Friday, January 22, 2010

The Bus Saga....

When I first joined the Wednesday parent group with Infants and Toddlers, the parent educator (who leads the group) talked about how a reservation a lot of parents have when the children leave their program is "The Bus". I always assumed that it's hard for parents to put a just-turned-3-year-old child on the bus to take them to and from school. That wasn't going to bother me (at least not enough to not want to do it). But now I'm thinking that it's the added layer of bureaucracy.

Let's start by saying that Simon's transportation is just fine. His school starts at 9 and the bus picks him up just shy of 8:30. He gets on happily, gets to school just fine and on time, and comes home happy as can be somewhere around 2:20 (school lets out at 2). It's reasonable and he's happy with the whole arrangement. But things can never be that simple when you have twins.

Rachel's bus arrives at 7:40. Her school doesn't begin until 8:50. Yes, that's 70 minutes (scheduled) on the bus. She just turned 3!!!!! This is totally unreasonable. I decided to wait and see how things were going before making a stink about it. But had been over a week and the time had come.

I contacted the school's autism office a couple of days ago to ask what would be the best way to proceed (ideally looking for a name within the transportation office so I wasn't being shuffled from one desk to another). They told me they would look into it. And what they learned (and passed onto me) was that there was only 1 other child on the bus (picked up after Rachel) and the reason it took so long was "traffic".

My response to the autism office after reading this that was, let's just say, a bit irate, claiming that if it only took 30 minutes to get Simon to school (and his school is only a mile away from her school in that same direction) with 2 stops following his own pick-up, they should be able to get Rachel to school within 40 minutes.

Now, I'll admit -- traffic in Montgomery County is a problem, especially during morning or evening rush hours (which is why Kevin goes to work so early in the morning). But the school is only 20 minutes away (typically) and expected traffic can be accounted for, so why is it taking so long to get a 3-year-old to school? Time to call the transportation office myself.

Well, this morning I did just that. What they told me didn't match AT ALL what the autism office had passed on to me (I am assuming that the transportation groups made a change after the conversations with the autism office). She is now the 2nd of 6 children picked up by this bus and is NOT to be picked up prior to 7:57 (which is when I was initially told that she would be picked up for school). If the bus arrived earlier than that, I wouldn't have to put her on the bus until that time. Then the bus makes its remaining stops and is scheduled to arrive at her school at 8:40. Approximately a 40 minute bus ride is (relatively) acceptable (double driving time was my expected rule). After getting off the phone, I sent an email to the autism office telling them what I had learned.

About an hour after sending my email following my call to the transportation office, the autism office sent one back to me telling me that she would talk to the transportation office about having Rachel ride on the bus with Simon and then the bus would drop her off before heading to MPAC (or maybe after). Now, on many fronts, this would be IDEAL!!!! But I know that this isn't going to work. And right now we have a feasible solution. Why didn't she read the rest of her emails in the thread before sending that? GGGGRRRRRRR........

Rachel doesn't have school on Monday or Tuesday due to in-service days, so it'll be Wednesday before we know what's actually happening. But I hope that we have a good solution here and that I don't have to resort to driving her to school (when I have to wait for Simon's bus and drive Daniel to preschool, not to mention the fact that she LIKES going on the bus) or ask about the possibility of changing her placement (when she's doing so well in her new classroom [this was a less-preferable suggestion from someone I know and trust]).

If this is solved, the "transition" should be over and we can get on with our lives.....

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