Anthony and Amanda Rossi attended the Sept. 16 board meeting to address the board about transportation concerns they have, including a different bus driver every day, their children being dropped off …
Anthony and Amanda Rossi attended the Sept. 16 board meeting to address the board about transportation concerns they have, including a different bus driver every day, their children being dropped off at the wrong stops or them being late to school.
“Is the issue at the bus barn resolved,” Amanda Rossi asked. “Because our children have had a different bus driver every day.”
The Rossis said that they were there because their 7-year-old was dropped off at the wrong stop, alone, and the bus driver didn’t question why the child was alone.
“My 7-year-old just got off the bus at the wrong stop, and my 11-year-old yelled at the bus driver,” Amanda Rossi said. “The bus driver said she knew what she did as soon as she did it, but the didn’t check to make sure my 7-year-old got home or if she met up with her older sister.”
Amanda Rossi said she contacted the bus barn at the time of the incident and was told that they spoke with the driver. She wanted to know why, if at the beginning of the year parents signed papers stating that a sibling or adult needed to be with a child who was in second grade or younger, that the 7-year-old was allowed to debark on her own, and not at the right stop.
“I understand it’s the beginning of the year, but my 7-year-old got off the bus, crying, on her way home, because she wasn’t sure if she should have gotten off the bus or stayed,” Amanda Rossi said. “It’s terrifying hearing — my husband calling me to say that my kids were separated getting off the bus.”
Amanda Rossi said every morning the bus either stops down the road or up the road and her children have to run down the street to catch it. Then last week, the bus dropped students off late and her 11-year-old had to bang on the doors of the middle school to be let in.
“We are constantly having problems since school started,” Rossi said. “I understand it is a new year, but if I was aware that my students did not have safe transportation, I would have made arrangements at work to make sure I was there.”
She said her older daughter starts play practice after school this week, and she is terrified that her 7-year-old will be getting off the bus by herself.
“Is there going to be a bus driver making sure that someone is outside waiting for them, or am I going to have to do parent pickup?” she asked. “How would you feel if your 7-year-old got dropped off down the street?”
The couple said the route is 21 and the stop is on Springfield Road.
“That full-time driver is testing tomorrow,” said Transportation Director Gary Pohlmann.
She said it should have been resolved before school started.
“There is a different bus driver in the morning and afternoon every day,” she said. “And then they don’t know where kids get on and off and it doesn’t make me feel safe.”
Pohlmann said every school district is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. While they were trying to hire and train the driver for that route, they had substitute drivers who may have only been available for the route a time or two a week, in the morning or afternoons. They work other jobs. Amanda Rossi suggested they combine stops or notify the parents to make other arrangements.
Anthony Rossi said the problem with the drop-off that his wife was talking about is more than being left down the street.
“We live on Springfield Road and the bus stops in front of our house, two houses down, and three houses down. There are a lot of stops right there,” he said. “Where our 7-year-old got off the bus was not right there, it was not at those stops. It was not a normal stop at all. Not at the stop up the street or in front of our house. She just got off.”
Amanda Rossi said when she called the bus barn, the driver said she knew what the child did as soon as she got off the bus, but didn’t stop to talk to her.
“It’s a pretty crazy world, apparently. I don’t let my 7-year-old play outside by herself without her older sister, who is 11,” Amanda Rossi said. “Yes, it was right around the corner and she knows where we live, but she got freaked out because she wasn’t with her sister and her sister didn’t get off the bus.”
Pohlmann said one situation was that the bus driver forgot to stop.
“There was no forgetting,” Anthony Rossi said. “They just drove right past the stop. I understand what you said. I feel there should be some sort of protocol. They left the 7-year-old off at the wrong stop, went to two more stops, turned around and got off the route, came back to the right stop, dropped my 11-year-old off, then turned around again to continue on the route. I don’t see how that could possibly be the way things should be done.”
Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said that when the protocol isn’t followed, then they have to go back and follow up with how to tighten the protocol.
“That is what Mr. Pohlmann is trying to do as you brought that to his attention,” Garner said.
Amanda Rossi said she did call the bus barn and didn’t get to speak with anyone until the next day.
“They said, ‘well, I talked to her’ (the bus driver),” Amanda Rossi said. “I didn’t get an apology or anything. I was kinda being loud, but I was very upset about it. I didn’t get a response, or an apology or nothing.”
The couple said that is why they were there, because their oldest child won’t be riding the bus in the afternoons for a while.
“Tomorrow my older daughter is not going to be on the bus and I want assurances that my 7-year-old is not going to be randomly dropped off somewhere,” Amanda Rossi said.
“So what happens is tomorrow morning, Mr. Pohlmann with check with the driver of that route and make sure the driver knows what you are talking about,” Garner said.
Pohlmann added that after the new driver was testing Sept. 17, then she will be on the route every day, and hopefully the problems with student drop-off will cease. He asked the family to give him their address so he may meet with the driver and make sure he or she is knowledgeable of the situation