On appeal from State Board of Education.
Michels, Brody and D'Annunzio. The opinion of the court was delivered by Brody, J.A.D.
Affirming the initial decision of Administrative Law Judge Springer and the decision of the Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education (State Board) determined that respondent Glen Ridge Board of Education (respondent) is not obliged to pay petitioner a statutory $325 allowance to help defray the cost of transporting his son to a nonprofit private school. The State Board determined that N.J.S.A. 18A:39-1 (the statute) does not require respondent to pay the allowance because the school is more than 20 miles from the pupil's residence. That determination rests on the State Board's decision that an .84-mile driveway, running from the public roadway to the entrance of the school building, must be included in measuring the distance from the pupil's residence to the school. We affirm.
The relevant portion of the statute provides:
Whenever in any district there are pupils residing remote from any schoolhouse, the board of education of the district may make rules and contracts for the transportation of such pupils to and from school, including the transportation of school pupils to and from school other than a public school, except such school as is operated for profit in whole or in part.
When any school district provides any transportation for public school pupils to and from school pursuant to this section, transportation shall be supplied*fn1 to school pupils residing in such school district in going to and from any remote school other than a public school, not operated for profit in whole or in part, located within the State not more than 20 miles from the residence of the pupil;
Any transportation to a school other than a public school shall be pursuant to the same rules and regulations promulgated by the State board as governs transportation to any public school.
Respondent supplies transportation to pupils going to and from remote public schools and therefore, subject to the limitations in the statute, it is obliged to do the same for petitioner's son. Although respondent is obliged to supply transportation to and from a private school if the school is remote, the obligation does not include supplying transportation to and from a school that is so remote as to be more than 20 miles from the pupil's residence.
The statute leaves to the State Board the task of promulgating rules and regulations that delineate the distance from a pupil's residence that renders the school "remote," and to establish the manner of measuring that distance when determining not only whether the school is remote but also whether it is so remote as to exceed 20 miles.
The State Board discharged this task by promulgating N.J.A.C. 6:21-1.3, which provides as follows:
(a) The words "remote from the schoolhouse" shall mean beyond 2 1/2 miles for high school pupils (grades 9 through 12) and beyond two miles for elementary pupils (grades kindergarten through eight), except for educationally handicapped pupils.
(b) For the purpose of determining remoteness in connection with pupil transportation, measurement shall be made by the shortest route along public roadways or public walkways from the entrance of the pupil's residence nearest such public roadway or ...