A Boy, A Girl, And A Bus

So you know I’m always saying be careful who you bash when you talk about things to do with your kids, right?  Don’t talk bad about a teacher of your child in public.  Don’t talk bad about administration.  It just makes things more difficult for you when you have to address problems.  Especially when it’s in writing and on the internet.

And today I break that rule.  But I’m going to tell you there does come a time when you just have to.  That time would be after you have exhausted every possible resource and have still gotten no where.  That is when you need to take it public.

Now I do think for the most part I have gotten to a solution here to my problem.  I will have to wait and see what happens.  I’m hopeful things will be worked out, but I strongly believe that it did not have to get to the point that it did for the problem to be resolved.  It has caused a lot of stress and aggravation and even tears and that’s not a good thing.

It All Began On A Bus

School started one week ago and I sent three of my babies away on a bus.  This has been a relatively routine thing for the past year.  This is the first year that I have had two children on the same bus though.  So I put my 10 year old and my 4 year old on a bus together Thursday morning.  The driver pulled up and seemed to have a bit of an attitude, but it was the first day, things were stressful.  She was directing the older children to the back and the younger ones to the front.

Last year little ones were allowed to sit in back with older ones on my daughter’s bus so my 10 year old had been telling her brother he could sit in back with her this year.  So when the driver was grouchily saying 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to the back, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd towards the front I asked the driver if my Kindergartner could go in back with his big sister.  She said no, but she could sit with him up front.  Okay, that seems fine, they were together.  My 10 year old could make sure her little brother remained in his seat and would be there for him if anything happened.  And she would be able to get him off the bus at school, all was fine.

Coming Home Was A Different Story

We only have half day Kindergarten so my son gets on the bus with other Kindergartners to come home.  On that first day of school he was nearly 2 hours late getting home.  I called the bus company twice trying to figure out where he was.  Now I get the first day of school is always confusing, but all I kept thinking was did he go to the bathroom before he was sent home?  Was he going to have an accident?  Is he starving because he hadn’t had lunch?  Was he scared or homesick?  You know all of the typical mom worries about your young child who is on the bus much longer than anticipated.

And then I watched a bus come down our street and stop at a house three houses away and pick up an afternoon Kindergarten student.  I thought oh shoot still not his bus.  But nope after it picked her up it came over to our house and lights began flashing and the bus was pulling over in front of our house.  What?  There’s no way they actually have the morning students getting OFF the bus and the afternoon students getting ON the bus at the same time.  That would be ludicrous!  And apparently according to the bus company I am in the minority here in thinking that because they have been doing this without a problem for many years.

My son was on that bus.  He was nearly 2 hours on the bus and then I’m thinking how can they shave enough time off that route to get those afternoon kids in on time?  And then I started really thinking about the safety of this.  What is to prevent a child from missing his stop and getting brought back to the school?  It’s not like the driver can stop the bus and check it after it drops the last child off to make sure everyone got off the bus.  But what do I know?

So Now Day Two

Surely things have got to improve on day two.  The drivers have begun to learn their stops a little better the schools are beginning to work out the kinks.  Things have to get better.

Well, not quite.  Instead I hear my Kindergartner being screamed at from four houses away.  So on the phone to the bus company I am again because there was no reason for my child to be screamed at like that.  I was told they were going to talk to her.

It was Friday though so we wouldn’t really have to deal with her until after the long weekend.  Drop off on Friday was slightly better.  He was only on the bus for an hour and 15 minutes that time.  Okay, so improvement.  Things can only get better, right?

When my ten year old got home from school she was in hysterics about her friend because she missed her bus stop.  Well, actually the bus driver never stopped there and she was refusing to drop the child off.

After her friend finally made it home she called her and I ended up talking to her mother for a while because she had called the bus company.  She wanted to find out if I had called and complained about her too and I told her what had happened in the morning and that they were supposed to talk to her.  So my daughter’s friend’s mom was understandably upset about her daughter and wanted to make sure things would change.  But again we wouldn’t know how things were until Tuesday.

