Tag Archives: school bus strike

Parents relieved school buses are up and running again


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

The wheels on the bus will finally be going round and round again.

School bus drivers and matrons returned to their posts on Wednesday, February 19, after the month-long stalemate that left more than 150,000 students stranded.

“I am very pleased and happy that the strike is over,” said Far Rockaway resident Crystal Blount, whose disabled son Nehemiah needed to be driven over an hour to his school on Long Island every day. “It was causing major stress. I had to take too many days off from work and lost a lot of time at work that I would normally use for emergencies.”

A major push to end the strike came when the five Democratic mayoral hopefuls signed a joint letter, urging the city and the union to come to an agreement.

According to bus driver Maria Gentile, the decision to end the strike had nothing to do with negotiations with Bloomberg, contrary to statements made by the mayor. Instead, it was the five candidate’s support and promise that the Employee Protection Provision (EPP) would be revisited upon the appointment of Bloomberg’s successor.

“They asked if we would return to work in exchange for the upcoming mayor to be willing to work with them,” said Gentile. “We’re in a really good place. We’re in a positive place. We’re going to keep moving forward and fighting for what we want.”

Local 1181 president Michael Cordiello said that while the strike has been suspended, the issues surrounding the strike remain pressing and a responsibility of the city. Cordiello criticized the Bloomberg administration for its tactics during the strike, including the mayor’s refusal to meet with Local 1181 officials to end the strike.

“In January when Mayor Bloomberg is gone, we are comfortable that his entire scheme will be rejected,” said Cordiello. “We are grateful that so many elected leaders in this city are choosing the facts as a path to a conclusion, rather than a conclusion as a path to the facts.”

As routines resumed, parents rejoiced.

“We had to adjust our work schedule to drop her off every day to and from school,” said Kristen Kim, whose daughter attends Mill Neck Manor School in Long Island, a specialized school for children who are hard of hearing. “Thank goodness it’s over for now. The next mayor will have to revisit and hopefully solve this issue.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 9. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Thursday night: Clear. Low of 27 with a windchill as low as 18. Breezy. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Skimming the Surface

Dance Entropy presents a special performance featuring repertory favorites alongside premiere works in celebration of the modern dance company’s 15th anniversary season. The action centers around a table and 24 knives. Feb. 21-23, 8 p.m.; Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Burglar swipes electronics from Long Island City church

An unholy burglar broke into a Long Island City church Monday, stealing some of its electronics. Read more: Queens Courier

Man killed by Queens cop car responding to emergency  

A man is dead after a patrol car struck him at a Long Island City intersection Thursday, according to police. Read more: Queens Courier

Final budget dance for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Hall

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is taking her final spin in the annual budget dance with City Hall. Read more: New York Daily News

Bloomberg administration urges judge not to delay ban on large sugary beverages set to take effect March 12

The Bloomberg administration Wednesday urged a judge not to delay the start of the planned March 12 launch of the mayor’s ban on large sugary drinks, saying the lives of New Yorkers were at stake. Read more: New York Daily News

School bus drivers back on the job, but not some matrons

New York City school bus drivers who serve more than 150,000 children have returned to work after a month-long strike. Read more: ABC New York

Obama weighs stepping in on gay marriage case

Facing heightened expectations from gay rights supporters, the Obama administration is considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage – a move that could have a far-reaching impact on same-sex couples across the country. Read more: AP

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 36 with a windchill as low as 16. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 25F with a windchill as low as 12. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Mid Winter Nocturnal Hike

Explore Alley Pond Environmental Center’s trails in search of evening animals. The special early evening hike will include APEC’s live nocturnal animal demonstration, hot cocoa and munchies. For children ages 7 and up. Pre-registration required. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rape suspect caught after jumping subway turnstile

A Queens man wanted for an August rape was apprehended after he was arrested for subway fare evasion, said police. Read more: Queens Courier

NYC school bus service set to resume for first time in a month

New York City school buses will roll in force on Wednesday morning, for the first time in a whole month. Read more: CBS New York

Raw sewage spilling onto Queens block causing a stink among baffled neighbors

One bad neighbor is causing a major stink for a Queens community. A Woodhaven house has been spewing raw sewage onto the street from a faulty drain pipe for over six weeks, and neighbors are frustrated that city agencies have been unable to compel a fix. Read more: New York Daily News

