Parents Say Overcrowded School Buses Unsafe, Students Sitting on Each Other’s Laps and Floor
HERNANDO – Overcrowded school buses have some parents worried for their children’s safety but school officials say funding is the problem.
Nicki Highley contacted RNRF on Tuesday, after her son, a student at Central High School, was forced to sit on the school bus floor during the route to and from home.
Highley sent photographs of her son sitting against the emergency exit on bus route 19 and says there are between 3 to 5 students in every seat – some sitting in each other’s laps, and others on the floor.
Highley says she spoke to someone at Hernando County Transportation, who told her “we are trying to fix the problem,” but so far nothing has been done.
Ronnie Kaye says his children ride Central High School’s bus route 12 and claims they also sit 4 to a seat, and in each other’s laps. Kaye says after several attempts to speak with someone with Hernando County Transportation, a supervisor finally called him on Monday and stated that the buses are not overcrowded. According to Kaye, the supervisor said he would check surveillance video to confirm how many students were on the bus. Kaye says when he received a follow up reply from the supervisor, he was told, “The cameras weren’t working on those days.” According to District policy, school bus video cannot be released without a court order.
Kaye believes the overcrowding is unsafe and unhealthy for the students but he also voiced concerns for the drivers who have to deal with students fighting over seats.
We spoke with Hernando County School spokesperson, Karen Jordan, about the one of the overcrowded buses and she said, “…Route 12 holds 84 students and over the course of last week, there were between 65 and 70 students on the bus.” Jordan assured parents that bus rider numbers would stabilize in the next few days and routes would be adjusted to ease the situation. Jordan added that law allows up to 3 students per seat, regardless of age. She also advised that the Hernando County School District has lobbied to increase funding for transportation that would reduce the number of students to 2 per seat. Jordan provide a 2017 Legislation Platform & Priorities document that outlines critical needs within the district – school bus seating is listed as one of critical needs.
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