I just got off the phone with a very nice gentleman at the office of the Public Advocate. I had emailed them last week regarding the difficulties we are having with Stella's school transportation.
It's so discouraging and complicated I haven't even mentioned most of it here. When we realized that she was the first picked up, last dropped off, of 10 students on her small bus, we submitted a letter from our pediatrician the first week of school to be included in her IEP (individualized education plan), stating that she should not be on the bus for more than an hour.
Despite all our efforts she is now riding the bus a total of 4-5 hours each day. She gets on at 6:30 in the morning (school starts at 8:20, and we don't know if the bus even gets here there on time) and doesn't get home until at least 5:30 p.m. (dismissal is 2:40).
Dozens of follow-up calls, and at least one formal complaint later, we find out today that there is a form the doctor needs to complete to submit to the powers that be.
Anyway, after explaining that his office was aware of a 5 billion dollar cut being absorbed by the special education system, with cutbacks being made regardless of the human cost, the nice gentleman asked if we would be willing to talk to the press about our situation. Um, yes, I said.
Bob has started a folder of paperwork and various records about our dealing with the bureaucracy and named it "Stella War Files." When the reporters call, I will hand the phone to Warrior Dad.
Let's hope this does some good for Stella and other students like her.
UPDATE: Bob just got off the phone with Channel 7 Education Reporter Art McFarland! He and his crew are going to meet Stella after school on Thursday, follow her bus home, and interview us. Sad but true: in our society, you have to get the media involved to really get something done!