MAHOPAC, N.Y. - After the first day of the new school year last week, many Mahopac School District parents said they’re angry after buses were sometimes hours late bringing their kids to and from school, with some not getting picked up at all
In an email to parents on Sept. 5, School Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo apologized for the transportation chaos, calling the service that the district provided “inconsistent and unreliable.”
In an interview with Mahopac News, DiCarlo said there were multiple reasons for the mix-up, ranging from schedule changes to kids forgetting their bus numbers.
“The last 24 hours I have dedicated those areas that are problematic, and they will be adjusted,” he said. “We saw some things we could immediately rectify. There are a number of things we can learn from this; we learn every day.”
DiCarlo said every first day of school has “glitches.”
“Many were not sure of their bus numbers going home,” he said. “We will rectify the scheduling of things. The first day itself was great except for the transportation. I don’t want the [transportation] issue to sidetrack from a day that went well. We know the areas we can pinpoint and each day we will see marked improvement.”
DiCarlo said he expects all the bugs to be worked out by the second week of school. He said many of the problems centered on the middle school and high school but said he didn’t think it was because the two buildings are now working on different schedules.
“Arrivals are never going to be perfect, but I don’t think it’s the split schedules that was the root behind it,” he said. “We learned about the flow of dismissals and buses being ready.”
Parent Kristen Morse-Dusovic said she was angry because she was not notified about the severity of the delays.
“We got an automated message from the transportation director and a text stating that all Mahopac buses were running ‘a little late,’” she told Mahopac News. “A little late to me is 15 to 20 minutes. There were no further messages sent out to the community and parents, including me, waited and waited for their children. I personally was outside waiting for 90 minutes. My child arrived home from Fulmar at 5:05 p.m. She got off the bus red-faced, sweating, thirsty, hungry and exhausted. If safety is the No. 1 focus, our children should not have to be subjected to these conditions.”
Morse-Dusovic said she felt let down by the district’s transportation department.
“They had all summer to figure things out regarding the new times for some of the students,” she said. “They failed us. I don’t think anyone blames the drivers. This is an administrative issue. I ended up having to turn to Facebook to get the information on where my child was. Inexcusable.”
Vanessa McKay-Barr said her 5-year old didn’t get home until 5:30 p.m. and Angelina Moretti said her 8-year-old daughter didn’t arrive until 5 p.m.
“I’m 44 and I was home from work before her. One-and-a-half hours late for her isn’t right,” Moretti said.
Maritza Boada said her children described a scene of chaos at the school.
“My daughters were an hour late yesterday and my little one [was late] today,” she said. “My oldest attends the middle school and said it was a mess. The roll call was sent out way too late. My daughters came home all sweaty and hot. There was very little information being sent out to parents. Today, my little one came home an hour later and not even a phone call was sent, just an email. I called transportation yesterday once my girls came home and I have yet to receive a phone call back. This is the second year that the transportation department dropped the ball.”
Here is the email in its entirety sent by DiCarlo to the parents:
Dear Mahopac School families,
We have encountered transportation issues today, and I want to apologize to those of you who were impacted. We realize that a number of you depend on our buses to get your child to and from school safely and on time. Unfortunately, the service we have provided today was inconsistent and unreliable. This is simply unacceptable.
As a community, we expect our students to be a legacy of excellence. However, we must set the example by living up to the standards that you have for us and we have for ourselves. I have spoken with the transportation department, district office administrators and building principals about my expectations, and am working with them to ensure that we rectify any bus issues.
The transportation department is dedicated to ensuring students are safe and set for success when arriving and departing school. Our aim is to rebuild the trust of any families impacted by today’s bus issues.
If you have questions or need clarification about bus stops, routes or assignments, please contact Pam Romeo, transportation supervisor, at 845-628-7447 or Harvey Sotland, assistant superintendent of business, at 845-628-3415, ext. 10410
Superintendent of Schools