District Bus with Sped Preschoolers Hits a Car

First Nutrition services and now (still) Transportation.  I cannot imagine the fear that both kids and parents felt about this situation.  The district must do better.

From the Seattle Times:
When Erin Fish got a call from Seattle Public Schools this week notifying her that the bus carrying her 4-year-old to preschool had been in an accident, she’d already begun running through a list of worries. The call came late — 20 minutes after her neighbor, Kennedy Leavens, had already informed her.

Hearing the voice on the other end confirm that her son was OK brought little comfort. Declan has twice been diagnosed with brain cancer  — first when he was just four months shy of his second birthday. He’s undergone eight surgeries since.

She’d had a nagging feeling about the bus driver who was temporarily covering her son’s route that morning. She arrived an hour late, Fish said, and was driving erratically.

The bus carrying their kids struck a car as it tried to merge onto Interstate 5, the mothers told The Seattle Times. Morning traffic meant the cars weren’t going very fast; pictures Leavens took from the shoulder of the freeway, where the bus pulled over, showed the other car with noticeable but not critical damage.

Leavens was also tipped off about the accident before the district called her. She called the preschool to make sure her son had arrived, and the school told her about the accident. She says the district didn’t contact her until an hour later.
Both mothers said they noticed something was off about the driver, who has since been fired, according to the district. After showing up an hour late for their typical 8 a.m. pickup, they say, the driver drove erratically. Leavens said she saw the bus driver pull into a busy street, start to make a right turn, stop suddenly, then turn left. Fish said the driver drove past her and her son as they were waiting out in the street several times. Leavens confirmed that account.
About the district and First Student:
Though parents are reporting more consistent bus service in the last year, there have still been patches of hourslong delays since the start of school. Tracking them is difficult; the district’s web page showing delayed buses isn’t always up to date. But even the limited information on the site shows days where more than a dozen routes have been up to two hours late.

The district says the bargaining agreement between First Student and Teamsters Local 174, the drivers’ union, doesn’t require that drivers pick and stick to a particular route; they can choose to become a “cover driver” and fill in for unassigned or absent drivers instead.

“Unfortunately, routes without permanent drivers may experience delays,” said an emailed statement from the district.
This inconsistency hits kids with significant cognitive and physical disabilities and their families the hardest, for logistical and emotional reasons. Temporary drivers taking on a special-education routes are expected to adapt to both new geography and students with significant needs.


Anonymous said…
On Thursday afternoon I was slowing down to try to find a parking spot on Stone Way and a southbound school bus (with kids on) came right up behind me, got impatient because I was going too slow and got right up my rear and honked the horn aggressively. Gave me a bit of a fright to be honest. I certainly got out of their way pretty quick. I admit I was crawling and I know it's annoying when you're trying to get somewhere and other drivers are holding you up - but if you're driving a school bus perhaps you should exercise a modicum of patience and try to set a good example rather than getting all road-ragey at the slightest hold up.

Anonymous said…
The other day I had to give driving directions to the substitute driver covering my student's route. The driver was new to seattle and unfamiliar with it and did not know where the school was. This should not be happening. At least give a map to every driver. I had to drive for more than a week at the beginning of school because the bus did not show up. The issues with First Student are, as you note, NOT all resolved.
e-m mom
Jet City mom said…
Students, most critically students with special needs are detrimentally impacted when inconsistent transportation begins their school day.

They can’t just “ shake it off”.
My daughter was arriving late to school, and that pretty much blew her whole morning, let alone the noise level and being harassed by other children.
Anonymous said…
Both our kids have been in buses that hit cars. Very glad to have made it to the Metro bus stage with the youngest.

Three more years

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