Parents in Gilroy file civil rights complaints to keep students from being bussed to San Jose

Some parents in Gilroy say they’re being forced to send their children to schools in San Jose. The parents say a school in Gilroy specifically designed for disabled children is now being used for other students.

Many of the parents say their children aren’t capable of riding a bus for nearly an hour to get from Gilroy to San Jose. So, they’re asking the district to allow them to stay in a school close to home.

"She’s diagnosed with autism, still in diapers, so for her to be sitting down in a car longer than 45 minutes, that means that she’s going to get peed, soiled, anything could happen," said parent Claudia Duran. 

Some parents say they’re frustrated with Gateway School in Gilroy and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. As of March this year, they say their children can no longer attend Gateway, a school they say was specifically designated for students with disabilities.   

"Middle Schoolers, junior high and high school students can no longer be on that campus because they are sharing it with Glen View (Elementary), that the campus backs up to. But for 40-something years, Gateway operated as its own campus," said Michelle Garza Rivera, whose son Christopher spent over a decade at Gateway School.   

Rivera and other parents say they'll have no choice but to bus their severely disabled children for an hour each way, from Gilroy to San Jose or keep them home.

"I want them together, I want them back at Gateway. Gateway has a therapeutic pool, Gateway has extra-large doors for the wheelchairs, for their walkers," Garza Rivera said. 

"I’ve asked the County to give me options and pretty much, the only options they gave me are two in San Jose and one here in Gilroy. I checked out the one at Gilroy High School, and I’m not saying yes to it just yet because there’s little things that need to be changed and modified," said Faviola Batas. 

Ana Mendoza is a parent advocate with CARAS agency in Gilroy. The agency says they’ve filed civil rights complaints with Santa Clara County and the California Dept. of Education this month.

"Fatima is a child who goes to Gateway. She had spinal surgery. So they expect her to sit three hours, in a car, all the way to Martin Murphy, or to be on the school bus. That’s not fair," Mendoza said. 

KTVU reached out to Gilroy Unified School District, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and they released the following statements:   

"The Gilroy Unified School District works closely with the Santa Clara County Office of Education to ensure the appropriate placement of our students. The Gilroy Unified School District will not provide comment on individual student programming or placement." - Gilroy Unified School District

"The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) special education programs are an extension of a school district’s continuum of placement options under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The sending school district is the local educational agency (LEA) responsible for all placement decisions, while SCCOE is responsible only for implementation of the school district’s offered placement. The continuum of placement options includes facilities throughout the county representing the school districts in which the students reside." - Santa Clara County Office of Education