Chesapeake parents are up in arms as school buses throughout the area are failing their children.
“I just feel like I’m not being heard or acknowledged,” said Galia Farris, a single mom.
Farris claimed her daughter’s school bus has never shown up on time—if it shows up at all—on 16 different occasions this school year.
“It’s probably, on average, once a week, sometimes twice a week,” said another Virginia parent, Michael Lawson. “They just don’t turn down our road and pick our children up.”
According to parents, the problem started in the fall. Sometimes, they had already made it to work before discovering that their kids were left stranded. The 5th-grade girls occasionally had to knock on the neighbors’ doors for rides.
Now, parents have resorted to sticking around and waiting for the bus. If it doesn’t show, they drive the girls to Great Bridge Intermediate.
“We wait in the drop-off line and now it puts me late to work, and it puts her late to school,” Farris said.
For months, she’s contacted school officials. In a November, a transportation coordinator, Richard Morgan, explains “we need many new drivers… as a result, many other drivers are being asked to help with other runs.”
Parents claim the bus frequently has a substitute driver.
Farris said the last problem occurred last week. But according to Kellie Goral, a school spokesperson, the bus in question picked up students and arrived to school on time.
“There was no bus when I left my home at 7:40,” Farris said.
Some schools cancelled classes this past week, while others delayed their start time as crews cleared the snow.
A few parents in Biddeford, Maine, said their children’s bus stop was buried and their kids were forced wait in the road.
Bus stops were nonexistent throughout town. Several students had to stand in the street to wait for their school bus. Since then, though, the city has started clearing out areas for the kids to stand.
One parent said her other daughter had to walk to school in the street because sidewalks hadn’t been cleared.
“No plow had even touched them, let alone the sidewalks next to them,” Deon said, adding that from her observations, the sidewalks outside city buildings were cleared.
Other parents said the city has it backwards, pointing to the numerous school bus stops and the sidewalks that are still buried in five feet of snow.
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Because her mom didn’t think it was safe, Julianna Schmultz had to miss school Tuesday.
“She didn’t feel comfortable for me coming out and having to wait in the road,” she added.
Biddeford Superintendent Jeremy Ray did delay the start of school two hours, to give more time for crews to clear sidewalks and bus stops. He also sent a message to parents Monday night.
“Not all sidewalks and bus stops will be totally cleaned out,” Ray said. “I ask parents to please stand with your children at the bus stop and assist with keeping students safe.”
The City of Biddeford also hired extra manpower Tuesday, to help clear out all the snow piling up.
And with another snowstorm heading our way, parents want to make sure that Biddeford and other communities make clearing these bus stops a priority, especially if they plan to have school that day.
Massachusetts state Sen. Adam Hinds, in response to the death of a student in a school bus accident, has filed a bill that require school buses to be equipped with a sensor to ensure that riders have fully cleared the passenger side door before it closes.
Hinds created the measure at the request of Mohawk Trail Regional School Superintendent Michael Buoniconti following the death of 9-year-old Summer Steele. The door had closed on her and the bus began moving, dragging the third-grader a short distance before striking her.
“There is tremendous energy from voters right now and I intend to translate those priorities into policy,” Hinds said. “We hear very clearly the need to focus on issues ranging from the economy and the environment, to education funding reform, changing state regulations that impact small towns, standing with veterans and more.”
Hinds, who hosted five public forums, including one at the town hall in his native Buckland, added, “I will continue to channel the ideas and feedback I receive from community leaders and constituents into direct action, and my senate team is available to assist those who require help navigating through the bureaucracy of state government.”
Local school boards in Mississippi prohibit students from drinking water on area school buses. The State Legislature has stepped in because it thinks otherwise.
Mississippi lawmakers introduced a bill that passed the state House last week that says students must be allowed to drink water on school buses.
State Rep. Becky Currie filed the bill at the request of a constituent, saying it’s not right for people to put children “on a tin can in 110-degree weather” and tell them they can’t have water.
Taking the debate to the wackiest of extremes, state Rep. John Hines asked obtusely, what would happen if kids filled bottles with vodka instead of water. Currie retorted that would, obviously, be illegal.
House Bill 348 passed the House. It moves to the Senate for more debate.