Thursday, September 4, 2014

School bus service for kids with special needs and another WHA?! moment

Motherhood's unofficial motto is "If it's not one thing, it's another." Special needs motherhood's unofficial motto is "If it's not one thing, it's a hundred others." It seems like I am always pushing for something, looking into something, figuring out something—or putting out a burning fire for something.

This week's fire is brought to you by Max's bus company. In the scheme of things, as far as I can tell from what I've heard from other parents, they are a good company. But we've had several disconcerting incidents over the years, including one in which I found out Max wasn't being correctly strapped in by the aide and another in which Max's bus arrived 40 minutes late and we weren't notified because the driver didn't have our phone number.

I've spoken with our district coordinator several times about the bus company, and had a long discussion with him back in March. One thing I wanted to be sure of was that the company had a protocol for making sure all kids were off the bus, as there have been a number of news stories in recent years about kids accidentally left on the bus. (If you haven't yet checked with your bus service, do it.) I also told him that we never know which bus company and driver are picking Max up for the first day of school until, literally, the day before. Last year, the driver called us at 10:30 the night before school started to let us know she was coming. All together now: WTF!!!

Cut to Tuesday night. Max begins school on Thursday and, wait for it, no word from the company. I send a strongly (STRONGLY) worded letter to the district coordinator, saying I wanted him to call me with the information Wednesday morning, and give him my cell number as I'll be at work. To his credit, he calls first thing in the morning and says that the bus company told him Max's information "fell through a crack" and that they have told him they've called and given me the information. "Actually, nobody has called," I say.

Then I again remind him how every year, we play the same game: Guess If Max's Bus Is Going To Show Up! And I say, strongly (STRONGLY) that he needs to address this last-minute issue with the bus company. He explains that they are often juggling kids who come in and out of the system, but I point out that it is not unreasonable to give a parent even just a couple days of advance notice. He tells me they will call. They do not, and I email him. Several more emails ensue. If the timing of the pickup has changed, I'm going to need to readjust our morning schedule. Finally, he tells me they have called my cell (nope) and he shares the information I need. Happily, the pick-up time is about the same.

When I arrive home, I find out that the bus driver dialed the house at 11:00 a.m.

It's as if the bus company has never done this before.

It shouldn't have to be this hard.

End of rant. Back to life...and 99 other things.

And on a brighter back-to-school note:

Image: Flickr/Ian Chapin


  1. how frustrating!! Our big issue was with my 13 old's gym teacher telling her to remove her medical alert bracelet for epilepsy. They started school last Wednesday and she had gym for the 1st time of Friday. On Tuesday I had an hour-long meeting w/ the assistant principal, school nurse, guidance counselor, district head of PE, my daughter's 504 case manager, the gym teacher and my daughter. They were able to switch her study hall so now she has a different teacher. Now to deal with the new bus driver who requested my 10 year old who does not have a left arm ride special education for safety reasons. Never mind the fact she has been riding a normal bus since pre-k! Your so right, If is not one thing its 20 others.

    1. Update: Called transportation this morning. (called last night but was told to call in the morning) Left a message. Got a call from transportation at 11am. Was told its not *their* issue as it involves special education. Called the number they told me to call at District office. Was transferred about a million times and then put on hold. Told I should have requested a IEP meeting before school started for a change in transportation needs. Spent 10 minutes explaining that *the bus driver* was the one who said a change was needed. Transferred to personnel division. Told this is a transportation issue and to call them. Said I had already. Told to call again. Left a message at transportation. That's where we are at. I'm calling my daughter's principal to try to figure this mess out. Then I get to call Verizon to find out why my 13 year old's new phone(her birthday was yesterday) worked in store but not anywhere else. Thankful Im not working until 5pm(nurse-typically on day shift but switched w/ someone for this week)


  2. At the LC I work at, we have had, and I'm barely exaggeratin, about 25 problems with busses since Augusg 14 (day before the first day of school).

    Problem 1: No one, literally no one, gave us any information whatsoever about when kids were getting picked up. We have 6 kids riding the bus, and four different busses. We received zero information until the director caught a bus doing bus runs the day before the first day of school.

    Problem 2: Bus Driver: I'm publish up Garrett
    Director: So, you're picking Emma too. They go to the same school and should be on the same bus.
    Bus Driver: Only Garrett's on my roster.
    Director: *calls Special Services*
    Bus Driver: *calls transportation*
    Special Services: call Transportation
    Transportation: call Special Services
    This problem was not resolved until we were 4 days into school.

    Problem 3: *First day of school*
    Director: Where's Austin, he should be here by now.
    About 5 minutes later we receive a call saying bus driver stopped off Austin as his home, the only person being there is his older brother.
    *2 weeks into school*
    Director: Austin's mom said the problem was fixed. He should be here today.

    Problem 4: The bus driver left, yes LEFT, Austin at school, on purpose. His teacher brought him to daycare that day.

    Problem 5: The buses run anywhere from 15-45 minutes early/late without so much as a phone call.

    Problem 6: As found out yesterday, his drivers will give child to essentially anybody, no questions asked.

    And we've had multiple other problems since school started

    1. Tisa that is so unfortunate. The biggest issue here bus wise is keeping track of who rides what bus. We have 25 kids in our BOCES program(3 classes) and in this program alone(there are 3 other special ed programs, this one is for kids with autism) there are kids from 6 districts riding 7 buses. And the buses are not always the same in the afternoon. one of my greatest fears is that one of my students is going to not end up home or at school because most of them transfer buses. Many of my students(I work with K-2) have very limited verbal skills and most do not have a sense of location. I know many of the parents fear this too. All students have large tags listing the bus they(should-half the time these buses never show) take from their homeschool(or house) to BOCES and from BOCES to their homeschool (or house) but it is up to the district to make sure they get on the right transfer. And don't get me started on summer transportation.Our transportation coordinator always has her hands full- especially this time of year. School started yesterday.

    2. Summer actually goes pretty good. It's just right around this time that kills us. So far, today has been relatively problem free, but we still have a few bus issues that need to be sorted out. It's really frustrating.

  3. Good grief, what a huge stressor for you ladies! Where I live in Canada we lack some things that you get, like special needs kids don't get speech therapy once they are school aged, but our bussing rocks. Two weeks before school starts we get a letter with our pick up and drop off times. The week before the bus driver makes a home visit to introduce themselves. The pick up/drop off times are always within a 10 minute time frame and we are notified by text/email if there is a snow delay. This is co-ordinated by a company that transports 45,000 children and I haven't had a problem in 6 years (touch wood!).

    1. That sounds like an AWESOME bus company. We only meet the bus drivers for summer school, where they come in, ask if a harness is needed, and what type of discipline the child needs. Otherwise, we're lucky if we find out anything before the first day of school.

  4. I don't take the bus. This could be why.

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Thanks for sharing!

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