Action News Troubleshooters: Philadelphia families missing payments for school bus program

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some families that are eligible to use School District of Philadelphia transportation are asking the district to show them the money.

They say they are missing payments they're due from a new pilot program involving transportation.

The "Flat Rate Pilot Program" pays families who opt out of taking the bus this year.

You only get paid, though, when students attend 70% of their school's scheduled in-person days a month.

So while it doesn't affect Philadelphia public school students who are 100-percent virtual, it does affect hundreds of families whose kids attend archdiocesan and independent or private schools in the district.

That includes Bernadette Appiott's daughter, Kimberly, who attends St. Lucy Day School.

"St. Lucy's is a school for children with visual impairments," said Appiott.

In the past, Kimberly has taken a bus provided by the Philadelphia school district, but this year Appiott decided to drive her to school and enroll in the Parent Flat Rate Pilot Program.

"The flat rate program was implemented when we realized that because of the virus that was the pandemic, some parents would not feel comfortable having their children be transported in buses or other transportation services," said Monica Lewis a Philadelphia School District spokesperson.

The program provides a $150 monthly payment per household to parents who opt out of bus, van, or cab assignment.

Parents have to fill out a monthly form for payment.

"And then the school goes in, and they verify her attendance. And then we're supposed to get a check in the mail," added Appiott.

About 2,500 families enrolled in the program but many said they aren't getting payments.

"I think it's crazy. I mean, why you would set up a program like this, and then not pay people?" said Appiott.

The district tells the Troubleshooters payments have been delayed. Checks for the month of September went out in December. They are now working on October payments and they anticipate getting caught up in February.

The district says paperwork is to blame for the initial delay.

"We did transition to a new finance system in the fall that caused a further delay," said Lewis.

The district also says if you have not yet received that first payment, let the district know because it might not have your accurate information on file.
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