Sussex 12-year-old Jessica Berger must walk almost 2 miles to elementary school

Jessica Berger, 12, has her clothes all picked

Jessica Berger, 12, has her clothes all picked out for the first day of seventh grade. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

SUSSEX COUNTY - A North Jersey girl says she doesn't know how she'll get to school when class resumes Wednesday.

Jessica Berger, 12, has her clothes all picked out for the first day of seventh grade. The problem is, her mother doesn't have a car and the district says she doesn't qualify for bus service because they live too close to school.

"I have asked the school about this since 2011," says her mother, Teresa Nussbaum. "And they say the same thing: there is nothing anybody can do." 

Jessica attends Franklin Elementary, which is 1.8 miles away. If she walked, her mother says she'd have to navigate busy roads and highways.

She says the thought of that walk scares her. "Once the snow started, I would have to walk in the road," Jessica says. "So I might get hit or something." 

The school superintendent says elementary students have to live more than two miles from the school in order to qualify for bussing. 

News 12 New Jersey drove the distance, and calculated the distance at 2.1 miles. The superintendent says the distance between the school and a student's house is measured based on a path a pedestrian would take, not a car. 

The district calculated the distance to Jessica's house using another road, which is closed to traffic. That cuts the distance by a quarter mile, meaning Jessica's house just misses qualifying for a school bus.

Nussbaum says she is frustrated, and is scrambling to find someone to drive her daughter to school. She says she'll continue pleading with the district for help. 

Some New Jersey schools provide courtesy buses for any student who wants it at an additional cost, but Franklin Elementary does not offer that service.

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