Buses are Unreliable for Students in The Riverwards
For a lot of parents, getting their child to school on time is a top priority. Many rely on the district-run bus services to accomplish this task. However, those services aren’t always up to par, some students are often picked up late and occasionally never at all.
According to Philly.com since the beginning of the school year Monica Klimas’ son, Danny Gallagher, who takes a bus from Bridesburg to his school in Northern Liberties, has repeatedly been late due to the inconsistent behavior of the bus.
Danny, 11, a sixth grader, has been keeping a log with his mom containing the dates and times of the bus’ arrival throughout the year. The bus times have been unreliable and, on two days in a row in December, never even showed up. It’s not just the picking up, it’s the dropping off as well. Once, he didn’t even get home until 5:30. it was a two-hour bus ride home for the young student.
“His day was longer than mine,” Klimas explained to Philly.com. She is a optician working in East Falls. She doesn’t drive a car so, sometimes when the bus is late or doesn’t show up, she has to pay a $30 cab fare to get her son to school.
Klimas has called and emailed the school district numerous times with no response.
Danny is a special education student who has Down syndrome and is enrolled in a new life-skills program which he misses when he is late.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has been contacted by the local Coalition of Special Education Advocates last year when they filed a formal complaint on behalf of special-ed students whose transportation problems were getting in the way of their progress at school
A state investigation surveyed 254 schools about this specific problem. The investigation looked at transportation pertaining specifically to special-ed students in the 2014-15 year. 93 schools took the survey and 26 of those reported no issues. However, the 67 other schools found that, on 10 occasions, busses failed to pick a student up and a staggering 392 times, the bus was late.
As a result of the survey, the state is now monitoring transportation services to any schools that have special-ed programs. They have also said that special-ed students are entitled to “compensatory education services” in lieu of the missed “free and appropriate public education” which is required by law.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard is aware of the problem and said,
“We’re definitely not meeting that [obligation] all the time, the expectation is on us to get it right.” He went on to say, “we’re dealing with a very large urban transportation system, almost like SEPTA, with 1,600 routes. There are going to be problems with traffic and bus breakdowns that cause late arrivals for students.”
Parents having problems with district-provided transportation can call 215-400-4350, a hotline established as a result of the state investigation. For help securing compensatory services for a child’s missed instruction, contact the Education Law Center at 215-238-6970 or visit this site.