Apex mom: 4 hours on school bus 'too much' for special needs child

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Tara Deane says her special-needs daughter faces two-hour bus rides to school.

The 30-minute car ride from Apex to Raleigh is becoming a daunting morning routine for Tara Deane, a mother of four trying to get her 4-year-old with special needs to and from Frankie Lemmon School each day.

It is not ideal for her husband either. The commute is cutting into time at work.

But Deane says it's better for their daughter Eliana who is spending hours each day strapped into a van provided by the school district.

"Right now, they have her in a cab that's two hours each way. So, knowing with her special needs she has severe non-verbal autism, she has albinism, she's legally blind, and she has sensory issues, it's just too much of a ride," she said.

Eliana, 4, is a special-needs student who faces four hours on a bus each day to school and back.

Deane tried to get the route times to the school where her daughter is assigned adjusted but got nowhere.

"There's either no response or little response, voicemails. You need to contact this person, you need to contact this person, kind of passing of the buck, and I don't feel like anybody's taking responsibility," she said.

AA&D Transportation, Inc. is one of several companies contracted by Wake County Schools to transport students with special needs.

The owner agreed Eliana's ride times each day are too long, about 3 hours per day according to records, and told ABC11 the company is working to tweak routes.

AA&D transports more than 600 students to WCPSS schools, a number that is growing daily, and said shortening ride times is difficult.

"I personally asked the supervisor as well as the driver, 'If this were your child would you be happy with the situation?' and both of them said no, that they'd be frustrated," Deane said.

WCPSS told ABC11 though ride times are often longer at the beginning of the school year, there is no law that sets a maximum transportation time for students with special needs.

According to the district's policy, any student who attends a school other than their base school can expect rides of up to 1 hour and 45 minutes each way.

"We do our best to send students to the most proximate school that can serve the needs outlined in their Individualized Education Program, or IEP. This can be challenging in the case of students who require specialized services provided by one of our six developmental day centers," said WCPSS spokesperson Matt Dees.

Deane is now in a stalling pattern.

"They wouldn't want it for their child and I'm not going to accept it for my child," she said. "We just want it to be fixed."

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educationspecial needs childreneducationwake county schoolsschool busApexRaleigh
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