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Old 01-21-2010, 03:41 PM
GretasLittleFriends GretasLittleFriends is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 936
Default School Aged Children and Busing

This is going to be lengthy.

I've been having problems with two kindergarten boys and one first grade girl and the school administration about the busing policy. I could use some advice, and not doing care for school aged children is NOT an option for me. I should also mention that I live in a very rural area. For example we have 20 acres, and we have a small lot for our area.

Here's history:

January 4- a kindergartner brought a note to school to ride the bus to my house in the afternoon. That note was transferred to a bus pass. He lives on bus route A, and typically rides bus B to my house Monday, Tuesday and Friday afternoons. He had a bus pass to ride the bus B to my house, yet he somehow managed to get on bus A and ride the bus home where no one was there and he was locked out. The high that day was around 10, but the wind chill brought it below 0. Bus B dropped the rest of the children off at my house around 3:25. That was when I found this one child did not get off the bus at my house. I immediately checked with the mother to verify he was supposed to be here, and she said he was. This of course started her worrying. I informed her that my husband happened to be home so I would send him straight to their house which is about a 20 minute drive one way. I then called the school to verify that was indeed where the child went. In the meantime the mother was able to contact her mother, the child's grandmother, who happened to be closer and was able to get to their house about 5 minutes before my husband arrived. This child spent 30 minutes, after he got off the bus, outside in the frigid cold, crying. He spent the rest of the day with his grandmother. It was a very stressful experience for the mother, the grandmother, and me. It was also a very frightening and COLD experience for the child. Fortunately he didn't suffer any frostbite.
January 11- a similar incident occurred.* A first grader was dropped off at my house early in the morning and rode bus B (the bus for my area) to school. She was expected to ride bus B back to my house from school. Her mother wrote a note, but it is my understanding that no note was found. Since no note was found this first grader was informed that she would need to ride bus A to her house instead of coming to daycare after school. This upset her as she knew her parents were both working and she was to come to my house. The girl's mother called me shortly before the bus was due to arrive at my house and informed me that her daughter would not be getting off. The mother also informed me that she spoke with a neighbor and the girl would spend the afternoon with that neighbor. Fortunately the girl had someone waiting for her when she got off the bus. The mother informed me that even though the girl threw a fit and wanted to come to daycare, she was still sent home, potentially alone. I was also informed that the school did not attempt to call the mother for verification until after the buses had already left. Before the buses left school, B bus driver asked my 8th grade daughter if this first grader was supposed to be on bus B to come to my house. My daughter confirmed that the girl should be coming to my house. Driver said she would verify with the office, radioed in, and was informed that the first grader was supposed to go home. The days that this girl comes to my house vary from day to day because her parents' schedules.
There have been at least two other occasions with this first grader where no note was found so the child was sent to her own house on bus A, where no one was home. One of these previous occasions a phone call was made to the child's house for verification; there was no answer at the child's house because nobody was home. Yet the child was sent there anyway because she didn't have a note to come to daycare. On that particular day I loaded up what daycare children I had into my car and drove over to the girl's house to pick her up. My car doesn't fit very many passengers and what would happen if I wasn't able to load up all of my daycare children to go on "rescue missions"? I would have to hire a sub, wait for the sub to arrive, then go rescue the child. That would leave the child home alone even longer.
I have a daughter who is an 8th grade student. Each morning I tell her who should be on the bus in the afternoon. I also call her at school when there are any changes to what I told her in the morning. I would much rather have a child show up unexpectedly to my house, a safe environment, then to have them sent home, alone, and have them locked out where they are vulnerable to the elements and general unsafe conditions. These children we're talking about are ages 5 and 6 years old. This has happened several times with children in my daycare. I am sure I'm not the only daycare provider that has had this issue.

I wrote a letter to the superintendent/principal after the Jan 11th incident and what is listed above is copied and pasted from the letter.

Letter received from superintendent January 18th reads:
Thank you for your letter of concern in reference to busing at East Central. I want to assure you that the issues you pointed out were addressed by the teachers involved, the parents, and our Dean of Students prior to receiving your letter. Thank you for your concern. Sincerely,

January 21 - I was expecting a kindergartner (different one) to be coming to my house this afternoon. The child did NOT have a note from his father, so no bus pass was made. The father had decided that the child was going to spend time with a grandparent. The father, however, did not notify me of this. I told my teenage daughter this morning to expect said child. This afternoon daughter asked the bus driver if the child was on the bus, he was not. The bus driver called into the office, the driver was informed that the child was sent home. The school office called me to notify me that that my daughter questioned where this child was. The school attempted to call the child's father and couldn't get a hold of him, so they sent him home per their policy anyway. The dad called me while I was on the phone with the school informing me child was going home and was spending the day with grandparent. Kind of upset for the short notice, but this time I know child isn't locked out during a Minnesota winter snow/sleet storm.

After the children were off the bus at my house we drove to superintendents office to discuss this because in my eyes the issues are NOT resolved. The superintendent (he's also k-12 principal) basically sat in his office and blamed inattentive parenting. He also stated that it's their policy to send the child to the bus stop on record. I tried to argue the safety and well being of the children with said policy, but he didn't seem to care or understand my point.

I'm writing a notice for my parents informing them that effective immediately I am requesting to be the secondary contact on their child's emergency contact form. While I care about the safety and well being of the children, I'm tired of the stress of wondering where my school aged children are. Some of the situations were the parents' faults for lack of note, some the child's fault for losing notes that responsible parents wrote, and some the school's fault. I'm having a hard time drawing the line, and can I really? I don't think I can make the child stay outside and suffer because the parent forgot to write a note. I've also decided that if the parent cannot be reached, and the school calls me and I ok the child to come here (somewhere safe) and child was indeed supposed to go home I won't charge for the 1/2 hour or so that the child is here waiting on the parent.

I will also be amending my contract regarding busing after school and to be added for emergency contact. Oh, and next time he's up for election, I will be voting the superintendent out, he doesn't seem to be a good leader or listener.

Any advice or input on this matter will be greatly appreciated.
Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back.
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