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Troubled New Orleans East school cuts bus service for many students

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NEW ORLEANS EAST (WGNO) -- There's more trouble for a failing charter school in New Orleans East.  Miller-McCoy Academy will close its doors at the end of the school year.  But on Monday, the school cut off bus service for many kids.

More than an hour after school let out, some students were still standing out in the cold, waiting to be picked up.  Before, they would have been able to hop on a yellow school bus.  Miller-McCoy Academy says it notified parents before the Mardi Gras break that bus service would be taken away for many students, however, not everyone got the memo.

"No reason.  No letter in the mail.  Nothing.  Just no school buses," says Tyra Young who now has to drop off and pick up her brother from school.

"I'm late right now, going to pick up, and do other things, errands I have to run," says Young.

The school declined to talk to WGNO on camera but explained the buses were halted halfway through the school year to cut costs.  The school's board says it will save them $14,000 a month.

"They allow something like this to happen mid-year? It tells me that something is amiss, something went awry and the kids are going to suffer," says Gina Womack.

Womack is the Executive Director of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children.  She says her organization is concerned the troubled all-boys school will push students out of the school system.

Students on the Westbank, Mid-City, Carrollton and Uptown will still be picked up by a yellow bus.  Those in other areas like New Orleans East, Gentilly, the Lower and Upper Ninth Wards and Central City, will need to use public transportation.

"Tracking the bus route, sometimes it takes an hour and a half if you don't miss a bus, or a bus is on time, or the bus is not full. That means some kids will have to leave their house 5:30 a.m. to get to school and that's ridiculous."

The school's board says it gave 158 students RTA passes so they can catch a bus, but for those who need a ride from home, it'll be an adjustment.

"That's not fair to the kids. They wake up at a certain amount of time expecting a bus ride," says Young.