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Barrie family wins 4-month battle for son's school bus service to be reinstated


Families of children with special needs living within the Simcoe County District School Board's (SCDSB) walking distance zone are fighting to have school transportation reinstated after cuts earlier this year.

For one Barrie couple, the four-month battle to have their son bussed to school again has come to a successful end.

"We heard this morning that they had just given our son his ride back," Allison Fleet said.

The board recently changed transportation options for some students with special needs living within walking zones of schools as part of its annual transportation review - 1.6 kilometres for elementary students and double that for secondary students.

"We were lucky enough to get ours back, but there are many other kids out there and parents who don't have a voice," said Jason Ladouceur.

Last month, Fleet and Ladouceur told CTV News they were struggling to get their eight-year-old son, Carson, to school every day since the changes.

"Getting the kids to school for both of my children has been extremely difficult, and I can't be happier," Fleet said.

The board's decision left many parents of students with special needs seeking alternate options, including Susan Moore's son, Tim, who is in his final year at Innisdale Secondary School in Barrie.

"They're talking points seem to be more focused on kids with physical disabilities and anyone with an intellectual disability. They're more concerned that these kids should just try to be more independent," Moore said.

Since being denied school van transportation following appeals to the board, Tim has been offered a temporary ride with the City of Barrie's specialized Accessible Community Transportation Service as his mother reaches out to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

"The fact that nobody's willing to talk about his safety or what his disability actually is that gives me a lot of concern," Moore noted.

Some other families have been granted six-week extensions while they work out how to get to and from school for the remainder of the year.

The SCDSB acknowledges it has a $2 million transportation deficit but said the money wasn't the motivator in the decision.

The board wrote in an email to CTV News on Monday it could not provide comment on specific individual cases "due to privacy legislation."

SCDSB chairperson Jodi Lloyd said the board continues to follow its policies and protocols, which include an appeals process, and added the system works. Top Stories

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