BEDFORD, N.Y. – Leonard Richardson is a blind Mount Kisco resident who, for several reasons, has struggled finding his 5-year-old daughter Navia a ride to kindergarten next fall .
However, thanks to the school district’s diligent research and a generous offer from the community, she will have a ride to school after all.
Since the Richardson’s live a half-mile from Mount Kisco Elementary, the Bedford Central School District’s transportation policy of only providing transportation for students who live more than a half-mile from their school originally eliminated bus transportation as an option.
Complicating matters further was the fact that there were no sidewalks for Richardson, his guide dog and his daughter to use to safely get to school on foot and his wife, Marella, leaves to teach in New York City well before her husband and daughter wake up.
Initially, the district’s Director of Pupil Personnel Services Edward Escobar had told the Richardsons bus transportation was not an option despite the family’s unique situation. However, Escobar informed the Richardson’s the district would look for creative solutions and get back to them by late April or early May.
Richardson says he was wary of that response, as communication between the two parties had been scarce despite the initial response and additional inquiries had not been returned. However, true to his word, Escobar recently found a solution for the Richardsons and sent the family a letter at the end of April.
“As previously communicated, the district is legally prohibited from providing transportation to school for any child whose home is located within ½ mile of his/her elementary school, unless the home is in a Child Safety Zone,” Escobar stated in the letter.
Escobar noted hat the district re-evaluated the Richardson’s address to verify that it did not meet the requirements to be designated as such a zone. He also mentioned that the district researched the situation with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, the New York State Department of Transportation and other agencies to find a provision in the law, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Luckily for the school district, its own community has found a way around the law to help the Richardsons resolve the situation.
“Community members have come forward to offer their assistance to your family. Two of those members happen to own local bus companies and would be will to work with your family to provide your daughter with transportation for the 2013-14 school year,” Escobar stated.
Richardson told The Daily Voice earlier this week that his daughter will indeed have a ride to her first day of kindergarten.
“She’ll be on that bus,” he said.
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