Wednesday, October 26, 2011 7:35:00 AM
The Citywide Council on Special Education’s October 20 public meeting for parents to address Office of Pupil Transportation reps was very interesting.
Again we saw: cases of very young children placed on buses with teens with severe emotional disorders; bus drivers testifying that there should not be routes cut when school begins; rides that deprive children of socialization with their peers at the start of the day in “inclusion” settings; routes that violate time limits written on the IEP; parents having to lay out money for transportation while waiting for OPT errors to be fixed, and other horror stories. PIST commented that the current approach to bu$ing makes education less Free, Appropriate and Public than our children are entitled to.
This year, OPT was ready with a slick power point and not one but three excuse-makers, I mean, executives. Mr. Scarpa promised to let schools be involved in routing if the principal designates a person who s/he trusts to see the children’s addresses (email@example.com for Manhattan and there are others in each other borough, see below*); Mr. Carney denied the rumor that the inspector division was closed, asked us to contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org) if ever in doubt of school bus rumors; and I believe it was Mr. Jacobsen who said there is money for drivers to receive school specific training for working with the children more effectively to prevent and resolve behavior issues (OPT Training 718 482-3797 email@example.com ).
Lauren Katzman of DOE Special Education stated that Transportation should be treated as a related service—part of the child’s education—and suggested bus teams should be invited to discuss Behavior Intervention Plans when that is part of the student’s IEP.
John Englert of CCSE reminded everyone that the idea of a parent-led Busing Task Force could take on new life in this 2-year term of the Council. PIST looks forward to doing whatever we can to support that.
The meeting was beautifully translated Spanish/English, attended by children, and filmed by a CUNY journalism student.
*The OPT point people by borough are:
James Campbell (SI), Frank Jackson (Queens), Richie Scarpa (Manhattan), Diane Beediahram (Brooklyn), Seth Brown (Bronx).
Some find email better for addressing bus route problems including violations of time limits, overcrowding, late arrivals, etc., than phone calls to Customer Service. The usual rule is to take the first initial and the last name @schools.nyc.gov but there are exceptions.