Chittenango: Busing denied

Lisa Levens-Freeman wants the best possible education for her soon-to-be third-grader, Javier. She thinks he can get that at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School. Unfortunately, notice that there would be funds available for Javier to attend the school did not get to Levens-Freeman until April 26, a date that would come back to haunt her.

Opportunity lost?

Levens-Freeman said she has been impressed with the academic performance of SHDS students she has encountered over the past several years.

"Those kids always seemed to be head and shoulders above the other students," Levens-Freeman said.

She said that though she had heard of the school, she never dreamed SHDS would help her family with the tuition.

"I heard it was prohibitively expensive, and I knew we couldn't afford it," she said. "I never thought they would help us out."

Then Levens-Freeman e-mailed SHDS Principal Barbara Davis and told her she would love to get that kind of Jewish education for her 7-year-old but the family was not in a position to shoulder the expense. It is too late, Levens-Freeman said, for her 14-year-old daughter Alissa to benefit, as the school only goes to sixth grade.

Davis told Levens-Freeman she need not worry about paying for tuition. But it was more than three weeks after the April 1 deadline for applications for transportation to private schools.

"She said, 'Transportation might be tricky,'" Levens-Freeman, said, adding that it was the first time she learned of the April 1 deadline.

And she was right.

Appeals processes begin

Levens-Freeman got that e-mail on Saturday.

"Monday, April 28, I called the transportation office to ask to have my child bused to parochial school," Levens-Freeman said. "I was told that April 1 deadline can only bend if the school already goes to the school requested."

According to Levens-Freeman, she was directed to complete the application anyway and plead her case to Transportation Superintendent Al Sgroi.

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