Families, Unions, Elected Officials, and Advocates March for a “School Bus Bill of Rights”

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Marchers on the Brooklyn Bridge demanding better service, funding, and conditions for school transportation, especially for kids with disabilities. Photo: Kim Ives/Haïti Liberté

On Sat. Mar. 19, dozens rallied in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza Park before marching over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Department of Education (DOE), to highlight the need for systemic reform in student transportation. The crowd of 60 or so included families, groups of paraprofessionals and teachers, several delegates from the largest NYC school bus union, environmentalists, and other advocates.

“We’re here because we want the young people to know that people care if, when, and how they get to school,” said Sara Catalinotto, founder of Parents to Improve School Transportation (PIST NYC). “The rules about busing are not made by the people who have to live with it. The School Bus Bill of Rights campaign seeks to give power to Disability leaders, parent/caregiver leaders, worker leaders and school leaders over decisions about student transportation.”

“It’s when everybody comes together, and puts their needs, thoughts, skills, and experiences on the table, that we can come up with a School Bus Bill of Rights that reflects what our needs are – and make the improvements,” said State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “We need this to be a part of every budget conversation, every education, environmental, and transportation conversation.”

“We need this to be a part of every budget conversation”

Also speaking at the rally were Advocate for Disabilities Christopher D. Greif, Amalgamated Transit Union local 1181-1061 Recording Secretary Tomas Fret, Bronx mom Monica Roman, Kathy Park Price, Transportation Alternatives activist and former Panel for Educational Policy member, and Justin Wood, Policy Director for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, part of the Electrify NY Coalition, Deputy Public Advocate for Education and Opportunity, Milagros Cancel, president Timon Family Services, Amy Tsai, Community Council for District 75, Charles Jenkins, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, New York Chapter,

“These issues have been here long before the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Kennedy on behalf of NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, whose office has been collecting school bus complaints. “They look like staffing shortages; doubled up routes; crowding; lack of PPE for the workers; and students having longer rides than ever before.”

Also supporting and participating in the action were 350 NYC, the Coalition to Finally End Mayoral Control, Haiti Liberté newspaper, Struggle/La Lucha newspaper, Bronx Autism Family Support, Lower East Side Community Partnership Project, and longtime Citywide Council on Special Education member Ellen McHugh.

For more information, contact PIST NYC at pistnyc@gmail.com.

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