Peekskill students left in transportation limbo by a paperwork problem will be bused to and from John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers while the matter is straightened out, the Peekskill Board of Education assured parents Tuesday night.
The students are expected to be transported as planned beginning Sept. 27 after some were forced to turn to parents or hastily arranged car pools.
The board and district officials met informally with two dozen parents who turned out for the board’s scheduled business meeting after the formal session was adjourned early out of respect for the start of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
The problem apparently stemmed from busing applications that were submitted on time but not processed properly by substitute clerical staff.
“We know we sent in the paperwork but it vanished,” said one mother who, like other parents, was notified in a letter dated Sept. 21 that bus transportation for her child was denied.
“It is clear to all that something went awry here. … This should not have happened. We apologize,” board President Joseph Urbanowicz said. “We will continue to provide transportation. We will get this straightened out.”
Drivers will be notified to allow affected children onto the buses, Superintendent of Schools James Willis said.
The Kennedy situation, like a related issue involving Assumption School in Peekskill, is rooted in a decision by the school district to enforce a state deadline for submission of requests for busing to parochial and private schools. By law, such requests are due each April 1 for the upcoming school year.
Information about the deadline was sent to Assumption but for some reason was not relayed to the parents, district officials said in August. When informed of the situation, the board granted a one-time extension for parents to submit requests. Parents who did not meet the new deadline were told in September that they must wait a few weeks until bus ridership stabilizes; if seats are not available, the parents are responsible for getting the children to school.
The Kennedy parents did file their requests in time, but the paperwork apparently went astray.
Willis and Urbanowicz explained that the April 1 deadline had not been enforced for a time, although it should have been. It was established to enable school districts to determine transportation needs and costs as they prepared their budgets, which are adopted in April and submitted to district voters in May.
In other transportation matters:
- A Kennedy parent suggested that the district, in addition to notifying the schools, as a courtesy each year send letters to parents of students currently bused to parochial and private schools, reminding them to submit requests for the upcoming year by April 1.
- A Woodside Elementary School parent complained that buses were running late. The board will investigate.
The board encouraged anyone with a transportation concern to contact Gregory Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business and administrative services, whose responsibilities include the Transportation Office: firstname.lastname@example.org