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Cold, School Bus Troubles Lead to Drop in School Attendance Rates

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TWC News: Cold, School Bus Troubles Lead to Drop in School Attendance Rates
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It hasn't been easy to get students to school so far this year, as between Mother Nature and problems with school buses, attendance rates have dropped along with the temperature. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

When city schools reopened from winter vacation last Thursday, the focus was on the change at the top, but for 40,000 students, something much closer to home also changed: their school bus.

"Our bus driver's company got bankrupt," said student Darius Mason.

It wasn't just any company. It was Atlantic Express, the largest school bus company in the city. They stopped operating on the last day of 2013.

The DOE scrambled to get all 1,600 routes covered by other companies, but many students still had a rough start to the new year.

Gary Moskowitz's daughter has a severe disability and is unable to walk or talk. The All American bus company picked up her route, but Tuesday, the bus broke down.

"It took about three hours later to get the other bus," Moskowitz said.

It was 4 degrees by the time a replacement arrived, but, according to Moskowitz, "When I went on the bus, I was like 'Oh my God, there's no heat on the bus.'"

In fact, the DOE said that a bus in Manhattan also had no heat, but promised that both would be fixed by Wednesday.

Then, there's 7-year-old Darius. He hasn't gotten back on a bus since Thursday, when he had a new driver from Allied Transit Corp.

"He didn't know the way to get to our school," Darius said. "We kept telling him the number, the way to go, all of that."

He says the driver unloaded the kids back where they'd been picked up, even though all the parents had left.

"This is outrageous, 'cause he just left us on the street, and I don't know why he would do that 'cause we are just little kids," Darius said. "Kindergarten to first grade to second grade, and he left us on the street. But you can't do that to little kids."

The company suspended the driver while the DOE investigates.

On Thursday, the DOE transportation office fielded nearly 4,200 calls, and on Monday, they fielded another 4,000.

The weather has also made school attendance difficult so far in 2014. On Friday, schools closed for snow, and on Tuesday, with record-low temperatures, attendance was just 72.6 percent. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP