Variances from Stop-to-School Rules

A variance is an exception from the Office of Pupil Transportation that authorizes transportation for a student who would not ordinarily be eligible. A variance can  be granted only by the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and must be applied for annually. 

To apply for these variances, parents and guardians, along with their child's school, (and physician in the case of a medical variance) must complete the appropriate variance request available in the Key Documents section on the right. Variances may be submitted for the following reasons:

Medical Conditions
Parents and guardians may apply for a medical variance if their child becomes incapacitated due to a serious medical condition and the child’s physician says that the child may attend classes if appropriate transportation is provided. 

When applying for a medical variance, parents and guardians should complete the HIPPA Privacy Authorization Release Form and should have page two of the medical variance form completed by the child's physician. Forms should then be brought to the child's school, where additional information will be provided, before the completed forms are sent to OPT by the school. The form must be signed by the student's doctor and by the school's principal. It will then be reviewed by a DOE physician who will make a determination about whether to approve the requested transportation.

To request a variance due to medical conditions complete this form.

Hazardous Conditions
Parents and guardians of students in kindergarten through 6th grade may request a variance due to unsafe conditions along a child’s normal route to school or the route to a school bus stop or public transit stop. Safety exceptions are limited to circumstances that result primarily from unsafe traffic, traffic control conditions, dangerous crossings, or areas impassable to pedestrians. Students are expected to walk along established streets and sidewalks available to regular auto or pedestrian traffic, or satisfactory off-road paths, in order to reach school. Some of the reasons for which safety variances from policy cannot be given include: 

  • Unsavory persons loitering in the area the child must travel to get to school 
  • General concerns about crime in the area
  • Unpaved roads or unpaved sidewalks
  • School sessions that require the child to travel to school or return home in the dark
  • Abandoned buildings lining the street leading to school or bus or subway stop
  • Parks with through streets or sidewalks that the child must travel

When reviewing these requests, OPT may recommend an alternative walking path that avoids the hazardous conditions. In no case will OPT recommend a walking path for a student below 7th grade that requires a child to walk further than his or her normal eligibility distance as described in the chart found here

To request a variance due to hazardous conditions complete this form.

Emergency Conditions
Parents and guardians may request a variance due to an emergency condition or due to other circumstances not discussed above. Some examples of these conditions include:

  • The student has been the victim of a crime that may put them in danger travelling to school on public transportation.
  • A court has issued an order of protection.
  • The parents/guardians live in different locations and have joint custody of the student.
  • The family has been displaced from the home due to some emergency and are NOT residing in a shelter.
  • After verification it is determined that OPT's computer-based measurement of the distance from home to school is incorrect.

To request a variance due to emergency conditions complete this form.

Shelter Variance—Students in Temporary Housing

Whenever a student is placed in temporary housing or a domestic violence shelter, a request for emergency transportation should be initiated by personnel at the shelter. Shelter variance request forms should be available at all City-funded temporary housing and domestic violence shelters and trained personnel should be available in these facilities to assist parents and guardians in completing these requests. If shelter personnel are not available to provide this assistance, parents and guardians should contact the Content Expert for the Office of Students in Temporary Housing for assistance.

Students in grades K-12 who have been placed in temporary housing (homeless shelters, hotels, etc.) by public authorities are exempt from age and distance requirements for as long as they reside in that temporary housing. All subsequent requests for the student’s transportation must follow normal procedures. For more information, click the links below.
Chancellor's Regulation A-780 (Students in Temporary Housing)
McKinney-Vento Students in Temporary Housing Guide for Parents