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It is inhumane that school bus companies with the Office of Pupil Transportation contracted through the NYC Department of Education for public school students, particularly District 75, continue to transport our students with disabilities during the summer months in New York City with insufficient air conditioning or no air conditioning at all especially during a heat wave when New York City Administrative Code; Title 19: Transportation; Chapter 6: School Bus Service; 19-605, Air conditioning states:
§ 19–605 Air-conditioning.
a. Any bus or other motor vehicle transporting a child with a disability to and from a school in the city pursuant to any agreement or contract shall be air-conditioned when the ambient outside temperature exceeds seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Drivers of all such vehicles shall utilize such air conditioning systems in order to make the internal climate of such vehicles comfortable to passengers in order to protect or enhance the health of children with disabilities. Any failure, mechanical or otherwise, of an air-conditioning system required by this section shall be repaired and restored to operable condition as soon as is practicable, but in no event more than three business days subsequent to the failure. For purposes of this section, "child with a disability" shall mean a child with a disability as defined in section 4401(1) of the education law who requires an air-conditioned environment for health reasons.
b. The penalty provisions set forth in section 19–607 of this chapter shall not apply to any violation of the provisions of this section. Any owner, operator or contractor responsible for transporting a child with a disability to and from a school in the city pursuant to any agreement or contract shall be liable for a civil penalty of four hundred dollars for each violation of this section.
To minimize or better yet eliminate the number of recurring complaints of no air condition or insufficient air condition on mini wagons during the summer months for students with disabilities, a modification to the administrative code should be made to specify that: where students with disabilities who attend a twelve month program that "all motor vehicles maintain a comfortable internal temperature especially during the months of July and August; that all motor vehicles transporting students with disabilities during the summer months are inspected for functional and sufficient air conditioning prior to the commencement of the route for the summer."
Thank you for your support!
Dear Council Member,
I am the parent to a 10 year old daughter affected by Autism; a special needs child. My daughter attends P993@P499, District 75. I am writing to you today in hopes to gain your support to help modify New York City Administrative Code; Title 19: Transportation; Chapter 6: School Bus Service; 19-605, Air conditioning to specify where students with disabilities who attend a twelve month program that all motor vehicles maintain a comfortable internal temperature especially during the months of July and August. That all motor vehicles transporting students with disabilities during the summer months are inspected for functional and sufficient air conditioning prior to the commencement of the route for the summer.
Myself and other parents in the community have filed numerous complaints in the past with the Office of Pupil Transportation for school buses transporting our children with no air conditioning or insufficient air conditioning during the summer months morevoer during a heatwave. While most issues are eventually resolved, it is a recurring issue that can be minimized if precautionary measures were in place.
Parents, including myself, have been advised when filing complaints with OPT that an "air conditioned mini wagon" is required on a student's IEP for a student's school bus to have air condition. Although my daughter has this provision in place on her IEP, the issue still occurs almost every summer. We, in the special needs community, feel that sufficient and adequate air conditioned school buses should not be an accommodation but a requirement. Too often special needs students are on school buses for an hour or more riding in a hot, uncomfortable school bus with no air condition or an air conditioning system that only ventilates from the front with the back windows down. My daughter has come home on several occasions over-heated, lethargic, and over heated. My daughter rides with a school bus para. Therefore, I always have first hand information on the climate conditions of my daughter's school bus.
We, in the special needs community, have found that the dual air conditioned school buses are what is most appropriate. Most recently I have filed two complaints with OPT this summer for no air condition and then insufficient air condition. The final resolution was for a replacement school bus with dual air condition, so my daughter and the rest of the students riding the route can be comfortable for the remainder of the summer session.
I hope that you would consider assisting the special needs community with this situation so that our most vulnerable children do not continue to suffer another summer with this type of conditions.
Thank you in advance for your time.
Mother to a daughter with Autism