Bus driver strike labors on
By Sarina Trangle
Patience waned for parents, as the school bus driver strike rolled into its second week.
Tao Moran, a Riverdalian whose 10-year-old son gets bused to the Hawthorne Country School in Westchester because city schools can’t meet his needs, said she initially sided with the 8,800 striking drivers and matrons. But her allegiance has begun to wear thin.
She said neither the union nor the city seems concerned about families who have to choose between escorting children with special needs to school and showing up to work. She said for the four days that the strike has been in progress, she has been spending two hours daily, driving her second grader to PS 24 and her child who is on the autism spectrum, to Hawthorne. The commute has prevented her from taking substitute-teaching assignments.
“We’re hearing this might go on for weeks. Why? Because, for most people, we’re hearing this is an inconvenience, but it isn’t anybody’s livelihood,” she said, adding that she felt “overlooked.”
Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union went on strike Jan. 16 because it said the city refused to honor drivers’ seniority while putting 1,100 bus routes up for bid.
According to DOE websites, more than 100 bus routes that serve schools in the Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Marble Hill and Van Cortlandt Village area were initially affected.
Kouli Nalpantidis, senior occupational therapist at the Multiple Intelligence School, PS/MS 37, said one student of five in wheelchairs showed up on Jan. 16. Special education classes were half empty a day later.
PS 360 in Kingsbridge Heights reported a few students absent, while PS 24 in Spuyten Duyvil said attendance dipped 5 percent from its average. Frank Patterson, principal of PS 7 in Kingsbridge, said the school has opened an hour early and stayed open an hour late to try to accommodate parents. He said attendance had dropped about 2 percent.
Keywordssarina trangle, bus strike, amalgamated transit union, ps 24, department of education, ps 7, ps 360, oliver koppell,