By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Coming off last year’s pandemic school experience, 6-year-old Amaya Feliciano was extra excited to start first grade at the Condon School in South Boston Thursday. “We got there maybe about a half an hour early for the bus, and ended up waiting maybe an hour and a half extra for the bus,” said her mother, Miriam Feliciano.

She had higher hopes for the school bus on the second day, Friday. But the bus driver gave the single working mom some surprising news. “They were half an hour late as well today, and when he came, he told me that ‘BPS told me that we can’t take your child on the bus,'” she said. “I had to then text my boss and tell him I’m going to be late.”

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Amaya wasn’t allowed on the bus because there was no bus monitor on board. It’s a job position that’s had the district posting help-wanted messages for days, and something required for little Amaya, because she has epilepsy. “She can fall down the stairs if she’s getting off the bus, so there has to be somebody mandatory on there. I would have been OK had they just shot me a text or emailed,” said her mom.

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Boston Public Schools sent WBZ a statement. “We will continue to work to improve this critical service to our families through active hiring for open positions, including bus monitors…”

“What about parents that don’t have the option with vehicles? What if they don’t have transportation,” said Feliciano. “How are they getting them to school? They’re not!”

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School officials have been sounding the alarm over a bus driver shortage, in the midst of tense negotiations with the Boston School Bus Drivers Union. A BPS spokesperson says on-time bus service jumped to 81% Friday from 57% on the first day of school.

Christina Hager