7 line back to normal after power outage

Things are back to normal on the No. 7 line Wednesday after a power failure to the switches made for a commuting nightmare Tuesday night. Read more: ABC New York

Mother of beach-slay victim received eerie text from daughter after she disappeared

The mother of a Queens woman whose bound body washed ashore over the weekend received a single, startling text from her daughter’s phone the day she disappeared, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

DOE may let some city students who fail state tests move on to next grade

The Department of Education plans to change the policy requiring students who fail state tests to pass summer school or repeat a grade level. Read more: NY1

China says U.S. hacking accusations lack technical proof

Accusations by a U.S. computer security company that a secretive Chinese military unit is likely behind a series of hacking attacks are scientifically flawed and hence unreliable, China’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. Read more: Reuters

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast with rain showers. High of 46. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Tuesday night: Overcast with a chance of snow and rain showers in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 30F with a windchill as low as 23. Breezy. Winds from the West at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Open-Mic Storytelling Show at The Creek & the Cave

Every Tuesday at The Creek & the Cave in Long Island City, Jake Hart (The Moth, Nights of Our Lives, Local Stories) hosts an open-mic storytelling show from 7-9 p.m. No themes, no judges, and you get 8 minutes to tell whatever true story you want. Plus, special guest storytellers! Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens NYPD sergeant arrested for allegedly having child porn on computer

A 15-year veteran of the NYPD from Queens has been arrested for allegedly having child pornography on his computer, according to police and published reports. Read more: Queens Courier

NFL lineman Da’Quan Bowers flagged for gun at LaGuardia

A muscle-bound NFL lineman was busted at La Guardia Airport yesterday for packing a powerful .40-caliber handgun in a carry-on bag as he tried to board a flight, authorities said. Read more: New York Post

Walcott: City school buses ready to roll

City education officials say they are ready for regular school bus service to resume Wednesday. Read more: NY1

Subway heroes save stranger who fell onto tracks

Three men jumped onto the subway tracks to save a man who fell off a Manhattan platform early Sunday, barely avoiding the next train rolling into the station. Read more: NBC New York

Four-legged victims of Superstorm Sandy still looking for homes

Cinnamon, a friendly, one-eyed dog plucked off the streets of Rockaway after Superstorm Sandy, is trying to settle into her new digs in upstate New York. Read more: New York Daily News

Oscar Pistorius charged with premeditated murder

Olympian Oscar Pistorius fired into the door of a small bathroom where his girlfriend was cowering after a shouting match on Valentine’s Day, hitting her three times, a South African prosecutor said Tuesday as he charged the sports icon with premeditated murder. Read more: ABC New York

Certain television fare can help ease aggression in young children, study finds

Experts have long known that children imitate many of the deeds — good and bad — that they see on television. But it has rarely been shown that changing a young child’s viewing habits at home can lead to improved behavior. Read more: New York Times

 

Drivers expected to end school bus strike tonight


| dromano@homereporter.com

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Ted Levin

UPDATE (8 p.m.): Mayor Bloomberg, city officials and union members have announced that the school bus strike is over.

According to several local politicians, including State Senator Marty Golden and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who posted the news on Facebook, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 is expected to officially end the school bus strike at 7 p.m. Friday.

If drivers do decide to go back to work, school buses will be available to students as early as 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The welcome news comes just a day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address at the Barclays Center, where he called the strike a “lost cause.”

 -With additional reporting by Toni Cimino 

Bus companies bid for routes as drivers continue to strike


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

The first major bid for bus routes in more than 33 years garnered 67 requests from bus companies, clamoring for over 1,100 routes, according to the Department of Education (DOE).

Bidding for the contracts ended on Monday, February 11, almost a month into the citywide bus strike. The bids are worth approximately $1 billion over the next five years, according to the DOE.

The bidding process, implemented in 2011, resulted in projected savings of $95 million.

In December, the DOE issued a Request for Bid (RFB) for 1,110 special education bus route contracts, set to expire on June 30. The new contracts are expected to be in place by the start of the 2013 school year.

