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Bedford School District Puzzles Over Blind Resident’s Conundrum

For Mount Kisco residents Leonard and Marella Richardson, getting their soon-to-be 5-year-old daughter Davia transportation to school has been difficult.
For Mount Kisco residents Leonard and Marella Richardson, getting their soon-to-be 5-year-old daughter Davia transportation to school has been difficult. Photo Credit: Provided

BEDFORD, N.Y. – Usually, for a student who lives a half-mile from school, getting there is simple. For Mount Kisco residents Leonard and Marella Richardson and their soon-to-be 5-year-old daughter Davia, it has been anything but.

Leonard Richardson is blind. Marella Richardson is a teacher in New York City who leaves for work well before her daughter’s school day begins. Their home is less than a half-mile from Mount Kisco Elementary School, but there is no sidewalk for Davia, her father and his guide dog to navigate.

Complicating matters further is that the Bedford Central School District’s transportation policy provides transportation only for students who live more than a half-mile from their school.

The one exception to this policy is if a child lives in an established “child safety zone.” But as determined by New York State, the Richardsons' property does not qualify.

This leaves Davia with no transportation to her first year of kindergarten this fall. The family approached the school district in December to come up with a solution. However, it is April and the district “has yet to provide us with any options.”

After meeting with the Richardsons on Jan. 25, BCSD Director of Pupil Personnel Services Edward Escobar sent the Richardson’s a letter Feb. 20, which stated—in its entirety, “As we continue to explore these options, I will be in touch with you in late April early May regarding your daughter’s transportation.”

However, the Richardsons are concerned that they have yet to be given any sign of any options.

“Mr. Escobar said he’s exploring options but has yet to tell us what those options are,” said Leonard Richardson. “The school year will be coming to a close soon, and it would be unfortunate for my daughter to be registered for school in September and have no means of transportation.”

Escobar said the district is in a tough situation.

“We understand the reason for the request and would like to offer assistance,” he said. “However, consistent with other transportation requests with unique circumstances, we cannot provide transportation within the half-mile limit except where there is child safety zone.”

But Richardson said there is a child safety zone “due to the lack of sidewalks” and his blindness.

Though Escobar sent the family the brief letter in February, Richardson said many of his attempts to be in contact since December have been “unanswered or ignored."

The Richardons additionally received no reply from Superintendent Jere Hochman after sending an in-depth letter explaining their situation. Hochman’s office said Escobar was handling all matters regarding the situation.

“They have told me they’ve never been presented with this problem before,” said Richardson. “I told them, ‘Well—it’s here now.'”

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