NY1 Exclusive: 4-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Fights For Bus To School
First, he had to fight a life-threatening illness. Now, a little boy is just fighting for a ride to school. It's been an uphill battle. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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Safwan Hassan has spent half his life in isolation, battling cancer since he was 2 years old. The now 4-year-old was in and out of the hospital, undergoing two bone marrow transfusions. He's never played with another child.
Now, thanks to an experimental medicine, he's well enough to go to pre-school. But his school bus never came.
"He's been surviving the last two years, so he's been in the remission part, right, and we want him to come to the school like regular children to get more help," his mother, Afroza, said.
Safwan should be getting bus service from the Department of Education, according to a legal document known as his Individualized Education Plan. The school and his mother have been trying for weeks to get him on the list but say nobody at the DOE has responded.
"I don't drive, so I have to take a taxi, a local taxi which is not actually healthy for him," Afroza said. "But still, I have to take it so I can bring my son, which is hard for us both ways. So this is really hard for us."
The taxi costs $14 each way. She says she can't afford to take it back and forth, so she sits and waits all day while her son is in school.
"It is like I'm just sitting here for no reason and everything is holding up at home," Afroza said. "So when I take him with me, I have to do everything within a short time. So it is, like, very pressure on me. It's very pressure."
Safwan's mother was already very concerned about his adjustment.
"I was very nervous," she said. "Still, I'm nervous every day. He's coming to school, I don't know what he's doing inside but I'm thinking he's going to be fine. He will learn because he doesn't talk. After the treatment, he lost talking, so he needs special care of that also."
A new computer system for pre-school busing requires the DOE to enter each child's name. The department told NY1 they first received Safwan's name on Thursday, the same day NY1 called. But NY1 has emails showing the school has been asking for service since at least August 20.
"I feel so neglected," Afroza said. "And especially my son, when I know that he is not like other children but he's supposed to get it and he's not getting it. It feels like we're neglected."
NY1 is now told that Safwan is now entered into the system. But NY1 is also told it will likely take at least a week for his bus to come.