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November 20, 2008

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Sandy Alperstein

Thanks for bringing attention to an important but much overlooked issue!

Sandy

Daunna Minnich

Sputter! Sputter!

The transportation bureau manager claims the district has been trying to improve the way it communicates special needs transportation requirements. Golly gee, I wonder if the "poor communication" could be in any way due to the "fixed budget" that he cited?

How odd that it can take MONTHS to turn bus service ON, yet the district was able to turn service OFF almost overnight in response to one mom's complaint about a 4-hour busride each day.   How odd that the district was able to turn service ON lickety-split once Fox News came sniffing.  Poor communication? Nah. Sounds like excellent communication to me!

No bus service for hundreds of children must have led to thousands of phone calls to the transportation bureau, the school attendance offices, the special ed director, the superintendent, and the school board. The upper echelons must have known, or should have known.

If they knew, why did they shrug?  If they didn't know, well, why didn't they know? Either way, there's an accountability gap.  The easy thing to do would be to scapegoat the transportation manager, but this kind of problem begs for a long-lasting solution. What's really needed is a data-driven accountability reporting system with monthly scrutiny by the school board. If the school board doesn't care, no one else will either.

Unreasonable Teacher

I guess I never realized that something as simple as bus transportaion was such a problem. Thanks for the report.

Margo/Mom

I recall going around and around about this in my district. As the district was putting in place a hurry-up new IEP so that my son could transfer from a special needs school to a special needs classroom in a regular school--and do so at the semester change (not a good time of year, but it was the last year of elementary and they told me that unless he was in a regular elementary he could not go to a regular middle school) I insisted that they include some language about transportation--mostly to accommodate the travel to his specialized after-school care which had formerly been next door.

The included in the PLOP a statement that "mom says he needs tranportation." In his new school, I tried through the school to access transportation. After a time, they said, well they had TOLD transportation. When I contacted transportation they were certain that he didn't qualify, since he didn't have an orthopedic handicap. When I protested that it was in his IEP--they were quite certain it couldn't be. They hadn't seen his IEP, but if it had been in the IEP, someone would have told them. Special Ed said that it wasn't included in the services, just the comment about mom's beliefs. They wanted a doctor statement. I provided a statement from his counselor who explained his inability to traverse a mile on a daily basis through city traffic, drug dealers and prostitutes (of course this is where his school was located). They responded that he wasn't the right kind of doctor--it needed to be a medical doctor--and that their medical doctor had reviewed the case and found no evidence of a physical inability to walk the distance. When I got as far as the district's lawyer--who by then know my son by name--transportation contacted me with a bus stop about two blocks away from the school--still requiring that he walk through traffic, drug dealers and prostitutes. It all took about three months to work out.

Even in middle school--when we were beyond the legally required transportation mileage--it was difficult for transportation to understand that just because he looked older, they still could not allow him to decide to get off the bus someplace different. I lost him for several hours one night while he tried to walk home because he was trying to avoid a fight with another kid on the bus.

ANJ

I'm interested in your thoughts about Obama's pick for Secretary of Education. I hope you will post a commentary on this because you have a special qualification working in Ill. From what I have read, he has shown little interest in special needs education and has cut previous budgets for CPS. I don't know the full story and I'd like to learn a little about the "local" opinion. Thank you

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