Parents Say Overcrowded School Buses are Unsafe, District Blames State Law
HERNANDO – Within the first few weeks of the 2017 school year, RNRF received numerous complaints of overcrowded school buses in Hernando County. Students of all ages were being forced to sit 3 to a seat or in the floor, in many cases, but school officials say because state law allows it, their hands are tied.
Today, RNRF received another rash of complaints from concerned parents, so we contacted the Hernando County School District to see what, if anything, is being done to alleviate the problem. According to HCSD Spokesperson Karen Jordan, the District hired 16 new drivers and 12 new bus attendants this year. I asked Jordan if the new employees would be help create additional routes, and she said, “Those were open positions from retirements, etc.” With 35 operational buses in surplus, I asked Jordan if the push for additional drivers would continue or if budget constraints are preventing new positions. I have not heard back from Jordan on my follow up question.
I reached out to School Board members, but the only response we received was from Susan Duval. “These are Middle and High School students,” says Duval. “The state needs to take the size of students into consideration and change the law,” she continued. I asked Duval if there was a hiring cap on new bus drivers and she said, “Not at all.” Duval said she would be speaking to the District about parent’s concerns.
Kelly Fernandez’ daughter attends Fox Chapel Middle School and says, “They have 3 kids to a seat but the 3rd is barely a seat at all.”
For the second time this year, Greg Launier contacted RNRF to complain about his daughter who rides on an overcrowded school buse. “Something MUST be done!!!,” Says Launier on a Facebook post. “. . .My daughter who attends Central High is forced to stand or sit on the bus floor because there are no seats. This has been an ongoing this this whole year. I have tried several times to contact DOT, but only get voice mails and no return calls. This is a very dangerous situation, and our children should be treated better, and not like herds of cattle.”
Jordan says, “If overcrowding is reported to the Transportation Dept. routes are often adjusted to ease that crowding.”
We will update this story if new information develops.
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