Only a couple of months ago, it was the first time that some students of Furqaan Academy enjoyed the privilege of riding a public bus to and from school – services that the school had been fighting for since the past 4 years. According to Dave Richard, the Transportation Director for the district of Bolingbrook, Furqaan Academy was “the first private school to apply for free school bus services since 1960.” Furqaan Academy is also the only school in which Hifdh students benefit from public school bus services. Furqaan Academy has since then been helping other Islamic schools, like the Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN), to apply and establish a free public bus line for their school.
Being a private school, the mere idea of using public buses seemed impossible just a few years ago for Furqaan Academy. A turn of events was brought on when the Administrative staff noticed public buses that went in and out of the neighboring Catholic school. Upon seeing this, they decided to give the district a call to inquire and were quickly rebuffed. They were told what we all had come to believe, that public school buses were not provided to private schools. But that did not stop them, with some help and persistence, the school was able to collect information to help them attain these services as a private school. That information was the key to the bus services the school has been enjoying since the beginning of the 2015 school year. The President of Al-Furqaan Foundation, the parent organization of Furqaan Academy, Mr. Wajahat Sayeed, expressed his gratitude to both the district of Bolingbrook and the Mayor, saying “the district of Bolingbrook has been cooperative of the efforts of Furqaan Academy. Along with the district, the school would like to thank Mayor Roger Claar for his support.”
Approximately thirty students are able to take advantage of the free bus services. These services are currently only available to residents of Valley View District 365U and have greatly benefitted both the school and students.
Hafidah Rasha and Hafidh Asad, siblings that attend Furqaan Academy high school, have been attending private school all their lives. This was the first time the siblings took a bus to and from school. “It’s nice getting to school on time and I like having my own seat on the bus,” says Rasha. “I like that I can get my sleep in and hang out with my friends,” exclaimed Asad. Soha from 2nd grade has ridden on buses before, when asked what she likes most about getting to ride the bus to and from Furqaan, she replied “I like starting on my homework the most,” showing me the books in her arms.
It is convenient for the parents, who no longer have to make trips to pick up and drop off their children. The school has found that the bus services help cut down on tardiness and absences as well. Given that the benefits are vast, the Principal of Furqaan Academy was generous enough to advise the Principals of other private Islamic schools in the Chicagoland Area. “I made an announcement at the Inter-Islamic Conference to every Islamic school that with the help of the district we were able to attain free public school bus services. I wanted to inform the schools that this is a right that they can have. They were very excited to hear this news. Let’s just say that the room became very animated after my announcement,” says Mrs. Bousamaha, the Principal of Furqaan Academy. Following the actions of Furqaan Academy, other Islamic schools have taken the initiative of signing up for public school bus services in their districts as well. The Islamic Center of Naperville personally contacted Furqaan Academy for guidance before approaching their district and with the help of Furqaan Academy they were provided with free public buses within five days.
Furqaan Academy continues to look ahead and is working hard to acquire more benefits for the school in the near future. “Our goal for the following year is to expand public school bus services for the students residing in Naperville, Romeoville and Plainfield,” says the Administrator for Al-Furqaan Foundation, “we are also working on providing buses for students who attend after school programs and club activities,” since those services are not currently available to students who choose to stay after school. “We will work more for the future of this school, we have a lot of faith that we will be able to create a better environment for the children” says the Principal.