RICHMOND, Va. -- The father of a Richmond middle school student says his daughter’s bus is to blame for her three plus weeks of absences, and a Freedom of Information Act request indicates the bus has been late numerous times.
“She’s missed a total, because of the bus, maybe 19 (days) and that's because I have no transportation to get her to school,” said Glenn Scott.
Scott says his daughter Janiya has missed 19 days of school because her bus doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to or some days, not at all.
The Richmond father says his Elkhart Thompson sixth grader had perfect attendance until this year.
“She loves to learn so when the bus doesn’t come, and she can’t go she’s upset,” said Scott. “It’s very frustrating, because when I get her report card and those days she’s missed and tardies, it looks bad.”
It’s frustration he says he expressed to the truancy officer that visited him last month.
“He asked me ‘what’s going on?’ I pretty much told him the same thing I have been telling everyone, transportation, the school. If the bus doesn’t come, she can’t get to school and with only having one vehicle in the home, that’s even more difficult when the bus doesn’t come,” Scott explained.
“He said I’m not the only parent complaining about it. There’s other parents complaining about it, but I’m just trying to stay on top of it because like I told her, school is the most important. He said he’s going to get to the top of it and things will start changing,” Scott added.
Scott says he has also made multiple calls to the district’s transportation department.
“Sometime the bus will come out, sometimes it wouldn't, and then I’ll call them back and they say they were either not able to find one or they'll try to get on the situation,” said Scott.
But in a statement to CBS 6, a Richmond Public Schools spokesperson said:
“Our transportation department has not received any reports of students not being picked up at this particular stop. We are currently experiencing a shortage of drivers, to include this particular route however our department is working diligently to prioritize the routes that are most significantly impacted by the driver shortage. A bus shuttle system has been implemented to accommodate those routes until more drivers are hired. While the shuttle system may not be ideal as it may cause some delays, it is the most feasible solution at this time that will allow us to ensure that all of our students arrive safely to school each day. That said, we are pleased to announce that there is a class of drivers graduating in the coming weeks.
The goal of our transportation department is to transport our students to and from school in a safe, timely manner each day. Parents are encouraged to contact the transportation department directly to address their specific concerns so that immediate assistance can be provided.”
Upon further questioning by CBS 6 reporter Laura French, the spokesperson checked with RPS’ transportation director who provided the following:
A quick check of the GPS system shows that a bus has arrived every day for pickup at that particular stop dating back several months.
The bus is supposed to arrive at 7:18 a.m.
“You just don`t know when they are going to come and which way they coming from,” said Scott. “7:52, 7:43, 8:01, 7:35 it’s just scattered all over the place. It’s terrible.”
Under the Freedom of Information Act, CBS 6 obtained a detailed GPS report of arrival times of bus 152 at the intersection of McDowell and Holliday Roads between October 2, 2017-January 22, 2018.
In those 16 weeks, Bus 152 arrived more than 15 minutes late, at least 15 times. Sixteen other days are unaccounted for due to a ”GPS malfunctioning” status. Thirteen times it arrived within five minutes of the 7:18 target arrival time.
“At the end of the day, I just want her to get to school on time,” said Scott. “Because if she can’t get to school on time she miss days. That’s stuff she is missing, lessons that she’s missing and work she got to make up. She’s getting behind missing these days of school,” said Scott.
Since the CBS 6 Problem Solvers started investigating on January 22, Scott says Janiya has not missed any school days because of the bus.
He says it has arrived on time all but one day. That day he says the school system sent a ride for his daughter but that was two hours after the bus should have picked her up.
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