Last Wednesday, Travis Greco’s stepdaughter walked back to her house from the Old Island Highway as her school bus drove away without her and her parents watched in disbelief out the front window.
She had been informed by the driver that the bus was at capacity, and she would need to find other arrangements to get to school.
“I saw in the paper that there was an overcrowding situation on that bus,” Greco said, referring to a Mirror story from Sept. 1 where it was revealed certain routes, including his stepdaughter’s, were well over ridership capacity, “but that can’t be the solution. You can’t just leave kids behind and say, ‘Find your own way, we don’t have room.’”
“We are aware that there have been instances where students have been left behind when attempting to board the bus on Route 2 (the route in question), and that situation is unacceptable,” said Kevin Patrick, Secretary/Treasurer for SD72 in response to the issue.
“Once we’re notified of these types of problems, we do take immediate steps to address them,” he said.
The step being taken to address this specific problem, he said, is that two of the stops on Route 2 will now be served by the Route 3 school bus, hopefully alleviating both the earlier overcrowding issue and the current issue of having children left behind.
“There are safety concerns, both in allowing busses to run over capacity, and in leaving kids behind at stops and not allowing them to board,” Patrick said. “We’re hopeful this will remedy both of those scenarios so that neither one will ever happen again.”
Patrick said that parents in the affected area are being notified immediately that the route change is about to take effect.
The change itself will happen, according to Patrick, “in a few days, once we’re satisfied parents have been notified of the change.”
Greco said he’s mainly upset that his complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears when he left multiple messages for Steve Woods, Manager of Operations for SD72, who he was told to contact with complaints, and when he spoke with the administration of his daughter’s school directly about the issue.
“There was a lot of passing the buck going on,” he said. “I don’t know why they couldn’t just admit something was wrong, or just reach out to us and apologize, even.”
He’s also hopeful his stepdaughter doesn’t get left behind again.
“She missed enough school last month,” he said.