Fighting rare disease, Merrick mom wants change in state busing law

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She has garnered letters of support fromNew York State United Teachers, the Center for Disability Rights, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the Long Island Center for Independent Living, and U.S. Rep. Peter King and Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg. She has also gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions to change the law and lobbied the offices of every member of the state Senate and Assembly.

Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., a Republican from Merrick, has sponsored a bill in the Senate that states, “Transportation may be offered on an equitable basis to children who have a parent/legal guardian with a physically limiting impairment which prohibits the parent/legal guardian from accompanying their child to or from school as certified by their physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.” The bill is now before the Senate’s Finance Committee after having cleared the Education Committee.

Fuschillo sponsored similar bills in 2008, 2009 and 2011. The Senate passed them in 2008, 2010 and 2012, respectively. In 2008, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a Democrat from Long Beach, sponsored a bill that the Assembly also passed. But then-Gov. David Paterson vetoed the legislation in September 2008, citing potential busing costs, a lack of standards for when and how school boards should grant busing-limit exceptions, and a concern that “non-ambulatory” parents and their children would receive a benefit not available to other families who live too close to a school to qualify for busing.

The Assembly passed a bill last year, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed it in August, stating that he “oppose[d] taking away the power of district residents to determine what transportation, at additional cost, would be appropriate in their communities.”

Notrica is planning a presentation about her advocacy efforts at the next meeting of the South Merrick Community Civic Association, which is set for March 19, at 7 p.m., at the Merrick Road Park golf course clubhouse, at 2550 Clubhouse Road in Merrick.

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