A second open letter from the AFY Parent and Bayview Parent Community
Sept. 19, 2022
Hello Mr. Hannon, Mr. Wayne,
I have emailed you several times this week and left multiple messages in your voicemail requesting information about the transportation situation at Alice Fong Yu. Principal Liana Szeto, the transportation department, and you have refused and delayed service for my child. When I applied to receive busing for my child, I requested this service with the assumption that she would receive it starting Aug. 17, which was the first day of school.
On Aug. 24, we met via Zoom to discuss my request for transportation services. While at this meeting I expressed to you my concerns about putting my child on public transportation and my need for her to ride the school bus. The issue of whether my child would be able to ride the bus remained unresolved and thus I requested another meeting.
The following meeting took place on Aug. 31, where after little discussion of what was going to be done to accommodate my child I requested to see ridership records from the transportation department about the bus route to and from Alice Fong Yu. Along with ridership records, I asked about the capacity of a school bus.
In both instances, the school and transportation services refused to share this information with my family. Yet, you and Ms. Szeto insisted that the bus was at full capacity and that there was no space for my child to ride the bus. Because I was not convinced that the bus was at capacity nor was I convinced that the school was making an effort to find my child a space on the bus, I had taken it upon myself to gather more information prior to our meeting.
Not to my surprise, after visiting three different bus stops on two different occasions I was told by the bus driver that the bus had never been at capacity. On both occasions, I counted 30 students which is a third of the capacity a bus can hold. Additionally, the bus driver said there are only about 20 students that ride the bus daily.
The driver also said that one bus stop in the Excelsior was added to the bus route to accommodate one student. Because the transportation department would not tell me what the capacity of a school bus is, I asked the bus driver, to which he said the larger bus holds up to 84 students.
Ms. Szeto knew from the first week of school that the bus was not at capacity and was denying transportation services to my child.
As I mentioned previously, I requested that Ms. Szeto provide me with the daily ridership information from the school. Because my daughters’ older cousins rode the school bus during their time at AFY, I knew they kept their own daily bus log. With one simple review of the school’s bus log, it would have been evident there was space on the bus for my child and Ms. Szeto was well aware of that.
When I requested Ms. Szeto bring the records, she was hesitant and said she could not get that information. Mr. Hannon, you were fully aware that this meeting would be about school bus ridership and you and Ms. Szeto were ill prepared.
Due to the fact that no one was making an attempt to provide me with information, I provided Ms. Szeto, Ms. Rico and you the phone number to the transportation department. I informed you all that if Ms. Szeto “could not” locate the school’s data, we could contact transportation and they could request ridership information in real time.
While at the meeting, you and Ms. Szeto both said you did not have the time to call. I refused to leave the meeting without getting ridership information and Ms. Szeto was still unwilling to provide any information. After continuously demanding the data, Ms. Szeto and Ms. Rico left to calculate the daily ridership for AFY.
After reviewing the data for the next five days, they were able to identify that only 30-35 students ride the bus on a daily basis. After finally having tangible numbers that proved there were seats available, you stated that you would follow up within two days to provide me with information about when my child could begin to board the bus.
Despite the fact that the school’s data – and my own data that I gathered due to the school’s negligence – showed that the bus clearly had enough space, I was still forced to wait for an answer about whether my daughter could board the bus. Ms. Szeto knew from the first week of school that the bus was not at capacity and was denying transportation services to my child.
Mr. Hannon, on Friday, Sept. 9, I received an email from you stating that my child would be able to ride the school bus starting Monday, Sept. 19, but only for the 2022-23 school year. It took 11 days after our second meeting before you allowed my child to ride the school bus – your reasoning being that my child needed a bus card in order for her to use the bus service.
Claiming that my child could not board the bus because of a logistical issue is a sorry excuse. It makes me wonder whether you would enforce such practices if a student forgot their lunch card, would you deny them access to food?
The start of this school year has been very stressful for my family, especially for my child. We have endured significant hardship due to the school district’s negligent behaviors. While my daughter has finally been given access to bus services for this school year, this is still an unresolved issue for the Bayview community.
We as a family and as part of the Bayview community have fought this battle relentlessly. It is clear that you, Ms. Szeto, and the transportation department are invested in creating obstacles for Bayview families.
All of you are responsible for upholding a system that does not have our kids’ needs and interests in mind; but more importantly, your participation in intentionally preventing my child from riding the bus make it clear to me that AFY’s social justice commitment is performative as is the school district’s.
AFY Parent and Bayview Parent Community