Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

After Bus Ordeal, 501 to Transport 3-Year-Old Student

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

After Bus Ordeal, 501 to Transport 3-Year-Old Student

Article excerpt

After the "scary, nerve-racking" series of events related to her 3-year-old son who is deaf never reaching his preschool in suburban Kansas City a week ago, Amanda Hunninghake said she feels a "big weight has lifted" from her shoulders.

"I feel a huge relief," Hunninghake said, describing the decision that Topeka Unified School District 501 will now be responsible for transporting her son, Brody Hunninghake, to and from the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe every day. "I feel 501 has taken more time to sympathize with us."

"It was a decision that was made so we would have control," said Larry Robbins, deputy superintendent for USD 501, who was part of the team of people that met with Amanda and Chris Hunninghake to address the situation with Durham School Services.

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Hunninghake posted a Facebook message on Monday after a day full of anger, fear and frustration, saying that Brody had been on a Durham bus alone with the bus driver several hours without food, water or the chance to use a restroom and no one to be his "voice."

"I'm beyond mad!! This is unacceptable!!" Hunninghake wrote.

Kate Walden, the spokeswoman for Durham School Services, said the bus driver, employed by the private company since 2013, drove Brody and a group of students who are blind first to the Kansas School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan., and then didn't have a correct address for the Kansas School for the Deaf, a 22-mile drive to the south in Olathe.

Walden also said the driver didn't have a charged cellphone and couldn't use the radio communication equipment on bus because the signal wasn't strong enough to reach the Durham office in Topeka.

Robbins said Durham will continue to transport one blind USD 501 student to the Kansas School for the Blind. However, a van driven by a USD 501 activity bus driver, along with a paraprofessional who uses American Sign Language, will transport Brody and a 4-year-old deaf preschool student to the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe from now on.

Billie Zabokrtsky-Wallace, USD 501's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said the arrangement to have Brody and the other student transported by USD 501 will allow for the minutes to be met for the instructional time required in the preschoolers' special education individual education plans, or IEPs. …

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