NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After decades of delay, the city council is poised to pass legislation that will mandate GPS tracking on all school buses, so parents can see exactly where their kids are.
This comes after November’s six-inch snowstorm that left kids stuck in transit for hours on end, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner first reported Tuesday.
“It’s a horrible experience not to know where your child is at,” parent Jennifer Reynoso said.
Reynoso’s 3-year-old disabled son, Ethan, was stuck on a school bus from 2 p.m. until well past midnight on Nov. 15. While six inches of snow paralyzed the city, she and thousands of other parents couldn’t track down their own kids.
Ethan had no food, no bathroom, and, worst of all, no communication.
“I kept calling everywhere and nobody would give me a straight answer,” Reynoso said.
Theresa Lyons, whose daughter has autism, said she knows the feeling.
“As a parent, you start to wonder is my daughter OK? Was there an accident?” Lyons said.
Councilman Ben Kallos introduced legislation back in 2014 to get GPS tracking installed on every school bus, so parents can monitor when the bus is coming, or see why it’s late. Councilman Chaim Deutsch and Councilman Mark Treyger, who chairs the Education Committee, confirmed that the bill will advance out of the committee on Wednesday. Council Speaker Corey Johnson is expected to bring it up for a full vote in the afternoon.
“I’m confident we will pass this with a veto-proof majority tomorrow,” Kallos said.
The Department of Education will be required to implement it by September for the 2019-20 school year. The effort dates back almost 20 years, when former Councilman Michael Nelson introduced a bill to require two-way radio communication. Since then, GPS tracking has been been successfully implemented in major school districts like Denver, Boston and Houston, the district where Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza last worked.
“Why the DOE is coming kicking and screaming into the third decade of the 21st century to require this in all buses is a question that the DOE needs to answer,” CUNY Graduate Center’s Dr. David Bloomfield said.
CBS2 wanted to speak with the schools chancellor, but the DOE would not make him available.
A spokesperson confirmed the department is on board.
“If there’s an app and you see live what’s going on, then there’s no second guessing,” Reynoso said.
In a city that strives to be the next big tech hub, it is ready to use data to keep its own parents up to speed.
CBS2 reached out to Local 1181 ATU, the bus drivers’ union, for comment, but it did not get back to us.
The legislation also requires school bus drivers to do practice runs of their routes in August, so they can work with parents to make any modifications necessary before school starts.