Parents to Improve School Transportation
October 19, 2010
Matthew Berlin, Director, Office of Pupil Transportation
Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, Department of Education
Dear Director Berlin and Chancellor Klein,
We are parents of children who attend special education programs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder Nest, and who take NYC school buses to various schools. Our unacceptable situation has forced us to come to your office with some simple demands:
Our children must arrive at school on time (e.g. for P.S. 112M, at 8:20 a.m.; for P.S. 206M, at 8:05 a.m.).
The length of our children’s bus journey to and from school must be reasonable, and in accordance with their Individual Education Program mandates.
Their school transportation situation must be as stable as possible. Input from the schools based on the past year’s experience with busing should factor into routing decisions, to avoid creation of unsustainable routes.
We are opposed to cut-backs that are in contradiction with these goals.
We maintain that these are reasonable demands and that we are simply asking for what our children are entitled to under the law, and in most cases mandated by their IEPs. IDEA and other federal laws guarantee a “free, appropriate public education to every student in the least restrictive environment.” Our children’s dire school transport situation compromises this.
Since the beginning of the current school year all our children have, at times, arrived at school more than one hour late. Some routes officially pick them up from home after school starts! Many of our children have spent two hours or more on the school bus in one direction. Bus routes have been changed multiple times, on both legs of the journey, and it is only mid-October. Each time a route changes, our children have to endure significant disruption and stress. The children with ASD experience extreme difficulty in adjusting to unexpected changes in routines.
We file complaints with OPT when we have a grievance, but the solutions provided are almost always temporary. Holding an impartial hearing when an IEP violation occurs may provide temporary relief for some individual children, but it is clear to us that system-wide failings are taking place.
We certainly do not fault the hard-working men and women who get our kids to and from school. It is time for us as parents to have our collective voice heard. We would appreciate your immediate attention to resolving this crisis.
Our children will have many challenges in life—because they have special needs—simply getting to and from school should not be one of them.
Signed by more than 50 parents and supporters.