A Queens special education student has been forced to spend four hours a day on a bus just to get to school, which is not sitting well with the child's mother. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filled the following report.
Five-year-old Fernando Hernandez of Maspeth, Queens tells NY1 that he likes his teachers. Yet his family can't tolerate his commute to those teachers.
Since school began last week, Krystina Hernandez, Fernando's mother, says it's taken his school bus more than two hours to P.S. 199 in Long Island City, even though the school is located 10 minutes away from their home.
Krystina Hernandez says it's even more trying for her son, who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
"He's handicapped, he's ADHD. He should not be strapped down on a bus for two hours, missing breakfast and being an hour-and-a-half late. I consider that child abuse," says Krystina Hernandez. "I am trusting the Board of [Education] with the safety of my son and he has to go through this."
Hernandez and school officials have called the Department of Education and the bus company repeatedly to file complaints.
The school administrator says last year they had been given three buses for their special education students, but this year they were only given one. With such a full route, the bus arrives well after the start of class.
Krystina Hernandez says her son has missed breakfast at school every morning he's taken the bus. Finally this week, Fernando Hernandez was assigned to a different bus, but his mother discovered that it was full of junior high school students with special needs, and that her son would be one of the first pick-ups at 6:45 a.m., two hours before school starts.
"Now he does not want to go to school on the bus anymore. He loves school, the school's a good school. I think it's basically scarred him," says Krystina Hernandez. "All these kids have to suffer. It's not just him."
Every year, there are complaints about the buses that transport special education students across the city, and special education advocates say that they are hearing the same horror stories this year.
A DOE spokesperson said on Friday that Fernando Hernandez has been given a new, more appropriate bussing assignment that will go into effect Monday. For the Queens boy who loves kindergarten so far, the new bus can't come fast enough.