A furious mum has slammed the council after learning her daughter will have to walk almost six miles to and from school after she was denied a bus pass.
Charlene Anderson, who lives in Douglas, was given just one day’s notice that her daughter Nicole was not eligible for free transport to St Paul’s RC Academy, where she starts today.
Dundee City Council has calculated that Nicole lives 2.87 miles from the school. As she doesn’t receive free school meals, she isn’t eligible for a bus pass.
As the family didn’t receive a letter from the council with the decision until yesterday, they were left scrambling to ensure everything went smoothly for Nicole’s first day today.
Charlene said: “I filled in the form as soon as Nicole brought it home from primary school and sent it back to the education department.
“To not receive a response from the council until the day before the school term starts is ridiculous.”
A letter seen by the Evening Telegraph says that children are eligible for a council-funded bus pass if they live three miles or more away from the school.
Children who are in receipt of free school meals only need to live two miles away to qualify.
Charlene says: “At this point I’m going to have to borrow money to cover the cost of a bus pass as I don’t get paid until next week.
“If the council had given us more notice I would have been able to plan for this to not have had as big an impact on the family finances.”
Charlene is also worried that the only long-term option will be for Nicole to walk more than five and a half miles to and from school each day.
She said: “The cost of a bus pass along with school meals is £60 per month. When you add this on to the cost of breakfast club for my son and his school meals it all adds up.
“I can’t really afford this on a long-term basis.”
Charlene says she and her partner don’t feel comfortable sending Nicole to the school if she will have to make the journey on foot.
“I don’t want to send her to the school if she can’t use the bus. I would be worried about her safety.
“We’ll be heading into winter soon and I don’t feel it’s safe for her to make the journey during the dark mornings and evenings.”
She added: “To ask a child to walk that far is unfair.
“Nicole would need to leave the house at 7.30am to make it to school on time.
“I would be concerned that she would arrive at school tired and unable to engage properly in her lessons.
“There is a bus that serves St Paul’s specifically from Douglas.
“My brother lives two bus stops further along the route of the bus and my niece gets a pass. It isn’t fair.”
Charlene says the family have been frustrated further because there is no other school closer to her home that can provide her child with an education aligned to their religious beliefs.
A council spokeswoman said: “Bus passes may be provided to pupils who meet the following criteria – the pupil’s home address must be three or more miles from their catchment school or if the child is in receipt of free school meals, the pupil’s home address must be more than two miles from their catchment school.
“If more information is required or if any pupil’s circumstances have changed, we would advise them to contact the council directly.”