For Michelle Hudson and her daughter-in-law, everyday has been a challenge to figure out who can pick up her grandson from school.
Elijah is in Pre-K at Florence Campbell Elementary School with Clear Creek Independent School District. He’s deaf and has cerebral palsy. Hudson says Elijah has not had a bus route since school started on August 19th, and he doesn’t appear to be the only one.
“Why is it just limited to the special needs children? They are the only ones that do not have a bus,” Hudson wondered.
She adds her daughter-in-law called the superintendent’s office and gone in-person multiple times.
“No one has returned any phone calls until Wednesday,” Hudson mentioned.
Even then, shesays, the school official wasn’t helpful.
“They told her they have no answers for her that they still don’t know what the solution is,” she added.
It’s the same response her family got three days after school began in an email from the superintendent.
“They said they don’t know whether it was computer error or human error, but to us it doesn’t matter,” she stated.
FOX 26 saw the email dated August 22nd. It explained that the busing problem initially impacted 285 students total. As of August 22nd, it read, 95 we’re still affected. It went on to say that those students were ones whose bus route changed from the previous school year because of campus changes. Elaina Polsen, the district’s spokesperson, says she believes now it’s about 20 students, and this busing crisis in almost over.
“We are remorseful and regretful that this has even occurred to any of our special education families,” Polsen told FOX 26.
She says the issue stemmed from a communication error between the two software programs; one, to track the needs of special education students, and, the other, for the transportation system. She says the staff did not know about the problem until a week before school began. She adds they’re also short 20 bus drivers and looking to hire.
“We’re apologetic that they’re not getting the level of service that they except and certainly that their children deserve,” Polsen added.
She says the reason why only special education students were impacted is because of those bus routes require more detailed information.
“We’re taking every individual student who has a special transportation need and having to identify the bus with [the] equipment on it, the buses that can make a route efficiently and timely,” Polsen said.
Louis Geigerman, a disability advocate who founded National ARD/IEP Advocates, says this is a violation of the special education students rights.
“Special education is about service not a place. So, if they can’t get from their home to school to access those services that’s violating their rights,” he told FOX 26.
He also believes the district should have tried harder to find a temporary solution such as bringing in a third party to transport students in the meantime. He says sign the district is not making them a priority.
“Are they have problems getting the football players to the football games? Probably not," Geigerman added rhetorically.
Polsen says the busing issues should all be resolved by Monday. She adds the district is already talking about implementing a new program to prevent this from happening the next school year.
She says anyone if still has problems to contact her at 281-284-0020.