BOSTON, MA (CBS) — A Roslindale family with a child with special needs is asking Boston Public Schools to hire more bus drivers after their daughter was nearly locked out of layoff.
“The anxiety of not knowing how you’re going to get your child home,” Jessie Elliott said.
That’s what happened to three-year-old JoJo Elliott, a student with special needs, on her first day of school at Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston.
Her parents received a text telling them there was no bus driver to take JoJo from Chinatown to her home in Roslindale – about a 35-minute drive away.
It has become a weekly problem. It’s very nerve-wracking, the Elliotts say, because JoJo is wheelchair dependent and needs medical attention every three hours.
“Last minute notification on a service that guaranteed us in a legal contract that we would have public transportation,” said JoJo’s father, Jim Elliott.
The family said Boston Public Schools recommended that JoJo attend Josiah Quincy Elementary School, even though it was more than half an hour from her home, because she needed special attention.
BPS admits they face a district-wide shortage of bus drivers, writing in a statement:
“We take an active approach to ensuring our students get to school safely and we are constantly working to streamline our operations and identify issues that need to be addressed. We know that delayed buses continue to be difficult for our students and their families. , and work around the clock to improve the daily performance of our buses. Although we are not yet where we want and need to be, we will continue to work hard in the service of our students and their future success. We have recently hired the necessary number of drivers to cover all routes. Due to some ongoing attendance issues, we have had buses not covered periodically, but there is now a driver for each bus. We expect to continue to see improved on-time performance in the weeks and months ahead.”
Jessie Elliott told WBZ-TV it’s a little too late for some families who have found themselves stranded.
“There are parents who have lost their jobs because they are trying to get their children the education they are supposed to have,” she said.
They’re lucky to have a wheelchair-accessible car, they say, other families are forced to order Ubers or Lyfts just to get their child home.
Jim and Jessie Elliott have this message for Boston’s superintendent and mayor: “It doesn’t matter how hard you work. Do a better job. You’re doing the kids a disservice. You’re doing the parents a disservice.” says Jim Elliot.