Drivers from Local 1181 began striking on January 16, fighting to ensure contracts have Employee Protection Provisions (EPP) that state drivers will retain runs, regardless of what company oversees the route.

According to published reports, several school bus companies are suing the city to remove EPP for senior workers from existing private bus contracts. The names of the companies have not been released.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High of 43. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Clear. Low of 30. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jewish Love Songs: from the Shtetl to Second Avenue

The Capitol Heights Lyric Opera presents, Jewish Love Songs: from the Shtetl to Second Avenue, a tribute to the Jewish love song, from the traditional (“Tum Balalaika”) to the immigrant era (“My Yiddishe Mame”) to the golden years of Yiddish Theater (“Bei Mir Bist Du Sheyn”). February 12 at the Forest Hills Library. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Willets Point property owners want city to pay legal fees after extensive eminent domain clash

The legal sparring over Willets Point isn’t quite over yet. Lawyers representing more than a dozen business owners of the gritty Iron Triangle are awaiting a judge’s decision on whether the city will be required to pay their legal expenses, which have surpassed more than $1 million. Read more: New York Daily News

With eye on mayor’s office, Quinn turns her attention to income inequality

Christine C. Quinn, confronting an emerging theme among her rivals in the Democratic mayoral primary, proposed an affordable housing plan and a middle-class tax break on Monday, in an acknowledgment that not all New Yorkers have prospered equally under the Bloomberg administration. Read more: New York Times

Lawsuit seeks to toss current employee protections for school bus drivers

Several school bus companies have filed a lawsuit against New York City Monday, seeking to have existing protections for drivers declared illegal as those drivers press on with a strike. Read more: CBS New York

Five city firehouses headed for landmark status

Five city firehouses, including a 100-year-old Rockaway building that escaped the fire and floods of Superstorm Sandy, could soon receive landmark designation. Read more: New York Daily News

Fake grenades in bag force Port Authority evacuation

The Port Authority bus terminal was evacuated and closed for under an hour Monday evening as police investigated a traveler’s report of a bag containing what appeared to be grenades, authorities said. Read more: NBC New York

Obama to stress jobs, guns in State of the Union

The American public will get a competing mix of rhetoric and imagery in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, a speech that offers a heavy dose on the economy even as it plays out against a visual backdrop dominated by the current national debate over guns. Read more: ABC New York

China joins U.S., Japan in condemning North Korea nuclear test

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in defiance of existing U.N. resolutions, drawing condemnation from around the world, including from its only major ally, China, which summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest. Read more: Reuters

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 25. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 25 with a windchill as low as 18F. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Tony Hawk/Rad Science

At the New York Hall of Science’s Tony Hawk/Rad Science find out how the physics of gravity, force, velocity and balance make radical tricks possible in action sports. This new exhibition shows how a visit to a local skatepark can demonstrate important physics principles. Explore over 25 interactive experiences including. Free with museum admission. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

School bus strike actually saving the city money, despite payouts to parents

A crippling school bus strike has forced the city to shell out millions of dollars to transport kids to school — but the strike has actually saved taxpayers money, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

1st round of Sandy relief funds being distributed

New York is getting nearly $3.5 billion in the first release of funds from the $50.5 billion emergency relief measure enacted last month for Superstorm Sandy victims. Read more: ABC New York

Major coastal storm could dump a foot of snow on tri-state by weekend

After a relatively mild winter in terms of snow accumulation, a looming powerful coastal storm threatens to bury the tri-state area by the weekend, forecasters say. Read more: NBC New York

Civic Virtue may be gone but not forgotten by Queens activists

The controversial Triumph of Civic Virtue statue may be long gone from Queens Boulevard but some local activists are still fighting to find how and why it was moved. Read more: New York Daily News

Worker rescued after getting stuck while inspecting Roosevelt Island Tram

A worker had to be rescued Tuesday after his foot got stuck while inspecting the Roosevelt Island Tram. Read more: NY1

Boy Scouts of America expected to vote on ending on gay membership ban

Boy Scouts of America board members are expected to vote on Wednesday on whether to end a longstanding and controversial ban on gay membership. Read more: Reuters

 

 

School bus strike deemed legal by federal labor board


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled the school bus strike legal, contrary to previous statements by city officials.

