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Special Education Busing: Another Battle Won

Special Education Busing: Another Battle Won

Angel started summer school on July 1 and from day one his busing has been a nightmare. Let me restate that: Special Education Busing in NYC has been a nightmare for Angel and many children with special needs like him.

The sad thing is that we went through the same thing last September. Back then, I spent my time contacting the Office of Pupil Transportation’s (OPT) hotline and getting complaint numbers. Yet, Angel was still being subjected to commute times that ran over three hours. Pure Insanity! That was Fall 2012. You can read how I got that situation resolved here.

Fast forward to the first day of summer school (ESY) 2013. Not only did we have a new driver and matron but Angel’s ride home took 3.5 hours. (Why did we choose a school so far away? It is appropriate for his academic and therapeutic needs and I will leave it at that.)

special education bus

When Angel got home at 5:53pm on the first day of school, I was furious. No child should be subjected to such a long ride on the school bus. Instead of going into the mundane details of what we endured each day let me share the steps I took to get this resolved.

  1. I asked the bus driver which borough each child on Angel’s bus came from. There were two children from Manhattan (one from the East side and one from the West side) and four from the Bronx, including Angel.
  2. I called the OPT customer service hotline and was given the name of the router who was responsible for the children on Angel’s bus.
  3. I started a log of the times Angel arrived home every day, what the bus driver said each time, and what I was told whenever I spoke to our router.
  4. I called my router and after several conversations I realized she was not going to be able to help me. She had 30 children to route and frankly I felt like Angel was just a name on a piece of paper. This lady had no idea about traffic patterns during Manhattan rush hour.
  5. I e-mailed the OPT director of the borough where Angel’s’ school is located and cc’d the assistant director and the citywide executive director. (I heard back from the director in less than 45minutes. YES!) My e-mails included dates, times, and conversation details regarding Angel’s commute. They also included who I called and who I spoke to.
  6. Every day for the past two weeks I continued to update my log.
  7. The first change the director made was to remove one Manhattan child from Angel’s bus. His commute time improved… slightly. I e-mailed her again and again providing her with concrete data on the situation until she removed the second Manhattan child.
  8. Finally, Angel’s evening commute was reduced to 1.5 hours. My persistence led to a 50% reduction in his commute time and he does not have limited time on his IEP (long story). 1.5 hours may seem like a long time to some but trust me it is an improvement in our world.

Moral of this story: You can follow the chain of command but when that does not work, take it to the top. Know who the decision maker is and be persistent until you get the desired results.

How has busing been for your child this summer? Please share your story in the comments.

Miz Kp
Written by Miz Kp

14 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    July 16, 2013

    What an ordeal! I’m tired just from spending 3 minutes to read what you went through. Here’s to hoping that for next September & July, assignments and routes on buses are arranged with each child’s destination in mind.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 16, 2013

      I hope they stop putting kids from other boroughs on Angel’s bus. It always prolongs his commute when they do that.

      Reply

  2. Avatar
    July 17, 2013

    Hooray for Angel and thanks for your perseverance. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest you thank the router and indicate you expect that they will keep children from the Bronx on a separate bus henceforth.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 17, 2013

      She will be thanked for sure.

      Reply

  3. Avatar
    July 17, 2013

    Congratulations but we really shouldn’t be satisfied until nobody has to hop through so many hoops just to get OPT to follow THEIR OWN RULES!! Imagine what is happening with children whose parents do not have continuous access to internet and phone, or can’t make long calls during their work day. We in PIST believe this is a civil rights violation. Please see our posts at PIST NYC on facebook about filing complaints with USDOE OCR, supporting A 8060 in Albany for school bus training, and more things you can do to improve busing. We’ll soon have the same info on the website http://www.pistnyc.org. Thanks Miz Kp!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 17, 2013

      I totally agree. It is ridiculous when all of this could have been avoided. It is sad that this could very well happen again in September. I will check out your facebook page.

      Reply

  4. Avatar
    July 17, 2013

    first of all opt routers never drove a bus nor most have no transportation industry experience.they try to save money by putting from other boroughs and hope for the best.but the interboro runs are bidded at a higher price.its all about cuttingcost with no regard for the children.god bless your diligence that you took care of your terrible situation.imagine how many others are in the same boat you were in that don’t take control or put on the pay no mind list.you are applauded!!!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 17, 2013

      Thank you. It is sad that they put costs over our children. I am not surprised but really this should not be the norm.

      Reply

  5. Avatar
    July 17, 2013

    What a shame!! These “Routers” should actually get behind the wheel and do a “Dry Run” for some of these routes, then you would see reasonable changes! I’ve been a School Bus Driver for 25 years, transporting children with Special Needs and I’ve had some routes that were horrific!! They were tough for me, so I can imagine how the children felt! We are required to follow the route in the order in which it is given, and many times, drivers would love to make changes to the Route in order to make it easier and faster, ( being out on the road, we know better in what order the pick-ups/drop-offs would be) but unfortunately, we have no choice and

    have to follow OPT’s rules and instructions! These “Routers” should be made up of professional and experienced School Bus Drivers, Matrons, and Parents!!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 17, 2013

      Thanks for commenting Fran. It is good to get a driver’s perspective. I agree that the routers should be people who have a better sense of the streets that the buses go on. They can’t just go by a list and a map. You make good points. If only we can get OPT to listen.

      Reply

  6. Avatar
    July 17, 2013

    It really is the squeeky wheel that gets oiled! It’s unfortunate as someone else said, that it just doesn’t happen the way it’s supposed to. Same thing happened to us back in september. My oldest was getting home an hour and a half late when we live 15 minutes from the school! The bus was going around in circles before it got to my house. The driver said it made perfect sense for her to drop M off first or second but she didnt have authorization to change the route. Ridiculous! It took me a whole month of calling every single day to get it fixed. Now you know why I had to quit my day job.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      July 17, 2013

      Parents like us go through a lot to make sure our kids get what they need. That is ridiculous that it took so long for your child to get home at that hour when he lives so close by.

      Reply

  7. Avatar
    July 18, 2013

    Great job in getting Angel’s bus ride shorten. You shouldn’t have to go through all that trouble but I know it was worth it. Although Angel may not say it, he appreciates it as well. Keep on fighting for Angel.

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    July 20, 2013

    We will fight for the the Angels and Angelholics out there. It’s an outright disgrace the way our kids are being looked over….

    Reply

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