Monday, October 16, 2006

School bus plays favorites

Every school day, thousands of students living in the Lawrence district board buses heading to six local public schools and 69 private ones, some as far away as Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

More than half of the 5,921 students who ride the buses attend private schools, said district Superintendent John T. Fitzsimons. State law mandates that districts provide transportation to all students, as long as their schools are within 15 miles from the student's home.

But in a revelation that has roiled the already divided district, it turns out that for years, in violation of district policy, some 300 stops were in front of homes of private school students and that some parents were bribing drivers with gifts and cash. All the while, most public school kids have had to walk to corner stops.

Why that happened isn't clear. Some public school parents said that for years they noticed that when they drove behind a bus, it made many stops on one street. But when they questioned school officials, they were told there were no special house stops.


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