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School Transportation Demands Urgent Attention

11.01.19 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the New York City Department of Education’s transportation data report for the 2018-19 school year:

Last year, we joined many others in calling on the DOE to take bold action to build a school bus system that works for all of the students it is intended to serve.  We were heartened to see Chancellor Carranza pay much-needed attention to this issue.  While the DOE took some positive steps over the past year, there continues to be an urgent need to improve school transportation.  This fall, we heard from distraught parents about buses that did not show up at all, buses that repeatedly arrived late, bus rides that lasted for hours, buses that arrived without the nurse or aide the students required for their medical needs, buses that did not have room for students’ wheelchairs, bus personnel who lack the training needed to assist students with disabilities, and long wait times for assistance from the DOE’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT).  We heard about children who had to miss school because there was no bus in place for them.

The DOE must fix its transportation system for all students, including students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students in foster care.  For students with disabilities, a particularly urgent need is to improve coordination so that students who need medical accommodations on the bus have them in place on the first day of school.  To ensure that students living in shelter can attend and fully participate in school every day, we strongly support Council Member Levin’s bill to create an interagency task force to strengthen transportation for these students.

Another issue that demands immediate attention is bus service for students in foster care.  For students who have been separated from their families and placed in foster homes, school can be a key source of stability. The law requires the DOE to transport students between their foster care placements and schools so they don’t have to transfer when they change placements.  Despite this mandate, the DOE does not guarantee busing to even the youngest students in foster care, often giving them a MetroCard instead.  In fact, today’s report shows that the DOE denied bus service to one out of every four students in foster care who applied, providing only a MetroCard. For students in foster care who cannot travel on their own, a MetroCard is useless.

The City budget adopted in June 2019 stated that the de Blasio Administration would ensure busing for students in foster care, but the City is continuing to deny bus service to these students. 

No student in foster care should be forced to change schools due to a lack of transportation. The City must honor its commitment to ensure busing for students in foster care and meet its obligation under the law.

View press release as a PDF