A Staten Island mom says the mayor's Pre-K for all program, really isn't "for all." She says that because of a disability she has, the school that the city assigned to her daughter isn't practical. NY1's Lisa Voyticki has the exclusive story.
Nuala Bonner can't wait to start Pre-K in a few weeks. "Yeah, going to go to school, I am so excited," said the four-year-old.
But her mom, Holly, said Nuala might not be able to go because it would be too hard for her to take her to school.
Holly, who is legally blind, said the city placed her daughter in a school that requires a 16-block walk and a ride on an MTA bus.
"So all total with two children, it'll be over an hour each way. That's four hours of commuting each day to get my daughter to pre-school," said Holly Bonner, who will also need to take her two-year-old daughter along for the walk.
Holly said she also needs to rely on her guide dog Francis to get to the school.
"The dog does not know red from green as far as a light," said Holly. "The dog relies on me, and what I have to do is tell my children to be quiet, and I have to use my hearing and I have to listen."
Holly said she has been hit by a car five times before, so she's worried about the 16-block walk.
We joined Holly for part of the walk and timed it. It took about 13 minutes just to go a few blocks.
"It takes a lot of mental and even physical effort because you're manning the dog and you have two children holding onto you," Holly said.
Holly said she asked education department officials to supply a bus for Nuala, but was told Nuala has to be at least five years old to qualify.
She's also asked the department to reassign Nuala to another school six blocks away, but she has been waitlisted.
Holly said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and State Senator Diane Savino even got involved, but so far no luck.
Nuala already knows what backpack she wants, Holly said, but she's avoiding taking her to the store.
"Are you going to come to my house and explain to my little girl that she can't go to Pre-K, because her mommy is disabled?" Holly said about the education department. "Because that's going to be a really hard conversation."
"We've been in constant contact with the family over the past several months and will continue working with them to find an appropriate placement that meets their needs. There is a free, full-day, high quality Pre-K seat available for every 4-year-old in the City," education department spokesman Michael Aciman told NY1 in a statement.
Holly said it's been three weeks since she heard from the department.
The clock is ticking for a solution: school starts in about a month.