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Demanding Answers: Why Can't Parents Use GPS To Track Their Kids On NYC School Buses?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It's a story we've been following for months.

New York City parents remain infuriated over their inability to track their kids on city school buses.

Now they say a backup plan using the bus' GPS system is also experiencing issues.

For Bunny Rivera, waiting for her son's school bus is the most stressful part of the day. 13-year-old Chazz Rivera is on the autism spectrum and Rivera says she was depending on a new phone app to alert her of his location, but it never came.

"No one knows where their child is, and it's terrifying. My child is somewhere in the city he special needs and I have no idea where he is," Rivera told CBS2's Christina Fan.

School bus app
The NYC Council is expected to approve legislation that would provide an app like this one to be used to monitor all school buses. (Photo: CBS2)

Under the law, the DOE was required to install a GPS in every bus and have parents be able to track their child on their phone by the start of the school year. The DOE only fulfilled half of its obligations.

Councilmember Ben Kallos, who spearheaded the legislation, says it's unacceptable.

"Pretty standard technology, and they had to get it done by the first day of school. I'm very disappointed it wasn't done by the first day of school," Kallos said.

Parents say it's not just the fact the app isn't ready. They were told the Office of Pupil Transportation could access the GPS devices right now to get the location on their child. When they call, they say they've been getting no answers.

When Fan brought those questions to the Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza, he told her the trackers were all operational.

"So why are parents saying that when they call in, the people answering don't know?" Fan asked.

"Again, individual cases, we don't know. I can't answer those specific incidents. Again, we have GPS on all the buses and the ability to know where they are," Carranza said.

Rivera says those statements just aren't true.

"A lot of parents are telling me that they've called and they say the tracker is not on that bus," Rivera said.

"The whole point of this is we shouldn't be arguing if there is a GPS on the bus, whether or not it's turned on. It's supposed to be on a phone, on an app. We shouldn't be arguing if the system is working," Kallos said.

The Department of Education says the phone app should be out by the end of the school year.

Until then, parents like Rivera will be forced to stay on hold.

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