Wake County Schools

Wake superintendent responds to busing complaints

Posted August 28, 2012

— Wake County public schools' Superintendent Tony Tata held a news conference Tuesday to respond to the outcry about back-to-school busing issues.

Wake schools' busing feedback form

New bus routes that made children late to school and home got the start of the traditional calendar school year in Wake County off to a bumpy start on Monday. Parents were still reporting problems on Tuesday.

"I wanted to ensure families that we hear every concern, we're taking every concern seriously and we’re working hard to make things work more smoothly," Tata said. "Today was a marked improvement over yesterday."

"Your child's safety and security are foremost in our minds as we do this," Tata added. "We appreciate the contact and communication, and keep letting us know until we get it right."

More than 900 Wake County school buses transport 75,000 to 80,000 students per day and make about 25,000 stops. Dozens of buses were taken out of service this year to cut costs, maintain efficiency and keep state funding, according to school officials.

"As big as a county that Wake County is and how much we have grown, we do grow to expect this year over year," district spokeswoman Cris Mulder said of the bus problems.

Parents said communication would have made a huge difference. They said the district never alerted them to bus delays and the possibility that they children might be hours late.

Parent: Wake busing 'fundamentally failing these kids' Parent: Wake busing 'fundamentally failing these kids'

Mulder said checking and double-checking each bus takes time. She asked that parents bear with it and said that the situation should improve each day because of the feedback they're providing.

"We are able to monitor and track and find out what buses are making their stops on time," she said.

Parent Neil Gettinger said he had numerous problems getting his three children to and from their schools. The two buses did not show up for his middle-schooler and two high-schoolers Monday morning.

On Tuesday morning, the middle school bus was 30 minutes late, and the high school bus drove right past the bus stop, he said.

"We’re fundamentally failing these kids if we can’t get them to the school," Gettinger said. "I think the system’s really big and, as a parent, we don’t understand all the intricacies of it, but we don’t care, we need our kids going to school."

118 Comments

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  • frsandi Sep 6, 6:42 p.m.

    This is just the bus system. This doesn't even tough the drama parents, I included, have gone through with the choice program. Traditional calendar, modified calendar, year-round calendar with 4 tracks...what in the world? They put my older daughter in a traditional school that wasn't even on her list and my other on a totally different yr round school. You have to go to Cary to do anything now and wait with the massive amount of parents for 3 hours for them to explain why they need to bus your child over 40 miles away. I have heard countless stories of wake county sending children miles and miles away to school and then you add the bus debacle on top of it. I don't care what anyone says. This is a complete and utter mess from A to Z.

  • frsandi Sep 6, 6:34 p.m.

    Some people think we should not be upset and that this happens every year. I have lived in NC for 7 months and it has been pure nightmarish with Wake County school system. This bus fiasco is just more icing on the cake. A lot of parents rely on their older children to pick up the younger ones so yes it is a HUGE deal when buses are hours late. I have lived in states all over the US and I HAVE NEVER EVER EVER seen a school system or bus system with this many problems. Just because you are accustomed to it does not mean we shouldn't be screaming for something to be done about it. Complacency is why things don't change. To find out that the problems have been going on for years is shocking. Bus drivers are saying this is the worst it's ever been. What happens to a problem when it is not addressed? It's just grown into a bigger problem and now here we are. Maybe if Wake County had done something about it yrs ago we wouldn't be at this tragedy now. I feel for anyone dealing with this stress

  • frsandi Sep 6, 6:28 p.m.

    http://www.wral.com/news/education/wake_county_schools/story/11510198/

    I'm the mother of this child in the linked story. I don't know who made a comment that this is not a big deal and to wait for them to work out the kinks. This is a HUGE deal because this involves OUR CHILDREN! These are not isolated incidents. We have parents holding on to their jobs with both hands and having to leave work to go find their children. There is ABSOLUTELY NO COMMUNICATION from the bus system on delays. You can't get through and when you do they are no help.