Now It’s Tuesday

The kids seemed to get off just fine.  Around the time my son was supposed to get home I headed outside to wait for the bus.  The bus driver pulled up about 50 minutes after my son got out of school.  I walked up to the bus, called for my son, and the driver goes I don’t think he was put on my bus.  They split up her route and she thought he might have been put on the wrong bus.  So now she was calling on the radio to find out where he was and my husband was calling on the phone.  Five minutes later the bus pulls away saying well they are in contact with the driver who has him so you’ll have to call the bus company.

Meanwhile my husband is on the phone with them and they say the driver has one more stop to make and then he’ll bring our son home.  No one had an answer for how this happened, no one even had an apology for it.

Twenty minutes later though he still wasn’t home.  Another call to the bus company had them saying he was 2 minutes away.  Finally I see a bus pull up to the corner, and I assume it must be him.  I walk onto the sidewalk and try to get the drivers attention.  He seemed to be looking for which way to turn on our street.  He finally turns towards me and as he’s pulling up I see my 4 year old son standing up next to the driver directing him where to go.  The driver was making no attempt to have him sit down.  I told my son when he opened the door that he was to remain seated when the bus is moving.  Nothing from the driver.

All I got was an earful about how the routes were all messed up and they had the wrong addresses with the wrong kids and he was just helping out.  So not his fault and I shouldn’t be mad at him.  I should be mad at the school apparently because they are the ones who put him on his bus.  Well, someone had to tell them to put my son on that bus.  How else would they know where the bus was going?

So this prompted many phone calls to the transportation department and the school.  I needed to make sure this would not happen again.  I needed to make it clear to them that this is why you don’t put drop off and pick up on the same bus.  Because this is how mistakes happen.  I have no idea what would have happened if I was not out in front of the house when the driver pulled up.  I don’t know that she would have stopped.  Even though my son has been taught his address and his name I can’t be sure he would tell someone.  But the fact that the driver didn’t call anyone about my son not being on her bus until she pulled up in front of my house is troubling to me.

The school was the only one I heard back from with assurance that they were doing everything in their power to make sure all of the children get home safely.  They were not given an updated route sheet and when they were it was incorrect with the wrong child’s name with the wrong address.  They were correcting the route sheets and hoped to have the corrected ones by the next day.  Now mind you my son is already beginning to ask to be picked up from school.  Unfortunately that is not entirely feasible with one car and my husband having to work.

Things Have To Be Better

So here we are Wednesday.  They must have figured out all of the errors of their ways by now and gotten it all figured out.  My children will get to school happy and in one piece and they will come home in a timely manner and not be missing for half an hour.  Right?  I mean they were aware of these problems and have addressed them all so all should be good now.

Not so much.  I put my 10 year old and 4 year old on the bus.  The bus driver in the morning who had been allowing my 10 year old to sit with her little brother was now telling her she had to go to the back of the bus.  Hey, remember on the 1st day of school, she said she could sit with him in the front not in the back.  Why are things different now?  I argued with her and said let her sit with her little brother and let her help him on and off the bus.  It’s not hurting you any it’s helping you.

Oh no I can’t do that the board of education wants the little ones in front and the older ones in the back.  I told her she was wrong that my kids could sit together and she closed the door and took off.  So I went home and called the bus company again.  Told them they needed to call the driver of my children’s bus and tell her that siblings can sit together and they told me no they can’t.  I said they’ve been doing it since day one why are you changing it now?  They told me that the board of education does not want it.

By this time I was furious.  I tried calling the transportation department again.  I should also say that I have yet to have a phone call returned.  I actually called to ask a question before school even started and they never called back.  I also emailed the transportation department on Friday with my concerns about the bus pick up.  And then Tuesday when my son was put on the wrong bus I called again.  Never once getting an answer always getting voice mail.

And sure enough that’s exactly what I get when I call again.  So instead of leaving another message that would go unanswered I just started calling departments.  Whoever would answer someone has to be able to tell me who else I can speak to about this.  I got someone who gave me the number for the supervisor to the transportation department.  I called that and got a secretary who said he had just stepped out to a meeting and would be back after that and I could leave a message on his voice mail.  So that’s what I did.  I left him a very angry voice mail because what can I say at this point I was angry.  I was not getting any answers.  I was not getting any apologies.  And no one was calling me back.  Someone had to respond and solve this problem.

