NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It looks like the city’s Department of Education is going to miss the bus on a crucial deadline.
A new law CBS2 first told you about in January requires the city to install GPS devices on every school bus. But we’re less than a month away from the first day of school and parents say they’re still in the dark about bus safety, Lisa Rozner reported on Monday.
Workers are prepping P.S. 77 on Third Avenue for the first day of school, but what isn’t getting an upgrade are the city’s school buses.
Back in January, legislation was passed that mandated the city equip its nearly 10,000 buses with GPS tracking for the 2019-20 school year, so parents can monitor their children’s whereabouts.
“I just can’t see another school year go by where parents don’t know where their kids are,” City Councilman Ben Kallos said.
Kallos first introduced the law back in 2014. It finally advanced this year after the freak November snowstorm that paralyzed city streets and had children sitting on school buses without food, water or a bathroom for hours on end.
Back then, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “I never want to see public school parents have to go through what they went through last night.”
So this spring, nine different vendors submitted proposals to the city to develop a bus tracking app for parents. In May, Kallos asked Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza if the city would meet this year’s deadline.
He said, “We’re not going to be late with our homework. We’re going to get it right.”
The DOE declined to speak with CBS2 on camera, but by email said its a priority to install the best system on the buses, and that it is finalizing a contract. It said it will have a clear timeline soon, but a spokesperson could not confirm whether “soon” means on or before Sept. 5, when school starts.
“It’s outrageous. As a parent of a child who has trouble speaking, it’s heartbreaking to put her on the bus and not know exactly where she is,” said autism advocate Theresa Lyons.
“They expect that all the rest of the citizens of New York have to follow the local laws of New York City, but somehow the Department of Education didn’t bother to follow the law,” parent Eliyanna Kaiser added.
As part of the legislation, Kallos said parents were supposed to learn their children’s bus routes in two weeks. So if they don’t get those then the city will have officially missed the deadline.
Kallos said the DOE asked to meet with him and parents to discuss the GPS tracking. While time is running out, he said he’s hopeful the city can still implement software, even of the most basic format, for the school year.