  3. If a city school district opts to provide transportation, must it provide transportation beyond city limits?
    No. A city school district is not required to provide such transportation. However, it may provide such transportation upon majority vote of the board of education and may receive State aid for providing this service.
  4. Is the age of a pupil a factor in determining eligibility for transportation to a nonpublic school?
    Yes. Pupils attending nonpublic schools must meet the same age requirements that apply to public school pupils in a particular school district.
  5. Are public school officials required to provide transportation to pupils attending nonpublic schools during the summer?
    No. Such transportation is neither required nor authorized. (See segment E, page 22, regarding transportation of handicapped pupils.)
  6. Are public school officials required to provide nonpublic school pupils with transportation which exceeds the legal transportation limits that apply to public school pupils?
    No. The exception to this is the central pickup point arrangement, which is addressed in segment D.
  7. Are nonpublic school pupils entitled to be transported distances equal to those which are provided to public school pupils who are transported for the purpose of alleviating racial imbalance?
    No. Pupils transported to a public school for the purpose of alleviating racial imbalance are not in like circumstances to pupils attending a nonpublic school with respect to eligibility for transportation.
  8. Are nonpublic school pupils who live less than two miles from an elementary school (K-8) or less than three miles from a secondary school (9-12) eligible for transportation?
    No. However, if a school district provides transportation for public school pupils who live closer to their schools than these stated limits, it must provide transportation to nonpublic school pupils who are in the same circumstances.
  9. With the exception of New York City, are school districts required to provide transportation to nonpublic schools on days when public schools are scheduled to be closed?
    No. However, districts that do provide transportation to nonpublic schools on days when the public schools are closed may claim State aid for providing that service.
  10. Is the school district of New York City required to provide transportation to nonpublic schools on any days when the public schools are scheduled to be closed?
    Yes. The nonpublic school administrator may choose five days from among the following on which transportation is to be provided: the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday after Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The board of education has discretion to provide transportation beyond the five days mandated by law provided that the total number of transportation days does not exceed 180 and that the additional days of service are not Federal holidays. If the board of education chooses to provide these additional days of service, it may not claim State aid.
  11. Is a non city school district required to provide transportation for pupils to nonpublic schools which are located beyond the school district boundaries or to nonpublic schools which are located outside of New York State?
    Yes. Transportation must be provided up to a limit of 15 miles. (See also segment D, page 21).
  12. In the event two or more parochial schools of the same denomination are within the maximum distance allowed for transporting public school pupils, may the parents of a nonpublic school pupil designate the school to which transportation will be provided?
    Yes.
  13. Is a school district required to furnish to a pupil directly to or from the pupil's home?
    School districts generally are not required to transport pupils on a door-to-door basis. However, some handicapped pupils do require door-to-door transportation.
  14. Is a school district required to provide transportation because of hazardous conditions?
    No. Eligibility for transportation is based solely on the distance between a pupil's home and the school which he or she attends.
  15. If there is a transfer point, who is responsible for the supervision of pupils during the time they wait for and change buses?
    The school district is responsible for reasonable supervision of pupils at transfer points.
  16. Are there any laws or rules and regulations regarding limitations on the amount of time pupils may be required to travel on school buses?
    No. However, the amount of time should be reasonable in terms of distances traveled and services provided for pupils in like circumstances.
  17. May public school officials refuse to provide transportation for nonpublic school pupils at the close of a half-day of kindergarten program?
    No.
  18. May public school officials deny transportation to nonpublic school pupils when the school which they attend has a daily schedule which differs from the public school schedule?
    Transportation may be denied if the nonpublic school schedule is unreasonable or differs significantly from the public school schedule. Public and nonpublic school officials are strongly urged to cooperate in the planning schedules which accommodate the needs of all pupils in the most efficient and economical way.
  19. May public school officials enter into contracts with the parents of nonpublic school pupils to provide transportation for their own children?
    Yes. However, such contracts are subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Education which is based, in part, on a test for reasonable cost. The contract is subject to competitive bidding if it exceeds $5,000. If the contract is limited to reimbursement for expenses, as distinguished from wage or salary expenses, the requirements of Article 19-A of the Vehicle and Traffic Law do not apply. However, if wages or salary are paid, then the parent is required to comply with Article 19-A. In either case the vehicle which the parent uses for such transportation must be inspected by the Department of Transportation.
  20. May public school officials enter into contracts with the parents of nonpublic school pupils to provide transportation to other than their own children?
    Yes. However, the parent must meet all requirements for qualification as a school bus driver as stipulated in Section 156.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The parent must also satisfy all of the appropriate requirements described in the answer to question 19 above. In this case, however, the parent must comply with Article 19-A of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

