Watch CBS News

Plainfield Mother Is Keeping Her Special-Needs Son Home From School, With School Bus Driver Shortage Dragging Out Ride Four Hours

PLAINFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The bus driver shortage has reached critical mass for one southwest suburban school district, which is now offering thousands of dollars to parents to help fill that gap.

But as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Tuesday night, that offer has not been extended to the family of a student with special needs who now sits at home because his bus ride became unbearable.

Routine is essential for 21-year-old Mikey Cataudella.

The Plainfield man has autism, so staying home from his therapeutic day school for the last week has been difficult.

His mom, Lorrie Cataudella, said keeping her nonverbal son home became the only option after his bus ride skyrocketed to four hours a day.

Kozlov: "And this was not acceptable?"

Ms. Cataudella: "Not to me. Not when he spends five hours a day in school."

The reason is that critical shortage of bus drivers in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, which is responsible for Mikey Cataudella's schooling until he turns 22. After weeks of calls and emails with the district, his mother had had enough.

"Instead of attempting to find that middle ground, it was dead silence after that," Ms. Cataudella said.

A District 202 spokesperson told us by phone that he sympathizes with the families impacted by the school bus driver shortage, but they are offering solutions. One is to ask parents to drop their kids off at a central location for pickup to shorten the ride, while the other is offering families $1,000 per semester to drive their children themselves.

Kozlov: "Are either of those options something you'd consider?"

Ms. Cataudella: "I would consider both at this point."

Kozlov: "But they weren't presented to you?"

Ms. Cataudella: "No."

That spokesperson told us the situation is so dire that a staffer even called Gov. JB Pritzker's office asking to be put on a list should he activate National Guard troops to drive buses – something that is being done in states such as Massachusetts.

The governor's spokesperson said that is not an option.

Septran, the bus company that serves the schools, echoes the district's concern.

So even though his bus still pulls up every day, Ms. Cataudella said home is where Mikey stays until there is a solution.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.