Update on this story. The NYC bus drivers’ union began striking Wednesday after the city had the temerity to finally question paying $6900/year for each child for busing and sought to go out for private bid. Of course, the union is acting “for the children”.
The second day of the school bus strike exposed a cruel reality: The city’s most helpless children are its greatest victims.
Thousands of disabled children receive wide-ranging therapies at school — and many are fully dependent on school buses.
“I can’t take him on the subway because there are no elevators, and I can’t take a cab because his wheelchair doesn’t fold up,” groused Carmen Padilla, whose 18-year-old son Brandon Concepcion is a paraplegic suffering from cerebral palsy.
Brandon spent the second day of the school bus strike the same way he did the first: Propped up on a dark brown recliner.
His mother shifted his legs every couple of hours to stimulate blood flow. That’s a far cry from the exercise he gets at the United Cerebral Palsy’s Millicent V. Hearst Children’s Center, where he undergoes physical and occupational therapy.
Without the stretching and swimming he’s used to, Brandon’s legs have been seizing up. He cries out every time his mother touches his lower extremities.
“He’s in pain,” said Padilla, who cares for Brandon alone in her Williamsburg, Brooklyn, apartment. “That’s why it’s so important for him to be in school and have these services.”
He’s not alone. More than a third of students at special education schools missed class on Thursday. Half failed to make it on Wednesday.
As the strike threatened to stretch on for weeks or even months, the situation could soon become even more complicated for parents like Padilla.