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Old 01-21-2010, 03:41 PM
GretasLittleFriends GretasLittleFriends is offline
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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.
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Old 01-21-2010, 03:59 PM
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What is policy for a child being locked out of the home. I have awesome communication with the transportation manager at school. When in doubt she will always call me and she trust my word. We have an agreement that if the parents can't be reach then for safety purposes the child is safer coming to my home.

As far as policy, children in grades k-3 grade are NOT allowed to be dropped off at a home until the bus drivers see the parent. If no parent is present or comes to the door the driver leaves with the child and calls the transportation manager to get ahold of parent/care taker. The child is brought to the bus garage and waits until they can get ahold of someone. In grades 4-6 the driver does not need to see a parent, but needs to wait until the child goes into the home. 7-12 they are just dropped off.

Do you have a PTA at your school? If so I would invite myself to a meeting and lobby that those changes be implemented. You can also file a grievence with the town board and demand the issues be addressed. Just keep going higher until you get results. I would assume in your state there is a edcation department in your capital that oversees educational institutions.
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:38 PM
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AfterSchoolMom AfterSchoolMom is offline
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Does the school require a hand written note, or would a phone call serve the same purpose? Make it a requirement that the parent MUST first call the school to let them know which bus their child will be riding, and that they MUST call you if anything changes (charge a fee if they don't!). Alternately, you said that you have limited space in your vehicle, but would it be possible to pick the kids up from school yourself?
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:56 PM
GretasLittleFriends GretasLittleFriends is offline
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GBCC- There is no policy about seeing parent or ensuring child even gets into the house. They just open the doors, let the child out and drive away. If they had this policy it might improve things somewhat. Like I said we live in a rural area. I did ask the SI today about that. Child gets off the bus, walks around to the back of the house (where the main door is located) to find door locked, bus is long gone, then what?? No answer, just that parents need to be held accountable. GRRRRR!!!

My next step is to communicate with the school board, and take it from there. Of course a side step is to make it VERY clear to the parents that I cannot tolerate inattentiveness. If the school messes up I will not (obviously) hold that against the parent.

AfterSchoolMom- The school will accept a phone call from the parent as opposed to a note, but some of my parents don't have easy access to a phone during the day. For example I have one that's a prison guard. But I LOVE the idea of charging parents a fee for not notifying me of changes to their schedule. That might help some of them to remember me.

I'd love to be able to pick the children up at school and alleviate any headache, but it's just not possible for several reasons. The biggest being vehicle capacity. Depending on which one I take it either seats 5 or 6 (including the driver). On a slow day it could work, but not most days. On most Mondays for example I have 2 preschoolers, 2 kindergartners, 1 1st grader, then usually 2-3 in the infant/toddler department. Oh, and then there's my 8th grader an myself. I suppose I could send the one preschooler (my son) home on the bus with her, but that's still potentially 7 children and me as a driver. Our school is pre-k thru 12th grade, and the bus serves all of those ages.
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:09 PM
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mac60 mac60 is offline
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Our policies are:
They will drop off and pick up at daycare as long as it is a consistent schedule. No today, not tomorrow type of thing. It has to be a set schedule, except for the occassional time when a parent or family member is taking to school or dropping off because student has to take something into school like a project, etc.

I have a kindy and a first grader........The bus driver must visually see a person at the home before they will drop off. The first grader.....the bus driver does the same for her although I am not sure is required.

My question is: Are the kids dropped at your home on a consistent schedule? If not, I would think that is part of the problem. There should be some consistency in the schedules. It sounds like there needs to be better communication between school and the parents. I would be upset with the school too, as a parent and as a provider. They should of made a call before forcing her to go to her home.

We had an indicent several years ago with an elementary age boy in a local school district. For weather reasons, school was left out early. The bus driver dopped 10 yr old boy off, no one was home and he was locked out. He tried to climb thru a window and the window came down on him and somehow he got caught in the window, couldn't get on thru, and was killed. The school was sued. They no longer let schools out early here.

Please let us know what happens with this.
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:54 PM
laundryduchess@yahoo.com laundryduchess@yahoo.com is offline
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first of all sending a big hug to everyone involved, How scary!!!

our rule here is GET ON THE BUS FOR JILLS. GO TO DAYCARE! EVERY DAY! I am always here,... they pick them up from here to keep the kids safe. I am ALWAYS here. always always always. Thats all the kids have to remember,.. Miss Jill is always home. It is inconvenient sometimes to come here and pick up if they live far away,.. if they werent working that day,.. or whatever. But the security in knowing they are here, with someone and not alone,.... somewhere else,... is worth it for us here. Also, if a child does NOT get off the bus I am on the phone within moments of the bus doors closing. to Mom, then the school, then the bus barn if needed. I had a K once who fell asleep,... driver dropped him as soon as route was over. It works for us here,... good luck,...
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:01 PM
kitkat kitkat is offline
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I'm surprised the bus company even accommodates the kids who don't have a consistent schedule to ride 2 different buses. My nephews bus company won't even allow for 2 different pick up sites (mom's house, dad's house). On mornings my sister has him, she has to drive him to dad's house to get the bus.

