Has anyone fought the BUSD bus department?

Hi, I'm seeking advice from anyone who has had success in getting the BUSD transportation to department to make reasonable exceptions to their policies. They seem to be extremely rigid and there's no framework for getting help. We've asked our school principal if she can step in. What else can we do?

Our situation for anyone curious: Two summers ago we moved to Berkeley and lived in the "central" school zone, and our 2nd grader was assigned to Oxford. In the middle of last year, we moved out of the central zone (we had been renting and managed to buy a house), but we wanted him to be able to finish elementary school at Oxford, especially considering that his schooling was interrupted first by Covid and then by a cross-country move. We really wanted to minimize disruptions for him. We kept taking him to his same bus stop for the remainder of last year, which is significantly closer to our house than the Oxford campus.

THIS year, we have a kindergartener, and, since he has six years of elementary school ahead of him, we enrolled him in a school closer to our house, Thousand Oaks (our second choice in the lottery, after Ruth Acty). So now we have two kids who need to go to separate schools within the same 10 minute window.

For the first couple months of this year, the older kid kept taking his same bus and all was well. However, the transportation department is now saying that he cannot take the bus because he lives outside of the central zone, which means that we need to transport our kid clear across town. This stinks, but it's doable as long as both parents are available in the morning. However, it sometimes happens that only one of us is available in the morning, which means that one parent has to magically be at Oxford and TO within the the same 10 minute window (not possible).

To add insult to injury, there is a bus stop almost right in front of our house that takes kids to Thousand Oaks on the way to Ruth Acty, but we are not eligible to use it because we are within the technical walking distance to Thousand Oaks. There is plenty of room on this bus. It would be no hardship whatsoever for them to allow my kid onto this bus.

I know that in some ways this is a situation of our own making, since we decided to have our kids at two different schools. However, I think it would be reasonable for the transportation department to help us out. And, more broadly, I think they should be looking to maximize the number of kids using the bus, rather than excluding kids when there is room for them.

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I dealt with a very similar situation a few years ago, however I was trying to help out a friend. I went to a member of the school board's weekend office hours to ask about the policy, and was told very sympathetically that this is the official policy, and yes the transportation department is very rigid. I was told by the school board member that the next step would be to file an official complaint. My friend didn't want to file a complaint, so we stopped there. I would highly encourage you to file a complaint though. It's absolutely infuriating to be told that a family that needs help with transportation cannot have it when the bus is more than half empty. I think there would need to be more parent advocacy to have any effect on the policy.

Best of luck.

I feel your frustration. We are in a very similar predicament. Transportation was wildly unhelpful and our principal says she has no capacity to wager on transportation decisions. She offered carpooling as an option and to put us un contact with the PTA to arrange that. However that won’t work for us. I’m also interested in seeing if others have been successful with fighting these rigid rules. The bus our son would take is also not full. 

Just commiserating - I briefly interacted twice (once by email, once by phone) with the BUSD transportation department and was struck both times how incredibly short and unhelpful they were. Engaging your principal seems like the best route forward. Good luck!