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DeBlasio, parents, call for end to bus strike

February 5, 2013 2:47:26 PM PST
While striking bus drivers took their demand for job security to the steps of the Department of Education, a group of parents, outside City Hall, called for the school bus strike to end.

"I'm the father of a 14 year old autistic child. This strike has really up-ended our lives," said Joe Williams, a parent.

Parents were led by Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio.

"Bring all the parties to the table and let's start that conversation, let's see if we can find a way forward, but the buses have to roll in the meantime. Our children need to get to school," DeBlasio said.

Special needs children are suffering the most.

Lori Podvesker has been able to get her 10-year-old autistic son to his school, but it's confusing for the boy.

"He doesn't understand why the buses are not showing up every day, he doesn't understand why all of his classmates are not at school," Podvesker said.

"I hear of many parents who are cashing in all their sick days, who are losing pay, and that's if they're getting their kids to school altogether," said Carin Van Der Donk, parent leader.

A spokesperson for the mayor pointed out that the public advocate has publicly acknowledged the need for new bus contracts and said, in a statement, "It's sad that special interest advocate DeBlasio is siding with adults who are using children as pawns. If he wants to help kids, he should persuade the union to return to work."

DeBlasio was just as critical.

"How on earth can the mayor throw up his hands and act like he can't do anything here," DeBlasio said.

Parents and children, caught in the middle, can only hope something works, and soon.

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