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NYC’s schools bureaucracy creates horror for parents and kids

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While Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza spends much of his time railing about “bias,” the dysfunctional system he oversees is leaving medically needy special-ed kids twisting in the wind — and it’s just that kind of dysfunction that hurts poor minorities the most.

As The Post reported, federal Judge William Pauley III last week let a lawsuit against the Department of Education proceed, ripping the DOE as a “cumbersome and counter-intuitive bureaucracy” whose failure to coordinate nursing and transportation services for four disabled kids forced them to miss class for much of the school year.
That put it mildly. Letting kids go without school for so long is beyond outrageous. And while the lawsuit names only four children, Advocates for Children lawyers say “the entire system is broken.” No doubt.

The problem in a nutshell: The DOE is so complex and disjointed that parents are often stuck with big problems that are near-impossible to navigate.

In the case of the special-ed kids, the process of approving and coordinating services is split among three offices (for special-ed, health and transportation) and the schools themselves. Yet there’s no mechanism for the offices and schools to work together to ensure all i’s get dotted and t’s crossed.

All the DOE had to do to get these kids what they needed was 1) approve applications, 2) arrange for bus service and 3) contract for nurses to accompany the kids to and from school. Yet it fumbled that.

One parent told The Post that her 8-year-old son, who suffers from severe seizures, missed kindergarten for two years because he never got the “bus nurse” the DOE arranged for him.

Such problems aren’t limited to special-ed kids. The DOE bureaucracy, shielded by its very complexity, stymies parents on a host of fronts. And kids of poor parents — who lack the time, money or know-how to overcome those hurdles — suffer most.

Instead of railing about the supposed implicit-bias of white parents, maybe Carranza should focus on cutting red tape, easing the burden on parents and getting schools to function properly.

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/09/03/nycs-schools-bureaucracy-creates-horror-for-parents-and-kids/

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Teacher charged after killing pedestrian while driving drunk

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A city public school teacher is charged after police say she killed a pedestrian while driving drunk in the Bronx.

Police say 33-year-old Shakira Price was driving on Pelham Parkway South near Eastchester Road yesterday morning when she collided with another car, traveling in the same direction.

She then kept driving and hit 57-year-old Raymond Bolan, who was crossing the street.

The incident occurred around 10 a.m. on Friday morning.

Price faces multiple charges, including vehicular manslaughter and DWI.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education called the allegations “appalling and disgraceful,” adding, “Ms. Price has already been reassigned away from the classroom and we are pursuing her removal from payroll as soon as legally possible.”

Source: http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2018/09/15/teacher-charged-after-killing-pedestrian-while-driving-drunk#

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I-Team: Only a Few School Districts in New York Require Kids to Wear Seat Belts on Buses

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Before the school year begins in Yonkers Public Schools, the youngest students board a school bus for life-saving lessons: they learn to board the bus, exit the bus in an emergency and they learn to buckle up.

“If they are required to wear a seatbelt in the car with their parents, they should be required to wear a seatbelt on the bus as well,” said parent Genell Lloyd.

Sounds logical, but not the law, as the I-Team has learned. In New York State, school buses are required to have lap belts but it is up to each district if kids must wear them.

In Yonkers, pre-K, kindergarteners, and first grade students must wear seat belts, but after that, kids are on their own. Out of 733 school districts in the state, only about twenty of them require students wear seat belts, according to the New York Association for Pupil Transportation.
“There are operational questions of who is going to make sure the kids are buckled in,” said Peter Mannella, who serves as executive director. “Who is liable if the kids aren’t buckled in?”

That’s one reason the association is opposed to a bill in Albany that would make seat-belt use mandatory. But more importantly, it cites federal research that the size and design of large buses, not belts, best protect kids in a crash.

“It’s the safest way to get kids to school,” said Mannella
In May, just after a deadly school bus crash in New Jersey, in which all the students were wearing lap belts, the NTSB called for all new buses to have 3-point shoulder belts. Videos from seat belt manufacturers shows the life-saving difference in a rollover crash.

While New Jersey quickly moved to make shoulder belts the law, there has been no rush in Albany.

“The current state of affairs is very lax,” according to state Sen. David Carlucci (D-38th Senate District)
Carlucci has drafted a bill to mandate three point shoulder belts on buses and make it a law that all students wear it. But already there has been pushback.

“It might be safer for kids, but we still have to argue through the logistics,” said Mannella of the NY State Association for Pupil Transportation. “It’s not the industry saying we don’t like seatbelts. Give us a chance to figure this out and the cost of them. It could be 10-12 thousand dollars more on a 120 thousand dollar bus already.”

Parents in New York can call your school to ask about the seat belt requirements and talk to your kids about buckling up. Connecticut is one of the many states that does not yet require seat belts on buses.

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/I-Team-New-York-Seat-Belt-Laws-NY-Albany-School-Year-492421101.html

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School bus drivers to receive random drug testing in New York

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill aiming to crack down on impaired school bus operators from getting behind the wheel by requiring all bus drivers to submit to random drug testing.

The new law, which will take effect in 120 days, requires all bus drivers throughout the state to be eligible for random drug and alcohol screenings.

It also increases prohibits school bus drivers from drinking alcohol eight hours prior to their shift, an increase from the previous rule of six hours.

Under previous law and federal rules, drivers operating mini-buses carrying fewer than 16 passengers were not required to submit to drug and alcohol testing, according to a sponsors’ memo attached to the bill.

Only 10 percent of a motor carrier’s drivers, meanwhile, were subject to random drug screenings, though many individual school districts had tougher requirements, according to the memo.It also ensures that school districts’ cost of drug testing is eligible for reimbursement from the state.
There have been at least four incidents in which a school bus operator has been arrested for operating a school bus while intoxicated since 2012, according to the bill.

Under the new law, all school bus drivers will be placed in the pool for random drug screenings, including those driving small vehicles.

The bill cleared both chambers of the legislature this past session and was signed into law on Friday.

It was sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, and Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Nassau County.Lupardo, the senior upstate member of the Assembly’s transportation committee, said in a interview Monday that it took four years to get the bill to pass, even after approval from the state Senate.

“It’s not an easy committee to get legislation through, especially when it in some way increases penalties,” she said. “My Assembly colleagues who oversee the transportation committee are very, very cautious when anything is expanded, whether it’s red-light cameras or stop-arm cameras.”

She became a strong advocate of the new requirements for bus drivers when she was contacted by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation.

“They were frustrated about their inability to get movement on this bill,” she said. “Sometimes when it’s something that seems so obvious, I take it on as a challenge. I’ve approached a number of bills that way — in my office, we call it ‘dog with bone.’”

“When a child leaves home and gets on the school bus, no parent should have to worry if their child is safe,” Marcellino said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to do everything that we can to put their well-being first. This bill will do just that.”

The new law drew praise from the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, which represents the school bus industry.

Peter Mannella, the association’s executive director, said the new law will help “assure parents that their children are in safe hands at all times.”

The association had pushed for the bill’s passage since it was first introduced in 2014.

“We never want to explain to parents or to the public why a compromised bus driver had been given the keys to drive a school bus,” Mannella said in a statement. “That should never happen. We just helped ensure that it never does.”

Lupardo is happy that the new testing rules finally have become law.

“When you pass a bill like this, it’s a relief on a lot of levels — but it’s a relief to know that children will be safer on their way to school and the driving public will be safer,” she said. “It’s about the kids, but also about the other people on the road.”

Source: https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/new-york/2018/08/27/school-bus-drivers-receive-random-drug-testing-new-york/1111057002/

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