WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Delays and even canceled bus routes are leaving some of D.C.’s most vulnerable students stranded.

That’s according to parents who spoke to DC News Now Tuesday.

“I’m at the window, on the phone, trying to figure out when your bus coming,” said Valencia Roye. “It don’t make no sense.”

Roye said he nearly 9-year-old daughter, who has down syndrome, takes the bus to school every day. That bus is operated by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. But since the start of 2023 there have been issues with buses arriving on time in the morning and returning her daughter home after school.

“That’s mostly my biggest fear that she’s going to be left on the bus, or that she’s going to be left at school,” said Roye.

OSSE transports more than 3,700 students with disabilities to school. And operates more than 530 routes daily.

According to OSSE, staffing shortages have caused the ongoing problem.

In a statement, Press Secretary Fred Lewis said, “We’re facing these challenges because we have a shortage of drivers and attendants this school year, and we have also experienced higher-than-average staff callouts, which impacts timely service for students, depending on the route.”

To address the issue, Lewis said OSSE has had to make “difficult and complex decisions,” including combining routes, adding more children to buses and more. Dropping service is a last resort.

On Tuesday afternoon, the agency reported that two bus routes were cancelled. And 77 routes were delayed.

“There’s no caring to the parents, whether we have jobs or other things to attend to, and so all the sudden was have to change our schedules and plans because of them,” said Roye.

Roye said that on two occasions last week, her daughter’s bus did not come. And on other days the bus was delayed more than an hour, resulting in her daughter missing parts of the school day.

OSSE has offered to reimburse parents who choose to self-transport or use a ride share to get their child to or from school. Parents must fill out a certification and W-9 and submit that to the OSSE.

Still, Roye would like to see more done.

“Communication,” she said. “Put yourself in the parents’ shoes and see how you feel. Not only that, we’re talking about the most vulnerable population in the District.”

Updates on delayed or cancelled routes can be found online at https://osse.dc.gov/page/daily-dot-updates

The agency is also hosting hiring fairs on February 16th and 17th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a $5,000 incentive to any drivers or attendants hired during the fair.