Their stories began similarly, “My child/children were on the bus for 45 minutes/an hour/ nearly two hours going to school/coming home.” And the ending was also nearly the same, “My child/children were upset, “I called the bus company, they didn’t respond in a satisfactory way/they were rude.”
Parents of children who attend yeshivas in the Five Towns, Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn made their complaints public at Monday’s Lawrence Board of Education meeting.
Held at the district’s Number Four School, it was ironic that the bus company they were complaining about – Independent Coach --- has its buses stationed two blocks away.
However, the parents were in no mood to seek out irony, they wanted to know what Lawrence officials were doing and what they will do to rectify the situation that is now going on its third week of what appears to be poor transportation management.
“More time on the bus is less time they have to learn,” said Miles Fisher, who was also angry that the bus company still hadn’t procured the special permit it needs to operate on the Cross Island Parkway, a route that would reduce the time his daughter and other children would be commuting to school.
Lawrence Superintendent Gary Schall said that as the complaints have come in he has been working on them. Schall, BOE Trustee Asher Mansdorf met with Independent Coach officials to iron out the problems. Schall said four drivers have been fired, 500 late student registrants were not added to the system and buses will be added to reduce the overcrowding.
The superintendent noted that the Lawrence district transports more than 7,500 total students to more than 75 schools using more than 450 different routes. “We have a responsibility to be sensitive to the taxpayers and also to fulfill our fiduciary obligations to all district residents,” said Schall, adding that the district is also seeking to improve communication with all the schools students attend to help reduce problems.
During the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot later this week, Schall said that Independent Coach drivers will be practicing their routes and he is working on eliminating the problems by Sept. 23, when yeshiva students return to school.