I agree with Mac60, there needs to be better communication between the school and the parents. I hope the parents were also complaining to the school about the policy!

I would also have the parents write a note and call the school to make sure bus changes were received. As a parent, I'd even email the teacher to make sure he/she was aware of the changes. When I ran an afterschool program for a local school district, the teachers all received a list of what kids were to come to the program on which days. The teachers were great about making sure the kids remembered and got on the right bus.

Another option could be to have the kids with inconsistent schedules have your house as the primary drop off. Then when they need to ride the bus home, a note gets sent for that. That way even if the parents forget the note, the kids would get sent on the bus to your house and all involved will know there's an adult and the kid will be safe. You might have parents try to take advantage of that, but charge a hefty fee for their lack of attentiveness and I'm sure that'll take care of it.
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:03 PM
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Laundryduchess: I was typing when your post was posted! I totally agree with your policy.
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Old 01-22-2010, 03:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac60 View Post
We had an indicent several years ago with an elementary age boy in a local school district. For weather reasons, school was left out early. The bus driver dopped 10 yr old boy off, no one was home and he was locked out. He tried to climb thru a window and the window came down on him and somehow he got caught in the window, couldn't get on thru, and was killed. The school was sued. They no longer let schools out early here.
Oh, that is so aweful. I could not imagine that parent coming home to that. I don't make drop off and pick up here mandatory. I have some parents home in time and this allows for more income as I can have extra children afterschool if some of the morning ones go home.

However, I do make it mandatory that I am always listed as the emergency busing home in case of school emergency or early closings.
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Old 01-22-2010, 05:26 AM
wejo928
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If the school reqires notes i fax them. My son is older and thinks it is not cool to take them in. Absentees, conferences & physicals.
My other cildren take everything in but he just forgets to much.

So if the parents have access to a fax machine have them fax it in. I recomend 1 sheet with note addressed to the teacher, 1 to office or principle and 1 to bus company. So they cut and send them to the right terachers.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-22-2010, 06:12 AM
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Here in my town, the busses are ran and supplied by the school system. The school system, not the daycare providers, has the say in how things are done. Here we feel fortunate that the buses will even work with parents/providers for dropoff/pick up. Sometimes they are witchy about things.

Yesterday morning in the Toledo, OH area, a 15 yr old girl was hit and killed by a woman driving an SUV. The bus had stopped, all the lights were flashing, and as the girl crossed the street to get onto the bus the SUV came by and hit her. Tragic. The news said it happened last year too in that same area to another girl. Parents in the area are trying to get some laws changed for bus safety.

I know in my own neighborhood, the busses only make stops every so often. We live in a small subdivision. The bus stops maybe every 10 to 15 houses or so. My house is a bus stop. There are 2 middle school kids that live 6 houses down. At 3p.m. at drop off, the bus will drive right past their home and drop them off in front of my home, then they have to backtrack and walk back to their house. No sidewalks, in the street. It is stupid. There is no reason that the bus could not take 15 seconds and drop them off at their home.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:21 AM
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Wow, here in NY it is a major felony to pass a school bus. Especially with the lights on. In my town luckily we don't have bus stops. The bus will stop at each child's home. With all the creeps out there I would not be very happy if my child got on and off at a bus stop.
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GretasLittleFriends View Post
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.
Maybe it's high time we bring this up at a school board meeting......board members are ELECTED by the PEOPLE, and thus less likely to give us the "say it in 50 words or less form letter" brush off!

You'd be amazed at the level of frantic action that occurs when you bring up the magic words "Children" "Safety" and "Votes" in the same sentence to an elected official in a public meeting. Nobody that has to stand for election wants to get labeled as being anti-child safety.
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:08 PM
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Where I live, we also have rules about bus drivers not allowing kinergartners off of the bus unless a parent is waiting out at the stop. But I've seen several instances where drivers have completely disregarded that rule. Teachers get busy too, and notes are easy to lose. Personally, I suggest changing your policy to only allow consistent bus schedules. You can't depend on the school staff or the bus drivers to make sure kids are going to the right place (and in this case they've proven that).

I have a set of school-age siblings (gr.1 & kindy) that come to my place after school 2 days a week. On the off days, they still take the same bus, get off at the same stop and are picked up there by Dad. That way everything stays the same everyday. If I had the OP's situation, I would require that the school-agers get off at my stop everyday. Mom or Dad could pick them up from my place at their convenience. I don't know if I'd charge extra, but I'd definitely make the change.

The possibility of a child being left locked out of an empty house is such a dangerous one, and it's not fair to the child to leave it up to a string of adults who don't have the time or attention to make sure it doesn't happen.
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:29 AM
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No suggestions but...

In our district you cannot do what you are doing at all. Kids are dropped off at the same place every day, you cannot pick and choose days for different drop offs...note or no note.

There is just way too much room for confusion and dangerous mistakes to happen. My answer would be to not do this at all before something terrible happens.
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