Nearly six months after classes began, Chicago public schools say they now provide transportation services to all special education students who need it, though officials say there are still “many underserved students” who don’t get the right bus.
Last month, there were more than 700 special education students who have not yet boarded a bus during the current academic year. But as of this week, each of these children is now receiving legally provided transportation from the district.
“We now provide services to about 10,000 different students through our transportation department,” CPS Director General Pedro Martinez said during a meeting of the Board of Education on Wednesday. “I know it has been tackling the shortage of drivers in the country, so I’m glad we’re at this stage.”
During the current school year, the county had problems with providing students with adequate buses, in part because of the shortage mentioned by Martinez.
According to the CPS, it provides bus transportation to about 10,000 special education students and 10,000 general education students. But the district started this year with only 500 of the 1,200 bus drivers needed to meet that demand.
During the year the CPS offered families who were required to receive bus transportation a one-time payment of $ 1,000 along with monthly payments of $ 500 if they chose to bring children to and from school on their own. The county also offered sellers incentives of $ 1,000 to try to attract new drivers.
Despite this, the CPS took more than half of the academic year to connect all of its special education students to the proper bus.
On Wednesday, Martinez said the county is now seeking to review its transportation policy for next school year to avoid dropping special education students.
“Our goal remains to provide transportation to all our eligible students,” he said, “but we want to make it clear about the recommendation that if there is a shortage of drivers next year, we will give preference to our students (disability ) and (individualized educational plans) ”.
Following these children, the CPS gives priority to students in temporary residence and those from low-income families – some of whom do not currently receive bus services.
Board member Lucina Satella said all special education students were dispersed, saying it was “a step in the right direction”, but he noted that the CPS still has “a lot of students who are not served”.
“Great progress, but we continue to solve existing problems by trying to provide this (transport),” he said.
CPS representatives did not immediately respond to a WTTW request about how many students had not yet received the necessary transportation services.
Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431