Queens Student Unable To Get To School In Bus Strike To Get Alternate Transportation
The school bus drivers' strike has been especially hard on about 50,000 students with special needs, as well as their parents, who have had to search for other ways to get their children to school. Queens reporter Ruschell Boone has been following the story of one mom caught up in that difficult situation, and now, there's finally good news.
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Michael Garay, 14, has been home since the school bus workers went on strike more than a week ago because none of the city's contingency plans worked for Garay's mother, Linda. But now, she says the city is offering alternate transportation.
"I was ecstatic because now he can go back to school, and he doesn't have to mope around and, every day, asking 'Mommy, got to go to school,' like he always does," Linda Garay said.
Michael is autistic with behavioral problems. What made things more difficult for Linda was the fact that Michael goes to school in Westchester. The city doesn't offer the program he needs, and they live in Ozone Park.
"Going on the train would take me about, as I heard, three hours," Linda Garay said.
NY1 first told you about Linda Garay's plight last week as she worked desperately to find a way to get her son to school. She tried to arrange for a car service after hearing that the city was reimbursing parents of children with a disability, but it was too expensive, so Garay reached out to NY1 for help.
NY1 told her about a program announced earlier this week that allows parents of students with disabilities to take a car service if they have no other option, with the bill going to the Department of Education. But Garay was having trouble connecting.
"I was frustrated," she said. "I was at the point that I just started crying because I didn't know what else to do."
She was finally able to apply for the program on Thursday, but on Friday, the city said it had a better idea: Michael will be getting a specialized bus to take him to school next week.
"Because of you, it made a difference and things went forward," Linda Garay said. "I was going out of my mind."
The DOE said it's working hard to make sure every child can go to school. Michael is expected to be back by Wednesday.