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Education Reporter

School District Claims Authority Over How Kids Get to School
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Janette Kaddo Marino and her 12-year-old son Adam regularly pedal the four-mile route to Maple Avenue Middle School and back home together. But earlier this year, school officials confronted Marino with a school policy prohibiting elementary and middle school children from biking or walking to the school. Marino is challenging the school district over the policy. At issue is whether public schools can dictate how parents get their children to school.

"This just doesn't seem right to me that the school district would have that kind of authority over a parent," objected Marino in an interview with FoxNews.com. The New York state mother also emphasized that she always rides with her son, and that she is "very safety-oriented."

School superintendent Janice White has granted that the policy was not intended to address any liability concerns, as the school bears no responsibility for incidents on public roadways around the school. She said the measure was "strictly about the intention to keep children safe." White added that administrators have always permitted Maple Avenue High School students to ride their bikes to campus, and bike racks are provided for their use. Marino contends that the "beautiful, wide shoulders" of Route 9 are suitably navigable for her seventh-grade son, an experienced rider who has biked the 300 miles between Buffalo and Albany twice.

At an October 13th meeting, the school board approved a revised policy allowing elementary and middle school kids to ride bikes or walk to school if a parent or guardian files a registration note with the school and accompanies the child, and if school administrators and planning committees have "determined that the conditions exist under which bikes may safely access school property." Furthermore, the policy states, school administrators will "develop regulations to specify locations, conditions and requirements for such access and modify them as circumstances change."

Marino called the newly adopted measure "jargon" and maintains the school board is "still involving themselves in something they have no right to be involved with." (FoxNews.com, 10-03-09; The Times Union, 10-14-09)

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