Richmond County Superintendent addresses school bus concerns, new issues arise

Richmond County Superintendent addresses school bus concerns, new issues arise
View of school bus from the floor (Source: WFXG)

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Concerns over two bus fires in Richmond County just last month led to a presentation at the school board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13. A representative from the Transport Workers Union brought concerns to the board, and Superintendent Pringle addressed school buses as a whole. However, even with this attention, community members in the crowd were not satisfied when they left the meeting.

“I wasted gas and time just coming here,” said Jamila Ameen, former Richmond County school bus driver. Ameen said she came to the school board meeting to voice concerns she still has about the condition of the school buses. She said, “These buses break down daily. There are drivers stranded daily. This is not news to me. I don’t even let my son ride the bus." These issues go back years, she said. She added that Dr. Pringle is aware of all of them. “She is aware of the problems with the buses. She is fully aware since two years ago, when I used to be an employee here.”

During Dr. Pringle’s presentation, she laid out improvements made to buses since 2013. She said over 7 million dollars have been spent on everything from driver salaries to getting air condition on the school buses. She made a point to discuss safety inspections that she says happen every 20 days and the recent school bus fires as well. “Recently we had two bus fires, and what i will say is that was odd...that was very odd. As a result of that situation, we contacted an arson investigator,” said Dr. Pringle. “Nobody burnt that bus. That bus is just raggedy..that’s it,” said Ameen.

Dr. Pringle said those incidents are still under investigation, which was unsettling to other parents in the room. Ghazala Annette Turabi said, “They are still investigating, I heard Dr. Pringle say, but what caused the fire? Was it a mechanical issue? I would question the mechanics that work on those buses first.”

Other concerns were raised regarding the vehicles as well. The Transport Workers Union brought up toxic gases coming from the vehicles. They say those gases are causing drivers to get sick. One parent, after the meeting, told FOX 54 reporter Lex Juarez that their child had seen a rat bite their school bus driver. Each of these new concerns led to parents, community members and union members bringing up the need for further conversation.

FOX 54 will be looking into the health concerns brought up by the Transport Workers Union. We will be bringing you updates on that as we find out more.

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