Local/State

Some parents upset about first day of school problems

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From Raleigh to Durham and points beyond, Monday marked the return to class for many traditional schedule schools in central North Carolina.

In Wake County, there were some late buses and five accidents, but there were none of the widespread issues that plagued the district last year. One of the reasons for that was more buses on the road.

Last year - after trying to save money by cutting buses - Wake had to add 40 or 50 back to the fleet. This year, they started with more - about 950 buses on the road. And while we're told there are enough certified bus drivers who've done dry runs on all the routes. They didn't all show up Monday, and so where there were substitutes, there were some problems like late buses and stops missed.

The district said they are generally happy with the way things went Monday, but it's all relative. About two percent of the students they serve had problems. More than 2,100 calls and emails came in on Monday. Not all of them were bad though. Some were words of support and thanks mixed in with concern and complaints.

"We acknowledge there have been some bumps in the system, but when you're running a system as large, you expect to have some things that may not go exactly according to plan, but I can tell you, as of this evening, we're looking at those very same things," said Wake County Schools spokesperson Renee McCoy.

When John Beimler's daughter did not get off her school bus Monday afternoon, he called the newly designated number for Wake County School bus trouble. However, when he did he got the sound of a busy signal.

"It's what we had the whole time my daughter was missing," said Beimler. "It was 45 minutes. We were trying to find out where she was."

It was the scariest 45 minutes of his life, not knowing where his child was.

"The school said they had the same trouble when they tried calling transportation," said Beimler.

When she finally got home around 5:30 p.m., he still hadn't heard anything from the district.

It was a scary evening for him, and for one mother.

"My daughter never got off the bus," said Candy Wright.

That's because she was on the wrong bus. It was a bus that happened to get hit by debris from the accident in front of it.

"When I got to the school, they didn't know where my daughter was," said Wright. "They just finally called the driver and found out she was on route 9 and it had been in an accident."

There were no serious injuries.

ABC11 took Wright's and Beimler's concerns to McCoy.

As far as the automated phone system not working. McCoy said, "It's of course a new system, and there may be some problems in it we would like to know about."

When it comes to children getting on the wrong bus or home late, McCoy said, "At the dismissal, you've got hundreds of kids in some situations, some campuses have 2,000, we're trying to make sure they get on the right bus. So it's taking longer for those buses to depart the campus."

McCoy says when the bus is late at one school it's a trickle down effect throughout the evening.

Have a transportation concern? Here is a list of school bus stops and bus routes in your home county.

» Wake County «

» Durham County «

» Cumberland County «

» Orange County «

» Chatham County «

» Lee County «

» Nash County «

» Edgecombe County «

Troopers want to use the start of the traditional academic year as a reminder to motorists that the law requires drivers to stop and stay in place when a school bus has its stop sign and flashing red lights engaged.

Remember drivers, the law requires all traffic to stop for flashing school buses on a two-lane road, a two-lane road with a center turn lane and a four-lane road without a median.

Drivers behind a flashing school bus on a divided highway with four or more lanes with a median and a four-lane road with a center turn lane must also stop.

Statistics show that too many motorists disobey the law. A statewide count by school bus drivers on one day last March reported that 3,300 vehicles illegally passed their stopped bus.

Twelve students have been killed boarding or leaving a school bus since 1999. Four of those deaths were last year.

And remember to drive safe around school zones too -- it is also an almost $400 fine for speeding in a school zone.

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Tags:
cumberland county, durham county, edgecombe county, harnett county, johnston county, lee county, moore county, nash county, orange county, wake county, local/state
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