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2002 Opinions

Date:   September 4, 2002
Prepared By:   Charles Murphy
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   02-09 Revised 9-16-02
Staff Contact:   Charlie Hood
MEMORANDUM OPINION
TO: Frank Kruppenbacher, General Counsel
Orange County Public Schools
FROM: Daniel J. Woodring, General Counsel
SUBJECT: Two Mile Walking Distance, Hazardous Walking, Middle and High School Students
RE: Your letter of August 9, 2002

QUESTIONS PRESENTED:

1. In measuring the two (2) mile walking distance for middle and high school students for purpose of establishing eligibility for transportation service, may the School District base said measurement upon a determination of what is a two (2) mile non-hazardous walking route? In performing its measurement, the School District would use the definition of hazardous conditions as defined by Florida Statute 234.021.

2. If the answer to Number 1 above is yes, will the State provide funding for the routes created based upon the two (2) mile non-hazardous walking distance measurement?

CONCLUSION: No.

DISCUSSION: The standard for measuring the two mile walking distance referenced in question 1, is found in Rule 6A-3.001(3), Florida Administrative Code, which provides the following:

A reasonable walking distance for any student who is not otherwise eligible for transportation pursuant to Section 236.083, Florida Statutes, is any distance not more than two (2) miles between the home and school or one and one-half (1 1/2) miles between the home and the assigned bus stop. Such distance shall be measured from the closest pedestrian entry point of the property where the student resides to the closest pedestrian entry point of the assigned school building or to the assigned bus stop. The pedestrian entry point of the residence shall be where private property meets the public right- of-way. The district shall determine the shortest pedestrian route whether or not it is accessible to motor vehicle traffic.

This standard does not contemplate an adjustment for hazardous walking conditions.

Pursuant to Section 234.01(1)(b), Florida Statutes, school districts “may provide transportation for public school students in membership in grades 7 through 12, if such students are subjected to hazardous walking conditions as provided in s.234.021 while en route to or from school.” (Emphasis supplied.) (See Section 1006.21(3)(b), Florida Statutes, (2002) for comparable language in the new School Code). Section 234.021, Florida Statutes, provides procedures “concerning a condition perceived to be hazardous to students . . . who live within the two mile limit.” Id. at (1)(a) (Emphasis supplied.) (See Section 1006.23(3), Florida Statutes, (2002) for comparable language in the new School Code).

With respect to question 2, state funding for a district’s optional transportation of students pursuant to Section 234.01(1)(b), Florida Statutes, is limited by references in Section 236.083(1)(e), Florida Statutes, to the General Appropriations Act; it appears no funding source has been provided for this purpose. The reference to state funding of transportation at the option of a school board based on hazardous walking conditions was omitted from the new School Code and thus, state funding based on hazardous walking conditions appears to be limited to elementary school students whose grade level does not exceed grade 6. See Section 1011.68(1)(e), Florida Statutes, (2002). It should be noted that the referenced provisions and most other provisions of the new School Code take effect January 7, 2003.


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