Day 2 of school bus problems in Broward
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- One day after the start of public school, some parents are complaining about a bus load of confusion.
Betty Nesbitt stood outside her home Tuesday, at 4 p.m., on her phone trying to talk to someone from her grand daughters' school after both children had yet to arrive home. "My grand baby's still missing in a wheelchair," she said.
One of the girls, Nakissa, has cerebral palsy and cannot speak. Nesbitt had been close to calling the Broward Sheriff's Office. Then, two-and-a-half hours after she was supposed to be home, the bus arrived. "I'm disappointed with the system," said Nesbitt, "because she's a CP patient, wheel-chair bound. She can't sit up that long. There's certain hours and times she cane sit up. This is too long for her."
The Bus driver told Nesbitt she had just picked her up, hours late. Nesbitt is not alone. Charles Fulton's son was left at his supposed bus stop, but the bus never came, he said. "My son was left unattended by himself," Fulton said. "The bus never came."
Fulton was so angry that his 12-year-old son was left alone, he called Davie Police. "The Broward County Schools had all summer to figure this out," he said. "Why does this happen the first day of school."
"This is ridiculous," said Michael Nielsen, whose son has special needs, yet, for two days, no bus has shown to pick him up. "I should be able to leave my son at the bus stop and not have to worry, and I have to worry. I can't just leave him there."
Nielsen waited at the stop with dozens of other parents but had to take his child to Coral Springs Middle School himself. "I finally said to my son, 'Let's go.'"
Ronda McKenzie had to drop her middle school daughter off and then zip off to drop off her elementary school daughter at another school. The bus did not come for them either. It's an hour and a half drive for her.
Like, Nielsen, she too has tried to make phone calls to get the bus at the bus stop. However... "I called transportation and I waited like 30 minutes on hold. Then the phone rang, and I'm thinking I'm going to speak with someone and then the phone just disconnects ... so that's where it's at with the bus route."
"They're not answering the phone at all," said Nielsen. "It just keeps ringing and ringing and ringing, or it's busy because so many people are calling in."
In an effort to save money, the Broward School District centralized its routing system and now all buses are departing from one bus depot. They are now also using a new computer program.
Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie understands that's no excuse. "We get through it, we correct it, doesn't mean it's acceptable," he said. "I apologize to every parent that has to go through this. I wouldn't have to go through it as a parent."
Nielsen was among hundreds of parents at the Pompano Beach Broward School Transportation Office over the weekend for hours looking for bus route information that never arrived in the mail. Like many others, he found out too little too late that his child did not have a bus assignment. "They gave us a route number, and they gave us a route address to go to school and said, 'There's no bus there yet, but we guarantee you'll have a bus,'" he said.
But the promise was broken, making Nielsen late to work for a second day in a row. McKenzie, meanwhile, is just furious. "Times are really hard right now," she said, "and the gas is $3.75 a gallon, so therefore it's really taken a toll on me."
Runcie agrees there are issues. The school system, he said, transports 85,000 students a day. He has suggested parents go to their school to resolve any issues. "The parents in the community got my commitment that it will be fixed," Runcie said. "It will be fixed in short order."
The Broward County School Board has suggested any parent with issues with school transportation to call the following hot line number: (754) 321-4480 and/or their children's school.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)