Nov. 19, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Local lawmakers are demanding an explanation from the Department of Education (DOE) on its failure to equip city school buses with GPS tracking by the beginning of the school year, as required by a recently adopted law.
Council Members Robert Holden and Ben Kallos penned a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza last week asking for an explanation as to why the tracking system was not in place by the first day of the 2019-2020 school year.
The Nov. 14 letter was co-signed by nearly two dozen additional council members supporting Holden and Kallos’ letter.
The local law requires every school bus in New York City to be equipped with GPS tracking technology. It stipulates that GPS data, including real time locations and velocity of buses, must be made available to authorized parents and guardians whose students take the yellow buses.
The council members state that when the law was passed on Feb. 2, 2019, the DOE had seven months before the beginning of the next school year to plan accordingly.
The law went into effect on the first day of this school year. According to the letter, a DOE official told Holden the technology would be fully operational by the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
“That would put the DOE one full year behind schedule, and in effect it is breaking the law,” the letter states.
Parents have access to individualized schedules, real-time locations, pick-up and drop-off times for each student via their New York City Schools Account which parents can create online, according to the DOE.
The department is also insourcing and fully staffing its Office of Pupil Transportation call center, which parents can call in order to receive individual route information for their child’s bus.
A spokesperson for the department said that the GPS technology was installed on every bus by the first day of school. However, the DOE is working with ride-sharing app Via to create an app for parents to track their child’s school bus and the app is still in development.
“Every day we bus 150,000 students to school and this year we successfully installed GPS on every bus by the first day of school,” DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot said. “As soon as the bill was enacted we began the procurement process, and are working to provide parents with access to busing information in an efficient and effective way by the start of next school year.”