Sunday, August 28, 2011

Busing Issues for Special Needs Children

The Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) announced that on September 8, the first day of the school year, yellow school buses will take 150,000 children to their schools and back home. For children with special needs who will be transported in a mini-van, parents can expect a letter confirming the bus route and pick-up time by August 29th.

OPT has come under fire in recent years because of budget-cutting measures that affected many of the city’s children. Students from multiple schools now share the same bus, bus routes were consolidated and lengthened, and students with special needs were required to provide medical documentation to qualify for a seat in a mini-van. There have been on-going transportation problems with the 60,000 special needs children who ride the smaller mini-van and have often suffered from inferior service, according to Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children. “In past years we have heard from too many families about children not picked up at all and missing hours, sometimes days, and sometimes more, of critical school time,” she said. In addition, students with limited travel time requirements have been on the bus for way too long. OPT responded that it promises to do better and added that “we are making a big effort to communicate with parents about how the OPT system works, what they should do when there’s a problem and what documentation, including medical documentation, is needed to match the right bus service to each child.”

For more read "DOE answers parents' busing questions."

Do you have a child that needs to travel on the mini-vans? What problems have you encountered with OPT? What suggestions do you have to ensure that children have a safe and speedy trip to school and back home? We would love to hear your comments.

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