    Yes we need to rally, picket, do whatever we have to. WE are the majority! Our tax dollars support the school system. We should not be told by Wake County that we have to deal with this kind of system breakdown and they seem helpless to have any control over it at all. I feel like they've tied their hands and in doing so have tied our hands as parents as well.

    I reiterate that these are our CHILDREN who are under the care of competent adults.

  • bawilliams816 Aug 29, 5:24 p.m.

    LoL hours late to and from school... thats a mess. if you feel like this behavior is OK in any instance.. your parenting card needs to be pulled.
    Lets put things in a different perspective... if you drove your kids to and from school and you were late dropping them off, the child would be penalized.. and late picking them up, you would be penalized (some schools charge by the minute/hour for late-pick -ups)
    Parents i beg you to continue to complain about this as someone has to care about these kids... and now-a-days most people don't.. including Teachers, principals, and BUS DRIVERS

  • ncpilot2 Aug 29, 3:14 p.m.

    Those of you who do not want to hold the school officials accountable for incredibly poor planning concern me. Yes, new procedures are expected to have a FEW glitches, but this is a system-wide breakdown and that is poor leadership.

    It's not like the management of the school bus system did not know what roads they would be traveling on or not have access to a database where parents had already informed the system of whether their children would be using the buses or not.

    Public school systems across the state are not improving, they are deteriorating and yet hide behind skewed numbers of so-called improvement within their schools.

    This bus fiasco is just another example of poor management and a reason why it is becoming increasing difficult for a parent to trust the system to give our children a good education. If they can't get this right, what else are they inept at doing.

  • esource3 Aug 29, 1:53 p.m.

    As a parent of a 6 year old being transported via Wake School Bus this is a major problem!
    3 Facts:
    1. There is little communication by the Bus Drivers to the Dept. of Transportation while in route.
    2. Many School Bus drivers have no GPS or Map systems giving them direction. In fact, several children are telling the Bus drivers directions on where to turn.
    3. No relay is being communicated as to the whereabouts your child is. So our child sat on a School Bus for over 1 1/2 hours (for a 20 minute trip). And today the Driver "didn't see us" missed our stop: both parent and child emotionally exhausted instead of being excited to start a new school year.
    Both parents have used the school bus and this is the first time we ever called the Transportation Dept to file a complaint. We implore the Dept. to use efficiency measures:1. Install GPS systems in the Buses 2. Communicate directly between the Driver and the DOT while in route 3. Communicate with parents who are anxiously waiting.

  • dawgpaw4 Aug 29, 1:42 p.m.

    It is the first few days of school, so relax, the Wake County Schools and officials and "most" parents know it takes the first couple of weeks to get the routines running smoothly for the rest of the year, not just bus schedules, but classrooms too. There will be times that you need to address things, but like anything new, whether new job, new car, new whatever... you have to work the "kinks" out, figure out what works and go from there. So again, HUSH, RELAX, BUT KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE SITUATION!

  • MyOwnTwoCents Aug 29, 1:03 p.m.

    I think Wake County parents should hold a rally! Enough is enough! This new plan is interfering with my childrens education.

  • Deb1003 Aug 29, 12:25 p.m.

    I wasn't happy w/ Wake transportation 7yrs ago. That's when I got into a carpool w/ a neighbor to take our boys to school. We continued to drive them until their junior yr. At that point, they were driving themselves or riding w/ others. This transportation dilemma didn't start this year, it's been going on for at least 10 yrs.

  • crckttsgr Aug 29, 12:17 p.m.

    I get the feeling that most of the parents complaining, did not grow up and go to school here. If so, they would know that the 1st week of school NEVER goes smoothly. Buses were late or no shows, 30 yrs ago when I was in school. This isn't a surprise. Aggravating, yes, but not earth shattering. The real uproar should be over the little kids that get dropped off somewhere they shouldn't and have no one waiting for them. Now THAT is something to get upset over....but not late buses. It's a pain, yes, but it happens e v e r y year.

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