Bus driver shortage leaves special-needs child at home

VIDEO: School bus driver shortage now impacting students with special needs

SEATTLE — The mother of a special needs 5-year-old in Seattle told KIRO 7 that her son’s school bus hasn’t shown up once this school year in the morning to take him to B.F. Day Elementary School.

She showed KIRO 7 an agreement made with the district for him to be picked up at home by a bus and dropped off at school. The law requires school districts to provide transportation for special needs students if it's part of their education plan.

"We were standing by this window, the bus never showed up,” said Tiffany Connors, who described her son’s disappointment when she said the bus never showed up on the first day of school.

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Connors said he has taken the bus home, but even that bus doesn’t always show up or arrive on time.

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Connors said she and her husband have received phone calls almost daily from Seattle Public Schools saying their son’s bus will be delayed in the morning and afternoon – sometimes by up to 2.5 hours – with short notice.

"A teacher had to bring him home,” said Connors. “There was one day that they called me, I had no warning the bus wasn't going to show up."

Seattle Public Schools said the delays are because of a school bus driver shortage that KIRO 7 has reported on.

Last week, the bus service SPS contracts with, First Student, said they were down about 40 drivers then.

"It's frustrating, not going to lie about that,” said Will Zimmerman with First Student.

KIRO 7’s request for more information from First Student was not immediately returned. Seattle Public Schools said it was looking into it.

“Kind of sad and angry,” said Delano Connors, Tiffany’s son. “Because I wish I could ride the bus.”

Tiffany said she’s now forced to work from home in order to make sure her son gets to and from school. But in the afternoons, he sometimes has to wait more than an hour, she said, to be picked up and dropped off at home.

“This has been the hardest month of our lives,” said Connors. “It’s an outrage.”

KIRO 7 checked Seattle Public Schools bus delay website Wednesday. It showed 18 bus routes, including Delano’s, that reported delays that afternoon.

There was no mention of routes being canceled.