PLAINFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A day after a Plainfield mother told CBS 2 she was keeping her special-needs son home from school because a bus driver shortage had stretched the commute time to four hours, the school district emailed her offering solutions.
Mikey Cataudella, 21, has autism, and staying home from his therapeutic day school for the last week has been difficult. His mom, Lorrie Cataudella, said keeping her nonverbal son home became the only option after his bus ride skyrocketed to four hours a day.READ MORE: Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputy Shoots Chicago Homicide Suspect At Bristol Gas Station; Suspect Shot Police K-9 During Confrontation
The reason is that critical shortage of bus drivers in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, which is responsible for Mikey Cataudella’s schooling until he turns 22.
Ms. Cataudella reported that she had repeatedly made calls to the school district, but “instead of attempting to find that middle ground, it was dead silence after that.”
But that changed Wednesday morning after CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov’s report aired the night before. School District Assistant Supt. for Student Services District 202 Mina Griffith sent Ms. Cataudella an email apologizing for the school transportation issues.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Sprinkles And Cooler Than Normal Temps Through The Weekend
Griffith wrote that the district had sent Connect Ed messages to all families that needed special transportation, but it had come to her attention that the Cataudellas never got the messages. Griffith told Cataudella that the district was working with its tech team to fix the issue.
On Tuesday, a District 202 spokesperson said solutions were available – one being to ask parents to drop their kids off at a central location for pickup to shorten the ride, the other being to offer families $1,000 per semester to drive their children themselves. But Ms. Cataudella said she had not been presented with those options.
On Wednesday, she was. Griffith invited her to complete the forms for the Parent Transportation Reimbursement Program – under which she would be reimbursed if she would provide transportation for Mikey for the first semester or even the full school year.
A school district spokesperson had earlier told us the situation is so dire that a staffer even called Gov. JB Pritzker’s office asking to be put on a list should he activate National Guard troops to drive buses – something that is being done in states such as Massachusetts.MORE NEWS: City Council Finance Committee Approves $76.5 Million Property Tax Hike, As Mayor Lori Lightfoot's 2022 Budget Plan Passes First Test
The governor’s spokesperson said that is not an option.