B. Requests for Transportation

  1. Are the parents of nonpublic school pupils required to request public school authorization to provide transportation to their children?
    Yes. Parents must request transportation services in writing by April 1. This can be done directly to public school authorities, or, in some cases, requests are channeled through the nonpublic school to the public school authorities. However, the obligation to submit a timely request rests with the parents, and the neglect of the nonpublic school authorities to file a request is not a reasonable excuse.
  2. Are public school officials obligated in any way to notify or remind the parents of nonpublic school pupils that requests for transportation are due?
    No. The law does not require public school officials to notify parents. However, it is recommended that districts publish the dates in a local newspaper or use other means to inform parents of the due date.
  3. Must the requests for transportation which are made on behalf of the nonpublic school pupils be made in writing?
    Yes. In most cases the board of education provides request forms for this purpose.
  4. Is there a deadline for submitting written requests for transportation from home to a nonpublic school?
    Yes. The deadline is the first day of April which precedes the next school year. In other words, requests for transportation which is to begin in September must be made by April 1.
  5. Must a written request for transportation be made every year?
    Yes. Public school officials need to know every year who is requesting transportation in order to provide efficient service.
  6. If a pupil moves into a public school district after April 1, must the district provide transportation to a nonpublic school?
    Yes. If the district receives a request from a new resident after April 1, the request must be treated in the same way as requests received before April 1, provided that it is received by local school officials within 30 days of the date on which the pupil became a legal resident of the school district.
  7. How must a board of education accommodate the request for transportation when the parent has requested transportation to one nonpublic school prior to April 1 and then decides to transfer the pupil to another nonpublic school?
    This should be addressed in the same way as a late request; that is, the transportation should be provided if it will entail no extra expense to the district or if the board finds the reason for the transfer to be reasonable.
  8. When is a request considered to be "late"?
    A "late" request is one filed by a resident after the April 1 deadline or by a new resident more than 30 days after moving into the district.
  9. May public school officials deny a request for transportation to a nonpublic school simply because the request was not submitted on time?
    No. Late requests must be granted if there are good reasons for the delay.
  10. Who has the authority to decide which reasons are good and which are unacceptable reasons for a late request?
    This authority rests with the board of education, whose policies are carried out by the public school officials.
  11. Are public school officials required to honor a late request for transportation if providing that transportation would result in additional cost to the school district?
    Yes. A late request must be honored if a reasonable excuse is provided for the delay in filing a timely request.
  12. May public school officials deny a late request if there is an empty seat on the bus which would be designated to transport the nonpublic school pupil and the provision of such transportation would not result in additional cost to the school district?
    No. As long as there is an empty seat on the bus which the pupil would normally be assigned, a request cannot be denied, even if it is submitted late and even if the excuses for making the late request are not reasonable, provided that there would not be any additional cost to the school district.
  13. Do parents of nonpublic school pupils have recourse in the event public school officials deny a transportation request?
    Yes. The parent of a pupil who is denied transportation to a nonpublic school may make an appeal to the Commissioner of Education, if a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached with the transportation office, the superintendent, or the board of education.
  14. Are there specific procedures for making an appeal to the Commissioner of Education?
    Yes. Copies of the procedure to be used for making an appeal may be obtained from the Education Department.
  15. Is there any time limit for making an appeal to the Commissioner?
    Yes. An appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date on which the board of education denied the transportation, or the appeal may be denied on the basis of timeliness.

C. Late Bus Transportation

  1. Are school districts required to provide late bus transportation?
    School districts may provide late bus transportation but are not required by law to do so. However, many districts do provide late bus transportation to allow pupils to take advantage of after-school activities and programs. If late bus transportation is provided, it must be made available equally to nonpublic and public school pupils. The district may receive State aid for providing this service.
  2. If a school district provides late bus transportation in some circumstances, is the district required to provide it in all circumstances?
    No. School districts are not required to provide late bus transportation specifically for convenience, regardless of the number of pupils involved, nor is there any requirement that late transportation be provided from all schools simply because it is provided from one or two schools. School officials have the prerogative of establishing late bus transportation policy as they see fit. However, such policies must apply equally to nonpublic and public school pupils.
  3. Is it necessary to request late bus transportation if approval has been received for regular transportation?
    Yes. Nonpublic school officials or parents of the pupils involved should make a special request for late bus transportation. However, there are no deadlines for such requests. They should be made with sufficient time for school officials to make arrangements to honor the requests.
  4. Do the parents of nonpublic school pupils have recourse if public school officials deny their request for late bus transportation?
    Yes. They may appeal to the Commissioner of Education. (See segment B, questions 13, 14, and 15).
  5. Are school districts required to provide nonpublic school pupils with transportation for field trips, athletic events, religious instruction, etc.?
    No. School districts are not allowed to provide such transportation.

