Parents Outraged After Students Stranded on Providence School Bus
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
According to one parent who spoke to GoLocal, and mutliple others who posted messages on Facebook, a bus that was carrying students from the Henry Barnard School got lost on the East Side after being on the road for an extended period of time, and then stopped and let all of the kids out.
A community meeting open to the public to discuss bussing concerns is scheduled at the Jewish Community Center on Elmgrove Avenue on Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM. See invitation below.
A Parent's Perspective
Providence parent Kira Weidner Greene told GoLocal of the situation that unfolded Friday afternoon that has her -- and other parents -- looking for answers.
"That afternoon, I was waiting for my daughter at the bus stop when the bus was becoming increasingly late and not showing up," she said. "I had already called the transportation division the day before, due to the lack of predictability so far this year of when then bus would pick my daughter up and drop her off. This wasn't a new issue."
"When it was late on Friday, I started hearing reports from parents that the bus, which is not the usual bus which takes the kids Monday through Thursdays, had missed all its stops that afternoon."
"Parents who had called the PPSD (Providence Public School Department) about the missing bus were told they couldn't track it down, that the GPS wasn't working and they weren't able to get ahold of the bus driver," she continued.
"I finally flagged it down going the wrong way down Elmgrove [Avenue], when it just pulled over -- no flashing lights, it just stopped," she continued. "I boarded the bus and saw a bunch of scared looking kids."
"I took my daughter with me as well as two other children we know, which is a major breach of safety protocol," Weidner-Greene said. "I didn't know what else to do, but I knew I had to get those kids off of there."
"I also witnessed two young children being let off bus without a parent or guardian and the bus monitor did not check to see if they had permission to do so. Another breach of protocol...it was truly unsettling."
"The bus then travelled several blocks when several of the older students -- these are five to ten year-olds on the bus -- demanded the bus driver pull over and let them off. A mom was there at that location, but all of a sudden she had all these kids come out. So she called the police."
The Providence Public School Department did not return calls for comment.
Calling Protocol Into Question
"I know there have been budget cuts and changes made to the bus routes and schedules, but kids are late both coming and going," she said. "If our kids' education is supposed to so important, why are they allowing this?"
Weidner-Greene continued, "I know that these are tough budgetary times, but if we're making cuts, why are the kids feeling the effects?"
"Finally, I'm concerned about the protocol for drivers and monitors after Friday's incident," she said. "How was it acceptable for a bus to leave with a broken GPS, not know where it was going, or no way to track it down?"
"I'm most concerned about being able to take the students who weren't my own kids off the bus. The monitor is supposed to have permission from the student's parents to do this, but in this case, it was extenuating circumstances. I needed to get those kids off that bus."
Weidner-Greene said that she'd reached out to the school department and elected officials, including Mayor Taveras, about the incident.
Public Forum Scheduled for Tuesday Night
The following was posted on Facebook regarding tonight's event at the JCC:
"A group of concerned parents are gathering together to voice concern and organize in order to advocate for improvements with the Providence public school busses.
This year has been characterized by considerable negligence (e.g. children being left with the wrong people or by themselves, disorganized bus routes, excessively long rides, erratic drivers, missing monitors, and other problems).
Please join us! All schools (private & public) welcome!
If you are not able to attend, but want to voice concerns, please email me at email@example.com and I will keep you in the loop."
Weidner-Greene, who has been helping to organize the event, said the following.
"The school department and the city need to be held accountable for all of the students they drop off and pick up late, this is not just about Bus 121. To be honest, my biggest concern lies with the kids all over the City of Providence whom are completely being shown a huge lack of care and respect. Not to mention the working families who have no idea when their child is being dropped."
"I have a car and a flexible job. Many parents do not. If the city cannot provide its youth with a reliable and safe transport to school that says a lot."
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