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Posted September 18, 2012 | comments 11 Comments

Parents go public with school bus complaints

By Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

Parents of some Shenandoah County Public Schools' students are protesting conditions on their children's buses.

Mt. Jackson resident Brandi Dysart started a Facebook page called "Change for Shenandoah County School Transportation" after realizing some students were having to stand in the aisle, and others were hanging over the seats into the aisle.

The Facebook group had more than 300 members as of Tuesday afternoon.

Dysart has four children, two of whom are in school. She has a third-grader at Ashby Lee Elementary and a sixth-grade student at North Fork Middle School. She said her children had been sharing bus stories for a couple years, but she thought they'd been exaggerating.

"As a parent, you're like, 'Just ride the bus, it can't be that bad,'" Dysart said.

But, when they told her some kids were standing up on the bus because there weren't enough seats, "it's kind of upsetting," she said.

Dysart said she has been in frequent communication with the schools' transportation supervisor Martin Quigley.

"He told me they only stood the first week of school, and now they all have a seat," she said. "I think the public in general would be outraged that children are standing on the buses. There are no federal regulations as to how many children can sit on the bus."

Besides the Facebook page, Dysart said she is hoping to get parents together to address the school board at its Oct. 11 meeting.

In a letter to the editor of the Daily earlier this week, Dysart also pointed out children have gotten bigger in recent years, and often carry heavy school bags as well as instruments on the buses.

Another concerned mom, Sherri Braithwaite of Quicksburg, has taken to driving her children to school herself. She also has a third-grader at Ashby Lee and a sixth-grader at North Fork.

"I can drive my children, but it's not about that," Braithwaite said Tuesday. "A lot of parents aren't able to drive their children and pick them up."

Besides children standing up, she has been told there are three or four children per seat in some cases.

"We've had reports from parents of children as young as 5 years old who were told to stand up on the school bus," she said.

Braithwaite also said she's considered having her children ride the bus so they can photograph the traveling conditions.

In addition to the potential danger to standing children if the bus has to slam on the brakes or is in an accident, Braithwaite said she worries about what would happen if the bus needs to be quickly evacuated.

"Something like that's going to take twice as long," she said.

Calls to Quigley and Superintendent Keith Rowland weren't immediately returned on Tuesday.

11 Comments | Leave a comment

    I realize its been many years since I rode a school bus, but in the 60's and early 70's we always had students standing up in the aisles of buses. We didn't have as many buses then. I would think parents would be more upset over the fact that there aren't seat belts on the buses than the kids standing.

    deb the issue with children standing is it's unsafe if you go to the school website they write that children are safe because of compartmentalization and in order for that to work they all need to be seated with in that compartment. Also if this county doesn't want to spend enough money to have the number of buses for children to sit how do we expect them to have money to put seat belts in and have them used by all children the ones that are standing or sitting on the floor would not have a seat belt.
    here is the link to the school website--http://www.nvdaily.com/news/2012/09/parents-go-public-with-school-bus-complaints.php
    look at question 11

      Yes, it is true that children in the aisle, or sitting sideways and backward in to the aisle is unsafe. Comparmentalization simply does not work well when not sitting forward inside the seat, body parts out of the aisle, stuff in lap or under seat, keeping calm conversations within own area so as not to be turning sideways and backwards are all safety standards ignored on too many school buses. Thousands of unecesary injuries happen every year, including during the normal operation of the bus from children not following the bus driver's directions. The scene can also make the bus appear to be overcrowded when it is improper sitting and failure to rearrange causing the problem. Regardless, up to 11 states allow riders to stand in the bus aisle overcapacity school buses moving down the road. Seat belts on the buses would end this unsafe practice.

    The main concern I as a parent as well as many other parents is safety. It is dangerous to have 3 and 4 children packed into a bus seat for hr long busrides and extremely dangerous to have children standing on the school bus. If the bus should for some reason have to hit the brakes suddenly children that are standing will get hurt. And children packed that closely in seats will get injured if a bus is in an accident. Not to mention that fact that it would take twice as long to exit the bus in an emergency. Parents that do not understand the issue please visit the facebook page Change for Shenandoah County School Transportation. We need to make a change before children get hurt. And I agree it would be wonderful to have seatbelts on buses if that would be possible. However I am more concerned at this point about making sure our children have a comfortable and safe way to travel to and from school. Children are being told to stand and even sit on eachothers laps on the bus. This is absolutely ridiculous.

    Unfortunately our childrens safety and education have taken a "backseat" in this county. Funding unneccessary projects and wasting money seems to be the goal of our elected officials. There are a lot of things that go on in our county school system that needs to be addressed. What about the teachers who suddenly disappear (terminated ) for misconduct within the classroom. What kind of example are they setting for our children and who monitors their conduct? If the horror stories that I have heard from other parents were public knowledge and printed in the newspaper for the whole county to read there would be changes made. I applaud the mothers who were mentioned in the above story as others need to speak out so that changes are made. We as parents and taxpayers should DEMAND certain standards for our children.

    Children shouldn't be standing up on the bus, it definitely creates a safety hazard. Seatbelts won't be put on the bus because in the event of an accident, it would take forever to rescue 40+ kids if they're all in seatbelts, potentially making the situation worse.
    In the same respect, if more buses are desired, someone has to pay for those. It would likely be with increased taxes, and then people would complain about that as well.

    I believe we as a county have the money to provide this if the county made it a priority I just believe the county would rather put it's money into other places than in our children

    I think I would be driving my children to school if this were the case.

    Well a lot have look at the traffic in the morning around the campuses ,but not all parents have that as an option and change is needed three to a seat may be permitted, but if all three do not fit on the seat is it really safe?

    The assistant superintendent says none of their buses are overcrowded, and so far have not seen video to support the parents claims. Some footage in another TV station's news video showed kids sitting improperly into the aisle, one child's legs appeared faced backward into the aisle. Is some overcrowding due to children not following directions - sitting forward, stuff in lap or under seat, keeping conversations in own area? (I do not know, not there.) Up to 11 states allow riders to stand in the bus aisle, most states agree not a safe practice. If the buses are actually overcrowded and regardless of so-called seating capacity would like to see some video that reflects that, odd that kids have no cell phone pictures and videos by now. May be the case that parents want two to a seat, yet it is possible in most cases and an industry standard to rearrange for adequate seating with up to three per seat sitting forward, out of the aisle, but does require support from parents informing their children to follow directions and otherwise corporate, or removal from the bus children refusing to follow directions.

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