And when I was done with that I began to clean and get ready for my youngest daughter’s speech therapy.  Then my phone rang.  It was a friend of mine who has a Kindergartner at school with my son.  They are in separate classes, but he’s a walker so she is there in the morning on the playground.

She asked me how my son was when I put him on the bus in the morning.  I said he was fine, why?  She said she saw him on the playground crying and all worked up and sweating.  He was with one of the aides who wasn’t really consoling him.  She had approached him to see if she could calm him down and find out what was wrong, but the aide ended up shuffling him away from her.

Other mothers were around and I guess felt that the aide was not treating this situation quite right and were really concerned about him.  And now I’m listening to all of this and wondering is it because his sister couldn’t sit with him?  Is it because something happened on the bus?  Is it because he did something wrong?  Did he get hurt?  Did someone do something to him?  What was wrong with my boy and how do I fix it?

So I got off the phone with my friend and I cried.  And I called my husband at work and I cried.  And he told me to call the school and find out what was going on.  So I pulled myself together, called the school, and got no answers.  The office didn’t know anything so that means he wasn’t brought to the office.  The teacher was in class so they had to have her call me back when she had a chance.  So I finished getting ready for my daughter’s therapist and I tried to keep busy.  I’m glad I had the therapy for distraction.

When she left I put the baby down for a nap and I was just trying to keep busy with some stuff online.  Finally my son got home on his bus.  The bus was actually earlier than I had anticipated and he was on it.  And I was just so happy to see his handsome little face.  I spoke to his driver real quick.  We live right between two bus stops in the morning and the driver who drives him home picks up the kids at the other bus stop.  So I was trying to find out if I could put my kids on that bus in the morning and if they would be able to sit together.  She said it was pretty full and she’d have to ask her boss about the kids sitting together.  But I think this is a possible option.

I talked to my son about why he was so upset in the morning.  He was worked up because he wasn’t able to be with his sister.  I also then heard from his teacher who said he was fine once he got into the classroom.  She did think the anxiety of the situation with the bus played into things, but that this is all being resolved and she thinks he’ll be fine.

I Waited All Day To Hear From The Transportation Department

I did get an email response to my question about the drop off and pick up of Kindergarten students, but no phone call.  How aggravating that she was checking her email, but not her phone messages.

I tried the supervisor again who I was told had not been in the office all day and I could leave a message.  No thanks, done that when will he be back.  No one knows.  So I began calling every hour to find out if he was there.  And finally right before I was going to call again I got a phone call from the original person who was not answering her phone in the transportation department.

And apparently she had spoken to her supervisor who told her to call me.  I imagine he got an earful from his secretary.  I explained all of my concerns.  From the putting my child on the wrong bus, to him standing on the bus, and to the issues with the morning bus driver not allowing siblings to sit together and driving recklessly.

The way the Kindergarten pick up and drop off is done apparently it has always been done that way and they are saying it’s fixed now.  Also apparently there was no way my son should have been on the wrong bus at least not as long as he was because they are supposed to take attendance when the kids get on the bus before they leave the school.  That doesn’t seem to have happened though.  But the mix up on the route is supposed to be resolved.  We shall see.

Now for the morning bus driver she is not supposed to prevent siblings from sitting together.  The rule of Kindergarten in the front and older kids in the back was put into place for the new schools which are K-8 because in the cities infinite wisdom they decided to have Kindergartners on the bus with 8th graders and the same start time in a school of 900 with 600 of them being elementary school kids.

So my children never should have been separated because we are not in a new school.  They are supposed to tell the bus driver this.  They are also moving the bus stop because I had mentioned that she blocks the intersection.  My 10 year old is supposed to help her little brother off the bus too.  And they are supposed to check the tape on the driver about her reckless driving.

I am hoping that this resolves the problems.  That my son is not in tears in the morning when he gets to school.  That he makes it home safe and sound from here on out.  Only time will tell though.  It never should have gotten to this point where my children became fearful and were kept apart from one another.  We should be encouraging siblings sticking together and helping each other out instead of yelling at them when they do.

How did the school year start out for you?

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Comments

  1. Sounds like it started quite interesting for you and your little ones!

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