OKLAHOMA CITY – A wheelchair-bound teenager is bringing problems with the special needs buses in a local school district to light.
Madridd Brisboe, 15, loves her life at Northwest Classen High School but getting there can be a problem.
When her Oklahoma City Public Schools’ special needs bus arrived at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, her mother, Misty Wainman, watched as the automatic accessibility lift on the bus malfunctioned.
“He started manually trying to crank my daughter up to the bus,” says Wainman. “Halfway up, he heard a pop and he said ‘Oh no! Something broke!’
Madridd was stuck on the lift out in the cold.
It wasn’t until 8:45 a.m. that a second bus with an accessible lift arrived at Madridd’s bus stop.
However, that one also broke.
Wainman says, “I’m like, are you kidding me?”
“It was too cold for me, so I was mad,” says Madridd. “I was angry.”
Over an hour after school had started, her mother and the bus driver had finally lifted Madridd on the bus with their own strength.
But this wasn’t the first time this has happened.
Madridd has been late to school many times because of faulty accessibility lifts.
“I know I’m not the only parent with a disabled child,” says Wainman. “And I know I’m not the only one that has this issue with the buses.”
However, the district’s transportation office says they’ve never received this complaint before.
Officials say “repairs are underway and drivers should not be manually lifting students onto the bus or carrying them on their own.”
Wainman said, “This is not their job!”
Madridd says if being wheelchair-bound wasn’t already hard enough, she now worries every morning whether or not she’s going to make it school on time.
“My disability, it’s hard enough that I have to deal with that,” says Madridd. “On top of that, the buses and everything else. I feel like a bother to others.”
Without the accessibility lifts, the district’s special needs buses are not ADA compliant.
Although the district says they’ve never had this complaint before, Madridd says she talks to her friends in wheelchairs who have experienced the same thing.
She hopes the district is working hard to make sure there are always enough buses with accessible lifts in service so no wheelchair bound students will ever have to miss class.