D. Central Pickup Points

  1. Is a school district required to provide transportation to a nonpublic school which is more than 15 miles from the home of the nonpublic school pupil?
    Transportation beyond 15 miles is required only in accordance with the provisions of the pickup point law.
  2. Is a school district required to provide a central pickup point for a nonpublic school pupil whose school is more than 15 miles from the pupil’s home?
    A school district must establish at least one central pickup point if it is currently transporting a pupil to the nonpublic school to which transportation is requested. Nonpublic school pupils who reside more than 15 miles from the nonpublic school are eligible for transportation between the pickup point and the nonpublic school.
  3. Is a school district required to provide a nonpublic school pupil with transportation to the pickup point or from the pickup point to the pupil’s home?
    No. Transportation between the pickup point and the pupil’s home is neither required nor authorized by the pickup point law.
  4. Must the pickup point be within 15 miles of the nonpublic school?
    No. The distance between the pickup point and the school may be more than 15 miles.
  5. Are all nonpublic school pupils who live 15 miles or more from school eligible for transportation from the pickup points to school?
    If there are no pupils attending a nonpublic school who live less than 15 miles from that nonpublic school, then pupils who live more than 15 miles from that school are not eligible for transportation to that school from a central pickup point.
    However, a board of education may at its discretion provide transportation for nonpublic school pupils who live 15 miles or more from the school they attend if the distance between the pickup point and the nonpublic school is not more than 15 miles and if such transportation had been provided between one or more pickup points to the same nonpublic school in at least one of the immediately preceding three school years.
  6. May a board of education deny transportation from a pickup point if the transportation would require adding another bus for service to the nonpublic school?
    No. The district is required to make the necessary arrangements to transport all eligible pupils.
  7. May the designated pickup point be at a bus garage, administrative center owned by the school district, or some other convenient location?
    No. The school district is required to designate a public school or schools as pickup points.
  8. If a district has several buildings, must all buildings be designated as pickup points?
    No. A board of education can designate one or more public school buildings as pickup points.
  9. May a school district deny transportation from a pickup point to a nonpublic school if the money appropriated in the budget is insufficient to pay for the additional transportation?
    No. These transportation expenditures are an ordinary contingent expense.
  10. May public transportation be used as an alternative to school bus transportation from a pickup point?
    Yes.
  11. Is the school district responsible for supervision of pupils at the pickup point until transportation to the nonpublic school arrives?
    Yes. The school district is responsible for providing supervision for appropriate times prior to arrival and departure times of the school bus.

E. Transportation for Pupils with Handicapping Conditions

  1. Must all school districts provide suitable transportation for all handicapped pupils to the public or nonpublic schools they attend?
    Yes. Districts must provide the transportation stipulated in the pupil’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  2. Which district is responsible for providing transportation of nonpublic school pupils with handicapping conditions to participate in special education programs?
    The school district in which the pupil resides is responsible for providing the necessary transportation.
  3. Are all pupils with handicapping conditions entitled to special transportation solely because they have been so identified?
    No. The nature of the handicap is the basis for determining any special transportation.
  4. Are there any deadlines for making special transportation requests for handicapped pupils?
    No.
  5. Must school districts provide transportation for handicapped pupils to special education programs and services held in public schools or at neutral sites?
    Yes. Nonpublic school pupils who receive special education programs and services must be transported by the school district providing the service if the distance between the nonpublic school and the school or site exceeds ¼ of a mile, or for a lesser distance if required by the pupil’s needs as indicated in his/her IEP.
  6. Are handicapped pupils subject to the transportation distance limits which apply to non-handicapped pupils?
    Yes. The same distance limits apply to handicapped pupils as to nonhandicapped pupils except for pupils whose IEPs specify different transportation arrangements.
  7. Are there any limits in how far handicapped pupils may be transported between home and school daily?
    Yes. Handicapped pupils may not be transported more than 50 miles each way to and from school daily. However, the Commissioner of Education may authorize transportation beyond 50 miles each way if an appropriate nonresidential service, school, or program is not available within 50 miles of the pupil’s home.
  8. Are handicapped pupils entitled to transportation to residential programs regardless of distance?
    Yes. The district must provide transportation for pupils with handicapping conditions to residential programs regardless of distance.
  9. Are school districts required to provide transportation to handicapped pupils who are attending summer programs?
    School districts are required to provide transportation to special education programs for pupils whose handicapping conditions are severe enough to need a structured learning environment 12 months a year and to those attending summer programs, if the Individualized Education Plan so specifies.

F. Transportation for Dual Enrollment

  1. Are school districts required to provide transportation for nonpublic school pupils to dual enrollment programs which are held in the public schools?
    Yes. Nonpublic school pupils who receive services under the provisions for dual enrollment which appear in Section 3602 (c) (4) of the Education Law must be provided with transportation by the school district providing the services if the distance between the public and the nonpublic schools exceed ¼ mile or of indicated in the pupil’s IEP.
  2. Is the school district required to provide transportation between the public and nonpublic school when the distance between the schools exceeds 15 miles?
    Yes. Transportation which exceeds 15 miles must be provided for a pupil in a dual enrollment program.

G. Transportation for Children Less than School Age

  1. Are school districts required to provide transportation for a child of less than school age to and from the school which his or her parent legally attends pursuant to Section 3635 1.f. of Education Law?
    No. However, a board of education may, at its discretion, provide such transportation and receive transportation aid for this service.

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Last Updated: February 6, 2012