NEW YORK — Lainie Gutterman has two children with special needs who rely on City Department of Education buses to take them to their special-needs school on Long Island.
But she got a text message from her bus driver that said: “There was a mechanical error, no bus today, bus running again on Monday.”
On this first week of school, it was a cascade of problems with the All-American Bus Company and it meant that her 9-year-old son with autism and her 6-year-old daughter with chromosomal duplications could not get to school on Friday.
“You’re dealing with special needs kids who need stability,” Gutterman said. “They need routine. They need to go to school,” she added.
Beth Pilchik had a different, but equally disturbing problem getting her special needs son to his Upper West Side school on time. With no way to track her son’s bus to see when pickup would be, Beth called The Office of Pupil Transportation and didn’t get a return call until 12 hours later.
“When I called they said they don’t have the GPS. They weren’t set up,” Pilchik said. “They didn’t even want to document my call,” she added.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos sponsored the bill mandating GPS on all of the 11,000 city school buses by Sept. 5.
“I’m very concerned about what I am hearing from parents. that the GPS is not on all the buses,” Kallos told PIX11 News. “And that we can’t keep track of where all the kids are, very concerned,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the NYC Department of Education told PIX11 that the GPS was up and running on all 11,000 city school buses and that OPT calls must be returned within 24 hours.
In a statement, Department of Education spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said “We successfully bused 149,000 students yesterday, and 93 percent of routes arrived on time. We’re improving and altering routes if necessary and immediately addressing individual concerns families may have.”