Students with multiple homes face transportation challenges


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Students board the bus to go to school daily as main mode of transportation

Why should students with multiple homes be denied transportation from one of his or her residence? Students with multiple homes who reside in the same school district are only allowed one address for transportation to and from school, despite both of their guardians paying taxes and living within the correct parameters. This would mean that both guardians live in the Somerset Hills district, which includes Bernardsville, Far Hills, Bedminster, and Peapack Gladstone. Due to both guardians living in the same district and paying taxes, there should be no issues in receiving two modes of transportation to and from Bernards High.

Transportation is provided to the address listed as the primary residence or to whichever guardian has the majority of custody – the township in which the student resides for the majority of the school year. Due to the student living in multiple towns, various boards would have to contribute in paying for dual transportation. This poses an issue because multiple towns are not willing to pay for transportation.

Frank Riccio, who is in charge of transportation, said that, “This procedure is covered in the NJ administrative code. For lack of a better description these are rules that must be followed by state agencies, school districts, etc.”

The New Jersey Administrative Code is “an official publication of the State of NJ and compiles all effective laws and rules adopted by the State that governs public schools,” said Jinnee DeMarco, the business administrator for the Somerset Hills District.

The section of the New Jersey Administrative Code that specifically addresses this issue is 6A:27-6.5, discussing transportation for students with shared custody. The code allows for the district’s Board of Education to be responsible for transportation of a student. This code also states that the Board of Education has to be responsible for transportation from only one house in the school district to school.

This is an unfair regulation, which poses a disadvantage to a number of students. Of the sixty-one students recorded to have multiple addresses, twenty-two students have two households within the Somerset Hills School District. About 36% of students with multiple homes could be affected by these issues. Many caretakers have to go out of their way to drive a kid to school when they could normally be provided transport to and from school. If the student did not have two housing units, he or she would be allowed to get transportation from any of their current homes; but, due to the student’s shared custody and living situation, the transport is limited to only being provided to and from one of the homes.

The students with this predicament are eligible for transport in conformity with most of the state codes regarding transportation. The only obstruction to this is the code within the N.J.A.C. which states that all students have a certain amount of money that can be spent on their transportation and that limit may not be exceeded. With two modes of transport, students with dual custody would exceed the amount of money that is willing to be spent per student on transportation.

It is unreasonable for children who have both guardians that reside in the same district to be held to the same standards as a student with a single home. As an individual student, his or her family pays double the amount of money in taxes as the average student with only one home; therefore, students whose guardians share dual custody should be allowed to have two modes of transportation to and from school.