Brooklyn parents blast conditions for special needs children aboard school buses

The parents of special needs children in Brooklyn claim that city school buses are ill-equipped to care for their kids.
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Brooklyn parents are furious over the deteriorating situation on city school buses — which routinely experience chronic delays and an inability to care for children with special needs.

The situation has become so fraught that one autistic six-year-old routinely soils herself after spending upwards of two hours on the bus with staffers that fail to cater to her disabilities, according to the girl’s mother.

“I had to let her know that it isn’t my daughter’s fault…that she isn’t making it home in time to use the bathroom,” said Crown Heights resident Elizabeth Elias.

Making matters worse, the Department of Education has failed to equip buses with legally-mandated navigation systems — leaving some parents in the dark about their children’s whereabouts as drivers complete bus routes late or skip stops altogether.

One parent, who shuttles her special needs son on a yellow-bus to PS 236 from their Mill Basin home, fought to retain a trained paraprofessional aboard her son’s bus to deal with the increasingly fraught situation caused by the delays and the untrained staff members.

“Leaving him at their mercy is not an option for me,” said Margarycel Nuñez.

Nuñez’s diabetic and autisitc son once darted off the bus at the wrong stop, only to be stopped by the properly trained paraprofessional — but she shudders to think about what might happen in other situations.

“If my para[professional] wouldn’t be there, I don’t know what would have happened because the driver and matron were like a deer in the headlights.”

Nuñez — who has a masters degree in special education — urged city educational honchos to properly train all city school bus drivers and matrons to have a basic understanding of caring for special needs children.

“If the driver and matron of the buses were trained in disabilities, I would get a huge weight off my chest,” she said.

A Department of Education spokesperson hit back, claiming that they conduct yearly training of all its bus-driving employees, and provides added resources to children with disabilities.

“Bus drivers and attendants have both pre-employment and annual training specific to transporting students with disabilities,” said a department spokesperson. “All buses that transport students with disabilities have an attendant on board for their safety, and many students also have a paraprofessional on their bus.”

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