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CBS 2 Gets Action In Outcry Over NYC Special Needs Bus Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The parents of hundreds – and possibly thousands -- of New York City special needs students seem to be caught in school bus chaos.

With their ride coming late or not showing up at all parents are left asking "where's that bus?"

Evan Brown had to leave work and pick his son, Hugo, up at his Manhattan special needs school on Tuesday and then take him home to East Elmhurst, Queens. He sat and waited and then waited some more for his son's bus.

"My wife and I are really angry. Here's the thing: he's a special needs child and he needs his schooling more than most children but to have the bus not be there is for us … our hands are tied," Brown said.

Since school started, Hugo, who is autistic, has either had the bus show up hours late or not at all – and he is not alone. Sources told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer that special needs schools in all five boroughs have had massive bus problems, including no buses, late buses, and long routes with little kids left on buses so long they wet their pants.

"It would be unreasonable to expect a child to sit for two hours. You wouldn't allow parents to put them in a room for two hours strapped to a chair and deny them food, water and bathroom breaks and it's okay for the bus company to do that?" Brown said.

Sofia Shapiro of Riverdale told CBS 2's Kramer that she was told there's a bus shortage.

"I also feel that they need more buses. The school told me that last year they had 14 buses and this year they only have seven," Shapiro said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city's $126 million contract with pre-k bus companies.

"My understanding is they're actually doing a pretty good job," Bloomberg said.

Parent Rafael Correa of Sunnyside, Queens, begged to differ.

"There's a lot of people here picking up their kids because the principal of the school told Kramer there's no buses whatsoever for Queens," Correa said.

And since Kramer started reporting this story there have been major developments. Late Tuesday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott reassigned half the bus contracts for special education and pre-k students to other companies.

Nearly 2,000 kids will get new bus routes, and Hugo Brown is getting a bus, too. Officials said he'll be picked up Wednesday at 7:15 a.m.

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