WASHINGTON (7News) — Thursday afternoon outside Hardy Middle School in Georgetown, Joann McCray walked her 11-year-old son past school buses to a spot where she stopped to call an Uber, then said “22 dollars and 74 centers is what it's going to cost for us to get home.”
She said her son, J’Don Chisley who is autistic and a special ed student, should be on the busses with a number of his classmates from Anne Beers Elementary in Southeast, who also moved to Hardy, but somehow he fell through the cracks and it costs roughly $80 a day for her to make four trips a day to get him from their home in far Southeast to Hardy in Georgetown.
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She said it came as a shock when she learned this first week of school that her son, who has had school bus transportation for years, was not being picked up.
“On Thursday the lady called me from the school to verify the address,” said McCray, “So when she called Thursday to verify the address I’m like okay she’s going to put the school bus in the system. Monday I called OSSE at five o’clock in the morning to see what time the bus will be here and she said, there’s nothing in the system for your son.”
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OSSE stands for Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the agency that runs the school bus system, which in DC is reserved only for special education students. Other students are expected to use public transportation to get to and from school.
McCray says she complained to a list of agencies from the mayor’s office on down. She said finally, yesterday they told her it would take at least 10 days before they could find transportation for her son, and OSSE said it would not reimburse her for transporting her son to school because it wasn’t OSSE’s fault, but the school’s fault for not entering her son’s name.
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“I don’t know who’s supposed to pay 80 dollars a day times 10 days,” said McCray, “ That’s 800 dollars that’s almost my rent money with no reimbursement, that’s not fair.”
7News ran into officials of OSSE at a Mayor Bowser event and put McCray’s case before them. They said they would look into it.
This evening OSSE issued a statement that it “has been in touch with the parent, is working to get the students routed as quickly as possible, and OSSE will reimburse the family for transportation expenses.”
This news will be a relief for McCray who said she’s been borrowing money to get her son to school.