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Mills v. Maumee City School Dist.

December 5, 2008

IAN MILLS, ETC., ET AL. APPELLANTS
v.
MAUMEE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT APPELLEE



Trial Court No. CI 06-7487.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Handwork, J.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

{¶1} This case is before the court on appeal from the December 31, 2007 judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, journalized on January 7, 2008, which granted summary judgment in favor of appellee, Maumee City School District ("the District"), and against appellants, Ian Mills, through his parent and next friend, Patricia Lynch, on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

{¶2} Ian Mills lived within Maumee's school district, but attended St. John's Jesuit School ("St. Johns"), a nonpublic school located outside of Maumee's district, but within 30 minutes travel time and more than two miles from appellants' residence. Since 2005, appellants have sought yellow bus transportation from their home to St. Johns. Initially, the District determined that it would be "impractical" to transport Ian and offered payment in lieu of transportation, which appellants rejected. Following a hearing with the Ohio Department of Education, the District passed the following resolution: "Be it resolved that the Maumee Board of Education, after a fact finding hearing on October 2, 2005 determining that Ian Mills was not impractical for transportation to the St. John's High School, agrees to provide transportation." Although appellant asserts that this resolution states that the District would provide yellow bus service to St. John's, the District provided appellant with a Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority ("TARTA") bus schedule and phone number for TARTA's Call-a-Ride, and instructed appellant to call between 6:00 and 6:15 a.m. every day for transportation.

{¶3} On December 6, 2006, appellants filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the District. Appellants argued that Ian met the statutory requirements for actual yellow bus transportation on the District's yellow buses, pursuant to R.C. 3327.01, and that the District had agreed to provide him such transportation, but failed to do so. Appellants asserted that the three hour round-trip bus route on TARTA was an unacceptable and an improper "alternative means of transportation." Further, because the District provided yellow bus service to other nonpublic schools outside of its geographic limits, appellants argued that the District arbitrarily and capriciously denied Ian transportation equivalent to actual yellow bus transportation and violated his equal rights.

{¶4} For the 2007-2008 school year, the District declared that transportation to St. John's was practical for all 25 Maumee residents attending St. John's. The District offered a route that combined the use of the District's yellow bus service and TARTA bus service. Initially, the District purchased tokens for the students and then purchased passes. Ian's TARTA bus pass was valid from August 28, 2007 through June 4, 2008, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and cost the District $1.20 per school day.

{¶5} On August 3, 2007, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Appellants argued that the District was compelled to provide yellow bus transportation. Specifically, appellants argued that (1) the District agreed to do so in its 2005 Resolution; (2) Hartley v. Berlin-Milan Local School Dist. (1982), 69 Ohio St.2d 415, mandated that "actual school bus transportation" be provided for nonpublic school students; (3) Hartley, rather than Ohio Adm.Code 3301-83-19, controlled because the TARTA time schedule in this case was "not practical"; and (4) even if Ohio Adm.Code 3301-83-19 applied, TARTA, as a "public transit vehicle," was not a reasonable alternative because the changes in TARTA's schedules and routes were beyond the District's control. The District, on the other hand, argued that TARTA, as a "public transit vehicle," was an acceptable method of transportation pursuant to Ohio Adm.Code 3301-83-19(B), and that, pursuant to Hensley v. Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (1997), 121 Ohio App.3d 603, the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Ohio Constitutions are not violated by a school district providing yellow bus service to some students and public transportation, via TARTA buses, to others.

{¶6} The trial court held on December 31, 2007, that Ohio Adm.Code 3301-83-19 allowed the District to use TARTA buses to fulfill its statutory duty pursuant to R.C. 3327.01 to provide transportation for Ian to and from St. John's. Specifically, the trial court held that TARTA was "under contract" with the District to provide Ian transportation because the District purchased TARTA passes, costing $1.20 per pass per day, which were valid from August 28, 2007 through June 4, 2008, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

{¶7} Appellants appealed the decision of the trial court and raises the following assignments of error:

{¶8} First assignment of error: "The Maumee District Board agreed and promised by formal board resolution 'to provide transportation' to Ian, then reneged on its written resolution and has never fully provided him with its yellow bus transportation. The trial court ignored this issue in its decision, although appellant presented it."

{¶9} Second assignment of error: "The trial court erred in its analysis of Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-83-19, because TARTA does not meet either of two separate requirements in the definition of 'public transit vehicles' stated in OAC 3301-83-19(B)."

{¶10} Third assignment of error: "The trial court erred in failing to address whether the Maumee School District's actions were arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. The trial court did not consider this issue in its decision, although appellants presented it."

{¶11} This court notes at the outset that in reviewing a motion for summary judgment, we must apply the same standard as the trial court. Lorain Natl. Bank v. Saratoga Apts. (1989), 61 Ohio App.3d 127, 129. Summary judgment will be granted when there remains no genuine issue of material fact and, when construing the evidence most strongly in favor of the non-moving party, reasonable minds can only conclude that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Civ.R. 56(C).

{ΒΆ12} In their first assignment of error, appellants argue that Hartley, supra, establishes that yellow school bus transportation, when it is practical, must be provided for all nonpublic school students. Appellants additionally argue that the District is bound by its promise, made in its 2005 Resolution, to provide Ian with yellow bus transportation. Appellants assert that the trial court erred in ...


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