NEW YORK CITY — The fight to keep school bus services available for thousands of Staten Island seventh- and eighth-graders has taken another turn.
In September, SBF reported that these students would have to find an alternative mode of transportation to school because the state Supreme Court lifted a temporary restraining order that forced the city’s Department of Education (DOE) to keep providing bus service for these students.
However, on Monday, State Supreme Court Justice John Fusco ruled that the city's decision to take away yellow bus service was made "without concern for the welfare and safety of the affected students," according to a story on silive.com.
Fusco’s decision was in response to a lawsuit that Staten Island parents and local elected leaders filed against the city after the school bus variances were taken from nearly 3,000 students across the borough at the start of the school year.
"This court is aware of the painstaking work involved in reaching the decisions that affect the citizens of this city, whether those decisions are received with applause or anger," the ruling reads. "However ... budgetary decisions that affect pupil education cannot be made on assumptions without a factual basis to support those assumptions."
Staten Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio, who led parents and legislators in suing the city over the issue, told the news source that he was thrilled by the ruling. "We're extremely happy that the judge saw it as an act that was made arbitrarily and capriciously and endangered children," Ignizio said. "Our hope is that the new chancellor will take a fresh look at this and not seek to appeal."
However, an appeal may be forthcoming. On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to Fusco’s ruling saying, "We have to balance the budget, and sometimes the judges just don't understand,” according to another story on silive.com.
Moreover, the city’s Department of Education vowed to appeal the decision. The agency reportedly said it needs to eliminate the bus variance for the students to save about $1.7 million.
"This is a relatively small sacrifice compared to the teachers that we would lose. And you can say it's a small amount of money, but it is not a small amount of money to the 20-25 teachers we would have to lay off," Bloomberg said.
In response, Ignizio told the news source, "The mayor continues to have a tin ear when it comes to Staten Island-specific issues.
"This is not a budget issue. No other borough would tolerate this amount of neglect when it comes to public safety. And that's what this is about — public safety."