Almost two dozen City Council members sent a letter to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza last week demanding to know why the Education Department failed to meet legal deadlines for providing GPS tracking information for city school buses to parents, The Daily News has learned.
The letter, authored by Council Members Robert Holden (D–Queens) and Ben Kallos (D–Manhattan), and signed by 20 other council members, questioned why the Education Department didn’t comply with a January law requiring the agency to make real-time GPS tracking available to parents starting this past September.
“We...demand that the DOE explain its error and abide by the law immediately for the sake of our students and parents,” the lawmakers said in the note sent Friday.
Lawmakers passed a bill in February to shore up city school bus service after frequent delays and missing school buses last year. The law required that the city make real-time GPS data available to “authorized parents or guardians” starting at the beginning of this school year.
Department officials announced a collaboration in August with the rideshare app Via that will eventually provide a parent-friendly app for tracking school buses. Officials said they will start piloting that technology in January and roll it out across the city next school year. They promised in the meantime that parents could call a central city hotline to get real-time updates on their kids’ bus locations.
But as The News previously reported, that plan hasn’t worked out, with operators telling families that the GPS devices currently installed on buses weren’t active or that locations weren’t available.
City lawmakers said the Education Department had seven months from the passage of the GPS law to figure out a solution.
Education Department officials said the procurement process for a new contractor usually takes a year, and the agency is working as fast as possible.
“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,” said department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.