Four Coláiste Íosagáin students were shocked to be told last week that there is no room on the bus for them.
Angry parents from Rath and Ballybrittas who paid the full €350 ticket price to Bus Éireann last spring, received letters telling them they had no seats a week before secondary school resumed.
They are demanding to know how their children were singled out, and angry at the short notice.
Parent Catherine Murphy says she is in limbo, with her daughter Katie starting school yesterday.
“It’s a desperate situation to be in. I have to be in work at the same time and it’s a half hour away. I have two options, keep her at home or give up my job,” she said.
The family even live beside one of the bus pick-up points.
“I would have seen her get on and off the bus,” she said.
She feels the students were not chosen fairly, in what was a lottery system.
“It’s so unfair. My neighbours got seats. One girl was turned down but her brother got a seat. I know the department or Bus Eireann won’t change. I didn’t get my refund yet, they still have my €350 but she has no seat. It has put a cloud over things, she was looking forward to starting, to discriminate against four kids, it’s awful,” Ms Murphy said.
She says she can not switch school at this late stage, as her daughter would be qualify for a bus seat to Monasterevin CS.
“I have spent a fortune on books, and her friends and cousins are in Port, that’s a big thing, the choice of subjects is better too,” she said.
It is the first time that students have been turned down for seats, as goverment rules changed last year to favour only the closest secondary school.
However most Rath NS students traditionally attend Heywood or Coláiste Iosagáin in Portarlington, about 8 miles away,
It meant a lottery system took place this summer, with 20 students guaranteed a ticket, but 27 more applying for 23 bus seats.
Cllr Tom Mulhall is asking for clarity on bus sizes from the Department of Education and Bus Éireann.
“This is discrimination. There could be a bigger bus put on. All these children went to school and grew up together, and want to go to secondary on the same bus. Parents are very annoyed that their child was left out. Many parents are working, this is a huge inconvenience to them, they are paying for a service they are not getting,” he said.
Bue Éireann were unavailable for comment.