“I’m glad that they deemed it legal,” said Maria Gentile, a bus driver from Howard Beach. “This puts more pressure on the city to step up to the plate and get the kids back to school.”

Gentile, who called the ruling “one step closer to victory,” said her and the other drivers just want to get back to work.

According to a statement issued by Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello, drivers could be back on the roads by Monday, if Bloomberg agrees to meet them at the bargaining table.

“All we ask is that he suspend the bids, and is willing to discuss ways to reduce costs within the school bus transportation industry, which the Union has shown has nothing to do with keeping the most experienced school bus crews on the road,” said Cordiello.

 

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Striking school bus drivers stand by their demands


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photo by Alexa Altman

Maria Gentile has driven a school bus for more than 34 years. She knows the name of every student she carries along her route, through Bayside, Douglaston and Oakland Gardens. She’s witnessed the first and last days of school for countless families. When she drops a child off at home, she doesn’t drive away until they’ve made it safely inside.

“Safety is first with the children,” said Gentile, who gathered with dozens of other striking drivers outside a bus depot in Jamaica. Two weeks into the citywide school bus strike, drivers remain firmly behind their demands, calling specifically for job security.

“We just want to keep our jobs. That’s it,” said bus driver Jessica Saltos of Queens Village. “We’re not looking for a raise, healthcare, a pension, nothing at all. We want to keep working. That’s it.”

According to Gentile, drivers are fighting to retain the Employee Protection Provision (EPP), an amendment added in 1979 that guarantees drivers will retain routes, regardless of which company oversees the bid.

Strikers believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to instate makeshift drivers could be hazardous for the thousands of children who take buses to school. Certification, which normally takes roughly a year and includes drug testing, fingerprinting and hours of training, will take less than 24 hours for fill-in drivers.

“If the mayor wants to put a child in a vehicle with a driver who has no experience, what does that say?” said Gentile. “They’re going to rush to the school and throw the kid off the bus because they don’t care.”

The substitute bus drivers are set to make $14 an hour, a wage many drivers agreed doesn’t promote job longevity or dedication.

“[Bloomberg] is putting the almighty dollar above children’s safety,” said a driver.

On Monday, January 28, representatives from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 met with a mediator, Justice Milton Mollen, to discuss drivers’ concerns. While city officials did not attend the meeting, Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said Bloomberg’s involvement in arbitration is “necessary to move towards a resolution and end this strike.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast. Fog early. High of 54. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the East in the afternoon. Chance of rain 20%. Tuesday Night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 41. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Queens Public Library book event with NYT author Carl Weber

Carl Weber is a Queens native and a New York Times bestselling author. Join him as he celebrates the release of his latest book, “The Man in 3B,” with refreshments and big fun at the Queens Central Library on January 29 at 6 p.m. Free and open to the public. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

MTA delays new system that will replace MetroCards with ‘smart’ debit or credit cards

The MTA is delaying implementation of a new fare-payment system that will replace the MetroCard. Read more: New York Daily News

More non-union school bus drivers spark heated protests

A heated protest is expected Tuesday morning over New York City’s ongoing school bus strike. Read more: ABC New York

State seeking suitors to build new Kosciuszko Bridge

State officials are creating a short-list of suitors that will get a chance to reshape a vital link between Brooklyn and Queens. Read more: New York Daily News

New FEMA flood maps double number of local at-risk homes

Some New Yorkers who saw their homes badly damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy will have to rebuild three to six feet above their house’s current level. Read more: NY1

Ex-Mayor Ed Koch re-hospitalized after 2 days

he spokesman for former New York City Mayor Ed Koch says he’s been re-admitted to the hospital two days after he was released. Read more: ABC New York

Some New York City restaurants ban food photography by customers

If you’re one of the thousands of people who snap pictures of your food and instantly share them on social media, you might be surprised to learn that some restaurants are now banning photos of their food. Read more: CBS New York

Obama launches push for immigration overhaul

Seeking swift action on immigration, President Barack Obama on Tuesday will try to rally public support behind his proposals for giving millions of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, as well as making improvements to the legal immigration system and border security. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


 TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with snow, then ice pellets and snow in the afternoon. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 25F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 80% . Monday night: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 37. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Repetition in Design

