Days before The Boy started school, I got a letter from the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) with the bus information. It was for the wrong school.
When I called to inquire, I was given the runaround and everyone was passing the buck. I was told that it could take up to TWO WEEKS before The Boy could be placed on a route.
The Boy missed his first day of school. I had to take a vacation day from work. But with all the drama of last year, I have used up most of my vacation days. There was no way I could take two weeks off from work to stay home with The Boy because the OPT screwed up.
And more importantly - THE BOY NEEDED TO BE IN SCHOOL.
I got it fixed. I made calls and sent emails and The Boy was on the bus on the second day of school. (Two weeks my ---!)
New York City special needs kids have been in school for less than 2 weeks and already the OPT has made the papers.
Have you read THIS by Ben Chapman of the NY Daily News -
Five-hour hell ride home from school torments autistic boyTHE FIRST DAY of school was tough enough for little Levi Vidal, a 3-year-old from Brooklyn, but the five-hour bus ride home reduced the autistic boy to crying hysterics. Levi’s trip with disabled classmates from the Gramercy School in midtown became an unbearable hell ride with no water and no relief.Then my blog pal wrote this post about her 5 year old autistic son being on the bus for THREE HOURS.
And then, my BFF who has a 4 year daughter on the spectrum was sent an email from her daughters school stating this:
Citing budgetary reasons, the DOE changed _____'s busing company starting the current school year. After working with Selby Busing Company for more than a decade, a new bus vendor- Consolidated Bus Service run by Professional Charter Company has been thrust on us.Thus far, Consolidated Bus has proven to be completely ineffective. Only 25% of the families at _____ have been contacted by new bus company and the 75% majority hasn't heard about their kids pickup/droffoff time/driver name etc, despite the fact the school year has already begun.Furthermore, those 25% families who have been contacted (including me) have received multiple bizarre phone calls with conflicting pickup times and driver names and strange buses arriving at their door at 7AM in the morning.
All attempts by _____ and _____ to contact the Consolidated Bus office have been futile as Consolidated Bus officials have been totally unresponsive.
Um....the Consolidated Bus Company is the bus company Chapman mentions in his article.
Crystal Alfano, the mom behind the FB page New York City Parents Fed Up With Transportation Troubles posted this update:
If I strap one of my kids to a chair for five hours and deny them access to food, water, the bathroom and make them sit in their own bodily waste, I'm an abusive parent. If I do it to a student, I lose my teaching licenses. If I do it to a child on board a bus, it's completely OK? Why does Stephen Genovese owner of Consolidated, Professional Charter, paratransit, Jodi, Access A Ride, and who knows how many other companies get away with it? How many more kids must he abuse before he is taken off the road. Chancellor Walcott, do the right thing and take away the rest of his contracts.I've been putting The Boy on a schools since he was 2. 9 years old - he couldn't speak and was still in diapers. So many of our kids have difficulty with speech - they cannot speak up for their rights and as their parents - WE MUST SPEAK UP & FIGHT FOR THEM.
Crystal is organizing a Bus Rally and Press Conference and parent support - hell, ALL support is crucial. Here is the info:
When: Wed. Sept 19
Time: 11:00 AM
Where: The Tweed Courthouse, DOE headquarters located at 52 Chambers Street
Other ways to support or who to call regarding Transportation issues:
- Sherwin James, the head of Pre-K Special ED bussing - firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact your Borough President and/or City Council Members
Contact the Office of Pupil Transportation