Richmond County parents express safety concerns with bus system after recent incidents
RICHMOND COUNTY (WFXG) - RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN IN SESSION FOR A MONTH. MANY PARENTS SAY THEY ARE STILL HAVING ISSUES WITH THE BUS SYSTEM. THEIR BIGGEST CONCERN IS THEIR KIDS' SAFETY.
RICHMOND COUNTY PARENT, SUSAN WATTS SAYS SHE EXPERIENCED EVERY PARENTS WORST NIGHTMARE. IT HAPPENED ON THE SECOND DAY OF SCHOOL, WHEN HER TWO SONS, WHO ATTEND RICHMOND HILL K-8 WERE DROPPED OFF BY A BUS DRIVER AT A CIRCLE K GAS STATION, NEARLY A MILE AWAY FROM THEIR HOUSE AND EXPECTED TO WALK HOME. “I SIT AND WAIT FOR THEM...AND I LOOK AND I JUST SEE THEM WALKING UP THE ROAD." WHEN SHE ASKED THEM WHERE THEY HAD WALKED FROM. THEY INFORMED HER THAT IT WAS FROM THE CIRCLE K UP THE ROAD. LUCKILY, HER KIDS KNEW HOW TO GET HOME. SHE ACKNOWLEDGES THAT SOME KIDS MIGHT NOT. "I HAVE OTHER KIDS WHO ARE GOING TO GROW UP AND BE REAL LITTLE AND HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL AND I DON’T FEEL SAFE PUTTING THEM ON THE BUSES,” SAYS wATTS.
AFTER THE ISOLATED INCIDENT, SHE CALLED rcBOE TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT TO MAKE COMPLAINTS. HOWEVER, THE ISSUES WERE NEVER RESOLVED. SHE WAS TOLD THAT THE DRIVER WAS A SUBSTITUTE, BUT SHE HAS SINCE LEARNED THAT IT WAS THEIR NORMAL BUS DRIVER.
WATTS SAYS THAT HER KID'S BUS STOP WAS MOVED THIS YEAR, TO A HIGH TRAFFIC AREA THAT SHE SAYS IS DANGEROUS TO GET TO AND A DISTANCE FROM THEIR HOUSE. IN ADDITION, SHE SAYS HER KIDS ARE STILL LATE FOR SCHOOL SOMETIMES. ALTHOUGH, IT ISN’T A NEW ISSUE. “THEY WERE LATE LAST YEAR, REALLY LATE....AND STILL, 5:30, 6:00 P.M. IS WHEN THEY’LL BE COMING HOME AND STILL, REALLY LATE IN THE MORNINGS AS WELL,” SAYS wATTS.
ANOTHER RICHMOND HILL PARENT THAT WE SPOKE WITH OFF-CAMERA SAYS THEY HAVE SAFETY CONCERNS AS WELL AFTER THEIR STOP WAS MOVED TO AN UNSAFE LOCATION. THEY HAVE SINCE STARTED DRIVING THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL.
WATTS KNOWS THAT A SOLUTION TO THE NATIONWIDE BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE THAT THE COUNTY IS SUFFERING FROM ISN’T THAT SIMPLE. DESPITE THIS, SHE BELIEVES SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE. “PAY THEM MORE, OFFER BENEFITS, SOMETHING AND REALLY BE VETTING THESE PEOPLE THAT ARE DRIVING THE BUSES.”
SHE SAYS THAT NO ONE FROM THE SCHOOL HAS PUBLICLY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT THE SHORTAGE. HOWEVER, RICHMOND COUNTY DID HOST A JOB FAIR LAST WEEK TO FILL POSITIONS FOR DRIVERS, ATTENDANTS AND MECHANICS.
WE REACHED OUT TO THE RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR COMMENT and they provided us with this statement: "Safety of our students is our top priority. Our bus drivers and elementary school students complete bus safety training as required by the Georgia Department of Education every year. If any of our families have concerns about bus or bus stop safety, we encourage them to contact the Safety Coordinator in our Transportation Department at 706-796-4777."
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