Chesapeake mother fighting for better ride to school for son


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake mother is fighting for a more comfortable ride to school for her son.

Nathan Kirch has attended Plan Bee Academy  for special needs students in Western Branch for the past four years. But the length of the trip isn’t the root of the problem.

His bus always had air conditioning — until last fall. His mother noticed the difference two weeks ago when she said he was on the verge of heat stroke.

“He came off the bus and he was just pale, and his clothes were saturated with sweat,” Christine Kirch said. “I got him cooled down and pushed some fluids on him.”

Plan Bee has a year-round calendar. The school is in session most of June, all of July and all of August.

Nathan’s transportation comes from the Chesapeake School System. The system says the previous bus that had AC had to be reassigned, because it had a chair lift needed by another student.

The district  offered to transport Nathan in a car. His mother says that wouldn’t work for several reasons.

Kirch says buses have video monitoring. “If there’s a questionable event, I can say let’s pull the tape and see what happened.”

She says Nathan, just like many other kids with autism, needs routine and predictability. Any major change can have negative and even physical consequences where he lashes out at others.

Opening the windows isn’t an option either,  because of the possibility that one of the kids could throw something out. His mother says Nathan has actually done that in the past.

Kirch wants to band together with the other affected parents and get some support from the school to keep fighting for an air conditioned bus.

“My biggest fear is that Nathan or one of the other children will get heat exhaustion.”

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