UPDATE – 2:00 p.m.
To my beloved blog readers who loved on me this morning by sharing my story -
I was contacted this morning by two different school officials and they are making sure that Travis gets his ride home. They say they’ve scheduled a loud, white, good-and-bumpy bus with a fancy lift platform that creaks and squeaks and goes up and down. It will, hopefully, be dropping him off at his front door tomorrow afternoon.
I don’t quite know how to say “thank you” but the grateful tears streaming down my face right now say it all.
Much love – Susan
I’ve hesitated to write the following (and on-going) saga with the local school system over getting a simple bus ride home in the afternoon for Travis. My fear is that once I got started typing about it, I’d end up with The Longest Blog Post in History and readers would see the not so pretty side of Sus and end up ditching the post halfway through in favor of light and fluffy or War and Peace. But I’m typing it today because I feel the need to share the story if for no other reason other than to a) show the death of common sense in America or b) vent.
Take your pick.
Sit back, dear ones, and in the words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me ‘splain. No, too long. Let me sum up.”
Travis loves the bus. He loves the color, the size, the shape, the sound, the fun blinking lights that flash and the swing-arm stop sign that halts everything for a minute while kids happily pile off at the end of the day. He has looked forward to every field trip day just so that he could have a chance to ride in that big rambling loud box on wheels and I have shed more than one happy tear watching him squeal and clap while getting hoisted up on the lift to head for adventures unknown. He (and all the boys) have been asking me to ride the bus home from school for years but I AM the Carpool Queen and have enjoyed taking and picking them up and so I’ve resisted up to this year.
Travis is getting heavier and lifting him and his wheelchair in and out of the car can be hard on my back and shoulders (and especially for my aging parents and in-laws who care for him when Craig and I have to travel) and so earlier this year I decided to cut down on the amount of lifting I have to do by letting the bus bring him home in the afternoon (believe it or not, one trip home in the afternoon saves my back from six lifts a day). And the added joy to his life of getting to spend fifteen minutes rambling home in the afternoon? Gravy on top.
I began in June trying to get the bus to bring him home. I went to the website and found out that based on our location, I was required to deal with a specific district office. So I called that office and quickly discovered that they didn’t/don’t seem to have anyone who answers the phone and so I had to leave a message.
Which I did.
For two weeks.
(In the five months that I have been calling them, I’ve never once had a live person answer. Except for once. And more on that later.)
After two weeks of message-leaving in June (and sometimes not being able to leave a message because the voicemail box was full), I phoned the main Transportation number at the central office, explained that I hadn’t been successful getting anyone in weeks of trying and the person at the central office apologized and gave me the direct line for the district supervisor.
And when I called that number and she said, “Hello?” and I very politely told her the reason for my call? Instead of saying, “I’m so sorry that you haven’t received a call back from my staff, ma’am”, do you know what she said? Angrily?
“How did you get my private number?”
Anyway, after telling me that she was not the person that could help me (um, isn’t she the supervisor?) she said she’d have someone call me back and to their credit, two days later, they did. And informed me that apparently you can’t just ask for a lift bus to pick up your child who is wheelchair bound because it has to be written in the child’s education plan that they require it.
So I called the school and the teacher told me that they wouldn’t have time to schedule a meeting for several weeks (because “we’re too busy working on all the kids that are supposed to be getting transportation and they’re not”) but they’d do their best to get that on the calendar as quickly as possible (“after I get back from vacation”). This conversation took place the second week of July.
In AUGUST I was told that Travis would have to have a complete re-evaluation of all his strengths, weaknesses, IQ, physical, emotional and mental capacities in order to include transportation services in his education plan (IEP). To which I said, “You mean we’re going to have to do all this testing just to say at the end of the day that, yes, he’s still in a wheelchair so he needs a lift bus?” And she said, “Basically. That’s what the law requires and our hands are tied.”
So the meeting to add all of this new information
that wasn’t going to change was scheduled for September, which was the earliest date they could get everybody together including the representative from Transportation who was required to be there. Two days before the meeting, Transportation called saying they couldn’t attend and so we had to reschedule.
And in OCTOBER when we held the rescheduled meeting, guess who wasn’t there when our session convened?
You guessed it, a representative from Transportation.
And so when we all sat in the room and the principal asked where and why they weren’t there and he heard my chronology of events and saw the look on my face, he stood up and left the room and twenty minutes later a very unhappy Transportation supervisor walked in the door.
And I forever fell in love with our principal.
So we had the meeting, talked about what he needed, she wrote down all of his details and everyone left with promises of scheduling and a bus for T when school started back in three weeks and yet yesterday? When it came time for him to come home?
Not only was there no bus, but suddenly every one of those fifteen people who had sat in the room in early October had no idea where to even start looking for it.
And so I picked him up (the other two caught their regular bus and please tell me why we can’t have them all together) and came home and called the answering machine at the district transportation office again and left a polite message and got a call back at 6:00 last night from someone who promised to look into it but I said that I’d prefer to wait on the phone so that she could discuss it with her supervisor WHO WAS AT THE MEETING and finally the supervisor came on the line and said, “He’s not in the system and I can’t do anything about it until someone at his school codes him in as needing special transportation.”
And I silently screamed.
And I said, “You mean it’s not enough that you were at the meeting with fifteen representatives from that school that all signed a piece of paper saying that he needed it?”
“Well, no, I need the system to tell me he needs it so I can schedule it.”
And before I get wrapped around the axle twice in less than twenty-four hours, I’m going to wrap up this post and practice some deep breathing and then go hit the phones to make sure that someone types “Yes” into one , tiny, blinking field on the school’s mainframe so that my kid can ride the bus home and I can be done with this chapter in my life.
Hopefully before November.
Have a nice day.