Family demands schools hire more bus drivers after student in wheelchair is nearly stranded

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    BOSTON, Massachusetts (WBZ) — A Roslindale family with a special needs child is demanding Boston Public Schools hire more bus drivers after their daughter was nearly stranded at dismissal.

“The anxiety of not knowing how you’re going to get your child home,” said Jessie Elliott.

That’s what happened to three-year-old JoJo Elliott, a special needs student, on her first day of school at Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston.

Her parents received a text message notifying them there isn’t a bus driver to take JoJo from Chinatown to her home in Roslindale – roughly a 35-minute car ride.

It’s become a weekly problem. It’s extra nerve-wracking, the Elliotts say, because JoJo relies on a wheelchair and needs medical attention every three hours.

“The last-minute notification on a service that we were guaranteed in a legal contract that we would have public transportation,” said JoJo’s father, Jim Elliott.

The family said Boston Public Schools recommended JoJo attend Josiah Quincy Elementary, even though it’s more than a half hour from her home, because she needs extra attention.

BPS admits they’re dealing with a district-wide bus driver shortage, writing in a statement:

“We’re taking an active approach to ensure our students get to and from school safely and we are constantly working to streamline our operations and identify any issues that need to be addressed. We know delayed buses continue to be challenging for our students and families, and are working around the clock to improve our daily bus performance. While we are not yet where we want and need to be, we will continue to work hard in service to our students and their future success. We recently hired the necessary number of drivers to cover all routes. Due to some ongoing issues related to attendance, we have had periodic uncovered buses, but there is now a driver for every bus. We do anticipate continuing to see improvement in on-time performance over the coming weeks and months ahead.”

Jessie Elliott told WBZ-TV it’s a little too late for some families who were left stranded.

“There are parents who have lost their jobs because they’re trying to get their children to and from the education that they’re supposed to have,” she said.

They’re lucky they have a wheelchair-accessible car, they say other families are forced to order Ubers or Lyfts just to bring their child home.

Jim and Jessie Elliott have this message for Boston’s superintendent and the mayor: “Doesn’t matter how hard you’re working. Do a better job. You’re doing the kids a disservice. You’re doing the parents s a disservice,” said Jim Elliot.

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