Repetition in Design, on display at the Queens Botanical Garden, is a series of oil paintings on canvas by QBG’s Supervising Museum Instructor Gennadyi Gurman. Some of these pieces are influenced by the way the 8-bit video games from the 1980s looked, also from cartoons; but all show a bright color contrast. Until April 15 and free with admission. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Four-alarm fire guts commercial building in Queens

Business owners in Queens are assessing the damage after a fast-moving four-alarm fire ripped through a commercial building late Sunday. Read more: ABC New York

NYC school bus companies, union to meet Monday

New York City school bus companies and union leaders are to meet Monday in an effort to resolve the strike. Read more: Fox New York

City plans to put new schools in two struggling Queens high schools

Two struggling Queens high schools could soon become a lot more crowded. Read more: New York Daily News

MoMA PS1 wants to build performance dome in the Rockaways

Plans are in the works to bring a unique performance dome to the Rockaways. Read more: NY1

Schumer: Federal Sandy aid bill funds Army Corps’ projects on city coastlines

The U.S. Senate is set to vote on a Hurricane Sandy aid bill on Monday evening, and Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday the bill would provide more than $1 billion to protect the coastlines of the city and Long Island. Read more: NY1

Police chiefs from Newtown, Aurora to meet with Obama

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet today with law enforcement groups and police chiefs from several communities impacted by mass shootings to discuss the administration’s intensifying push to reduce gun violence. Read more: CBS News

Bipartisan Senate group proposes immigration plan

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has agreed on a framework for immigration reform that would provide a “path to citizenship” for those in the United States illegally but only after measures are put in place to secure borders and track undocumented immigrants. Read more: Reuters

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast. High of 25 with a windchill as low as 1F. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 20%. Wednesday night: Overcast with a chance of snow. Low of 16F with a windchill as low as 5. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 20%

Board reviews legality of school bus strike

Now into its fifth day, the strike by more than 8,000 school bus drivers and matrons is under review by the National Labor Relations Board. Read more: Fox New York

Long Island Rail Road employees face bust in big copper caper

More than a dozen Long Island Railroad workers will be slapped with criminal charges after a probe into the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of copper from the MTA, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

Bitter temperatures keep tri-state area in deep freeze

Bitter Arctic air is keeping temperatures well below freezing across the Tri-State area. Read more: CBS New York

Bystander shot in Empire State gun battle sues cops

A North Carolina college student injured during the wild police shootout with a gunman at the Empire State Building last August is suing the city — saying NYPD officers created a “dangerous and deadly confrontation” that resulted in nine wounded bystanders. Read more: New York Post

Hillary Clinton to face Congress on Benghazi assault

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton faces tough questions in her long-awaited congressional testimony concerning the assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Read more: ABC New York

Man charged in shooting on Texas college campus

A 22-year-old man has been charged in a shooting on a community college campus in Texas that left three people wounded, one critically, authorities said. Read more: Reuters

 

 

School bus strike may end this week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The school bus driver walkout that began Wednesday may be over as soon as early this week.

According to the New York Daily News, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is expected to rule on a formal complaint from the private bus companies that provide the yellow bus service.

Those bus companies are claiming that the strike is illegal and that they are being financially punished because of it.

If the NRLB rules on the side of the bus companies, then drivers could be back to work as early as Tuesday.

On January 16, drivers from Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union walked off the job, affecting 152,000 students, including 54,000 with disabilities.

In an effort to cut costs,  the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years. The union is objecting to the lack of  job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.

The city’s last school bus strike, in 1979, lasted 14 weeks.

 

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School attendance improves on bus strike’s second day, but not for disabled students


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Alexa Altman

Although parents and students had to scramble to get their children to school this week because of the bus strike, more reportedly made it to class on the second day of the walkout.

But for many disabled students, it hasn’t been as easy. Their attendance is still significantly lower.

“I can’t take him on the subway because there are no elevators, and I can’t take a cab because his wheelchair doesn’t fold up,” Carmen Padilla, whose 18-year-old son is a paraplegic and has cerebral palsy, told the Daily News.

Have your children been absent or had difficulties getting to school because of the strike?  Comment below and tell us how the bus driver walkout has affected you.

 

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