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Put EPP back into the bids now!

To The Editor:

If Bloomberg and company really care about busing our children properly in the short term and in the long term, they can legally place EPP back into the bids. In fact, the only reason EPP is not yet required in all school bus contracts is that they had Cuomo veto a bill that passed the State Assembly and Senate in 2011.

If the Mayor’s DOE has the will to bus disabled children properly, they will find the means. Consider all the families who rearrange their time and budget priorities to make sure our children’s needs are met.

The December letter to parents and guardians on DOE stationery stepped up the ‘spin’ about legalities and safety. Here is what PIST thinks: We have one outgoing mayor, who has other careers, saying that EPP cannot be in the bids. However, three mayoral candidates whose public credibility is at stake said on Dec. 23 that EPP can and should be put back into those bids. EPP is the prevailing way of doing business in grades K-12, and this method of seniority passed a major audit in 1995. The city could have easily beaten the case that they are citing as an excuse to deny job security to our experienced bus crews.

If the Mayor and DOE really want to prevent a temporary disruption of our children’s education, they would stop talking nonsense about Metrocards, and put EPP back into the bids NOW!

If they really care about safety, they would not open up the field of school transportation to Walmart-like subcontracting and downsizing. Flashback: September 2012—Long twisted bus routes for pre-K students were given to new companies that couldn’t handle the job. City Hall and Tweed still brag about the “competitive bidding” that led to this disaster. Flash forward: September 2015—According to new bid package there could be 40 children with and without disabilities bused together with no more than one attendant. Corporate thinkers may call that productivity, but families and educators call that CHAOS.

If City Hall and Tweed really respect parents, they would stop telling us that they know what’s best, and start seeking our input and questions on the way good busing is defined to both old and new companies. They would not be (a) testifying that bus conditions are fine and then walking out when it’s the parents’ turn to testify (10/10/2012); (b) telling parent leaders on the phone and in writing that there’s no place for us in a pre-Bid conference (1/2/2013).

Between the unions and the DOE, we can tell who has a common interest with parents and who is talking down to us. ATU 1181-1061 supports a School Bus Bill of Rights; in fact, their insights added to what PIST had already learned from NYC parents, disabled self-advocates, and school staff about what would make busing better and safer. The Mayor’s DOE is steadily chipping away at the transportation rights our children do have, by creating the circumstances for a much lower quality of service.

We remember Cathleen Black, who said that Special Education is expensive, and told parents who have complaints about busing to take a cab. What has Michael Bloomberg done lately to prove that his philosophy is any different from that?

Parents to Improve School Transportation pistnyc@gmail.com 347-504-3310 (se habla español)

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