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Lindenhurst parents demand answers from district after finding out their children have no bus to school

Dozens of parents in Lindenhurst are scrambling to find ways to get their children to and from school

Rachel Yonkunas

Sep 14, 2022, 10:37 PM

Updated 645 days ago


Dozens of parents in Lindenhurst are scrambling to find ways to get their children to and from school. The Lindenhurst School District recalculated the mileage for transportation eligibility, and it caught many families off guard.
On Aug. 22, Jacqueline Bergeron checked the district's Parent Portal and her child's bus stop was listed as being at the end of their street. It was the same bus stop they had for several years.
However, the following week—just days before the first day of school—Bergeron learned her eighth grade son is no longer eligible for the bus and has to walk to Lindenhurst Middle School.
"Unfortunately, that route is not a very safe route," Bergeron says. "It makes my child go on areas where there are no sidewalks. It has him going on areas where there are no crossing guards and there's been several accidents and other issues that have happened."
The mileage determining bus eligibility never changed, but the way the district calculates that mileage did change.
Last year, the district and bus company audited current eligibility zones and they said it revealed they were bussing kids who lived too close to school.
District policy states that students in grades K-5 are eligible for bus transportation if they live three-quarters of a mile from school. Students in grades 6-8 are eligible if they live one mile from school and grades 9-12 are eligible if they live 1.5 miles from school.
According to the district, distance is measured from the middle of a student's street to the centerline of the curb perpendicular to the nearest entrance to their school. The district uses the main entrance for elementary buildings, the north and south entrances on Wellwood Avenue for the middle school, and the cafeteria and main entrances of the High School.
District officials have not said what prompted the audit and Superintendent Anthony Davidson did not respond to questions about why parents received incorrect information so close to the first day of school. He told parents at a school board meeting that the district had mailed letters to parents last August and again in February. It is unclear how many parents received those letters.
In a statement, Superintendent Davidson said: "Eligibility is based on school policy which must be in alignment with state regulations, as transportation costs are often reimbursable from State aid. Once our policy is set, then we are not at liberty to reduce the required mileage without a voter referendum. Now that the district is aware of the ineligibility of some riders, we could be fined for noncompliance and/or forfeit State aid if we were to continue transporting students despite their ineligibility."
However, Bergeron's school bus stop location has not changed. The bus still picks up students at the corner of her block, which is two houses down. Her son will not be allowed on. Parents like her are hoping the School Board of Education can find a way to fix the issue.
"It is crazy in the morning," Bergeron said of traffic at the middle school. "You have people doing U-turns and parking. There's just no safe way to drop off your kids so whether you're dropping off or walking there, it's definitely a concern for parents that needs to be addressed."
The School Board Policy Committee will be meeting later this month to take another look at the calculations. Board members deferred our questions to the Board President, who did not respond to News 12's requests for comment.
If the policy committee cannot update how measurements are calculated, it will be up to voters in the district to approve changes to distance eligibility. News 12 also reached out to the New York State Education Department, but have not heard back as of 5 p.m.

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