FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 20, 2022
With Us and Parents to Improve School Transportation (PIST NYC) will present an evening of Digital Storytelling through Video Projection Mapping to promote the School Bus Bill of Rights.
On May 21, 2022 starting at 8:30 p.m. Parents to Improve School Transportation (PIST NYC), and With Us will premiere a video on the building of 51 Chambers St, NYC, NY across from the Department of Education (DOE), to campaign for the School Bus Bill of Rights.
The campaign seeks to empower stakeholders for better busing rights. This event will feature video projections of stakeholders– school bus riders and their loved ones, union drivers and attendants– who are affected by flaws in the current school transportation system for NYC children and youth. ASL captioning and English subtitles are included.
Sara Catalinotto and Johnnie Stevens, founders of PIST NYC, emphasize the timing of this event to push the referendum forward. Busing issues affect students from all walks of life–both special education and general education– and often prevent students from equitable access to time in the classroom. Catalinotto argues that: “This supposed public service – which in fact is 90% run by for-profit vendors – is unreliable despite being mandated by civil rights laws such as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), Section 504, and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, along with State education regulations.”
New York Appleseed’s new research on yellow bus service data https://www.nyappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/NYA_YellowBusReport_April2022_Final-1.pdf concludes that “For our schools to be truly equitable, inclusive, and integrated and serve all students well, this resource and the policies and practices that regulate it need to be updated, and most importantly, these updates must be informed by those closest to the problem.”
The lack of equity for better busing affects stakeholders and students across communities: https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2022/attorney-general-james-sues-bus-companies-polluting-new-york-city-communities. The Citywide Council for District 75, led by parents of students with complex special education needs, reports rampant neglect. No show or lack of bus paraprofessionals deepens the problem: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd1KIG2VkdDofAB5VhMWu-CgOaOC2qSn0qqNJcziOR_xzUymA/viewform. Furthermore, children in shelters and foster care are profoundly impacted by this issue: https://www.advocatesforchildren.org/node/1975 and https://www.advocatesforchildren.org/node/1956.
Union contracts are up for renegotiation in June 2023. Amalgamated Transit Union local 1181-1061 reported up to 400 vacancies for bus drivers and the DOE’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) commented in a September 2021 public meeting that the city was short 550 school bus drivers.
Based on input that PIST receives from parents and advocates who gather complaints, problems are: lack of information about bus routes and bus status, only 40% of families are able to connect to the DOE’s internet systems (aka NYCSA), the OPT phone line has only English-speaking personnel and no late hours for working parents, working drivers handle two routes each morning and afternoon which complicates punctuality, COVID-19 tracing and the resolution of bullying incidents, the DOE offers a selective prepaid car service which requires a caretaker to travel with the child; something most working parents cannot do. Lastly, issues of equity in this day and age of technology further impacts families and stakeholders from gaining pertinent and valuable busing information. In short, bus delays are often so egregious that students cannot start the school year on time and miss valuable time in class,other supports such as free breakfast, related service therapy sessions, academic recovery services, field trips, and the means to attend internship programs–all of which are imperative to learning.
According to Johnnie Stevens, coordinator of the referendum campaign, “Transportation hardships deny thousands of yellow bus riders equal access to education. We already have a set of proposals to address these problems within our School Bus Bill of Rights.”
PIST NYC is a citywide volunteer group who demand school bus routes that are safe, reliable and renewable for all students who need them. PIST NYC advises on specific route complaints while organizing for a School Bus Bill of Rights referendum.
With Us are a collective of MFA students at Brooklyn College advocating with PIST on this vital busing bill. Through video projection mapping, With Us will premiere work utilizing two cutting edge technology programs: MAX Cycling (an interactive media programming system) and MadMapper (gives maximum control over the projection span of the video). With projection streaming by The Illuminator Collective and content production support from MediaPlace.
Better busing means equity for NYC children and youth!