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Families concerned about how special needs kids are getting to school

Two mother says drivers showed up with no ID
Posted at 8:05 PM, Oct 26, 2017

Some Hillsborough County families say they are uncomfortable with the drivers hired to pick up their special needs children, taking them to and from school.

Hillsborough County Schools hired ALC Transportation to help with transportation of some special needs students several years ago. 

So far, HCPS has paid them more then $1M, according to school district records.

Tracey Cardoso says a driver showed up unannounced to take her daughter to school.

“They didn’t have any type of identification on them or anything on the car,” Cardoso said. “A magnet or anything showing they are from Hillsborough County.”

Sienna, her four-year-old daughter is an E.S.E. student and uses hearing aids. Cardoso says ALC gave them no notice they were showing up that day in what she calls an older-looking minivan with an older car seat.

“I wasn’t going to put her in that vehicle where I didn’t know the driver, I didn’t know their name, I didn’t feel comfort,” Cardoso said.

Tracey says she was also uncomfortable because the two drivers spoke very little english.

Kayla Storey says someone also showed up to get her son in an older van with a driver who also spoke little english. Storey’s five-year-old son Owen is deaf.

“They tried strapping him in the backset without a carseat,” Storey said.

Story said in the few weeks she used the ALC Transportation service she had several different drivers.

Hillsborough County Schools generally have one consistent driver.

“All I requested is that he be in a bus with a safety harness as he was all of last year,” Storey said. “And I brought it all the way up to the superintendent and it was still no.”

160 Hillsborough County students used ALC’s individual drivers to get to and from school and are taken to more than forty school sites. HCPS says they’ve had no other complaints and that ALC is a service districts across the country use to transport students.

But the parents feel like the system failed them.

“I just feel like the kids should be provided a safe way to get to school with one person who is licensed and has identification,” Storey said.

“We have used ALC transportation services for a number of years to transport students who are out of their neighborhood zone to a school with a specific program that meets their needs,” said Tanya Arja, district spokesperson via email. 

The drivers all go through a complete background check through the district, Arja said.

ALC Transportation also says they drug test and background check all drivers, per their contract Hillsborough County schools.

Typically, the company will reach out to families, make introduction between the driver and the family and exchange phone numbers so they can be in direct contact, Arja said.

“We have contacted ALC to rectify the ongoing issues these two families have brought to the district’s attention,” Arja said.

ABC Action News has also contact ALC Transportation in regards to these two families ongoing issues.