Last month, we were heartened by an amazing turnout by parents to the City Council oversight hearing on school bus problems. One of the many reform measures being considered at that hearing is Intro. 1099, which was introduced at our office’s suggestion by Council Member Ben Kallos. Intro. 1099 would require the Office of Pupil Transportation to provide an app to parents and schools in order to track the location of school buses in real-time.
Since the hearing, there has been little public discussion of busing reforms. But that all changed this week when the NY Daily News published a horrifying account of a bus matron physically abusing a child who attends Manhattan Childrens Center ('A parent's worst nightmare' — video captures NYC school bus attendant throttling girl with disabilities). We hope that public attention on this horrible incident will shine a light on the dire need for better vetting, training, and monitoring of bus employees—particularly those who work with vulnerable children with disabilities.
But that wasn’t the end of this week’s bus-related news. Today, federal investigators raided OPT offices as part of an investigation of corruption in bus contracting (Feds open probe into city contracts awarded to NYC's private school bus companies: sources).
And today’s New York Times features a powerful op-ed penned by the Executive Director of Advocates for Children, which includes a specific call for the passage of Intro 1099. (Head on over to that link and add your voice in the comments section—we know City officials are reading those comments! )
It’s important that we don’t take our foot off the gas. These bills have not moved to a vote before the full Council yet because the Education Committee and City Hall are still hammering out the details—behind closed doors. If you haven’t written to your Council Member to demand the passage of Intro. 1099, and any of the other bills being considered by the Education Committee that you support, now is the time.