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A group of 24 City Council members demanded an explanation from the Department of Education (DOE) about its failure to follow a legal mandate to equip every yellow school bus with a GPS device by the first day of school.

Councilmen Robert Holden and Ben Kallos wrote a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza following up on a law that the Council passed in January that would allow parents to use an app for tracking their children.

“We the undersigned demand that the DOE explain its error and abide by the law immediately for the sake of our students and parents,” read the letter.

In August, THE CITY reported that the DOE hadn’t awarded a contract to distribute the devices on buses. The letter references an email exchange between Holden’s staff and the DOE on Oct. 28, where the DOE spokesperson said that the technology “will start getting on some of our buses this winter with full fleet operations by start of school next year.” 

The letter points out that the tracking device law was adopted in February and gave the administration seven months before the beginning of the school year to plan accordingly. Technically the DOE’s lag on the execution of the plan is against the law, it concludes.

The DOE has struggled with implementing a system to track school buses before. A report by the Special Commissioner of Investigations in September found that the DOE spent nearly $9 million on a bus-tracking devices sold by Teletrac Navman, which the majority of bus drivers failed to log into.

According to THE CITY, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has been firm since shortly after the bill was passed that he may need more time. The Chancellor said in a DOE budget hearing at the City Council in March that he was prioritizing getting the GPS system “right” rather than meeting the deadline. 

“As soon as the bill was enacted we began the procurement process, and are working to provide parents with access to busing information in an efficient and effective way by the start of next school year,” department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot told the Daily News.

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