25 Investigates: No Boston bus rides for some students with special needs

BOSTON — It’s day two of classes in the state’s largest school district and transportation continues to be an issue.

As Boston 25 News has been reporting all week, a shortage of bus drivers has left many students, including those with special needs, without a ride to or from school.

Boston 25 News Anchor Kerry Kavanaugh has been hearing from parents about the struggles.

RELATED: Boston school bus drivers call for postponement of first day

Boston Public Schools told Kavanaugh they improved their on-time rate from 57 percent on Thursday to 81 percent Friday.

Parents and advocates for those families said kids across the school district are going without rides and are getting few answers from Boston Public Schools.

It’s especially challenging for children with special needs who have already faced 18 months of setbacks.

Like 9-year-old twins Dylan and Jacoby Mercado Robles, of Roxbury.

They attend different schools – one in Charlestown and the other in Chinatown.

Both went to the bus stop Friday and neither was picked up, according to their mother Leslie Robles.

“I have two different schools, two different areas. I have to take a lot of transportation. I have to take the train and the bus,” she said.

RELATED: Bus issues mar Boston’s back to school

She told Kavanaugh that no one ever picked up the phone when she called looking for answers, or put her on hold and hung up.

“I finally got somebody and they told me they don’t have a (bus) monitor,” she said.

Kavanaugh also spoke with an advocate who said she has been hearing fro concerned parents all week who can’t get their kids to and from school.

Her name is Yahaira Lopez and she runs the group Autism Sprinter.

“We’re trying to come up with different ideas that we can give to the school district because literally our messenger, our email is just blowing up from parents throughout the city of Boston,” Lopez said. “At the end of the day, this is a violation of students’ special education rights.”

RELATED: Boston families anxious about new bus routes ahead of first day of school

Lopez said they are encouraging Boston Public Schools to explore other ideas like ride share vouchers for parents to get their kids to school, or requesting help from the MBTA ride service.

In a statement, Boston Public Schools told Kavanaugh:

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) is committed to doing everything possible to ensure all students in the City of Boston are getting to and from school safe and on time.

We know that students and families were unfortunately impacted by disruptions to yellow bus service yesterday and today and we apologize for this inconvenience.

The on-time arrival rate for our buses on Thursday exceeded the district’s five-year average and BPS is encouraged that the rate has increased substantially today to 81%.

We will continue to work to improve this critical service for our families through active hiring for open positions including bus monitors and bus drivers, and consolidation of routes to meet the needs of our students.

Boston Public Schools also told Kavanaugh they looked into the situation involving the twins and said this was not the case of an uncovered bus, but rather the driver missed the stop and officials would reach out to the family.

The statement also said that on September 1, Boston Public Schools reported 96 vacancies for bus monitors. They have 60 applicants submitted for hire and 30 hires completed. Boston Public Schools said it would continue their robust hiring efforts to ensure there are bus monitors for students with IEPs.