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Young students to get ID badges for bus boarding

All Wake County kindergartners and first-graders will get an identification card on the first day of school to help bus drivers make sure the right students get on and off the right buses at the right stops.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thousand of students will be boarding yellow buses Monday as traditional-calendar schools in Wake County start classes.

After a couple of problems with young students and their routes, school officials are trying to reassure parents that riding the bus is safe.

One change made by school officials is that all kindergartners and first-graders will get an identification card on the first day of school that they will wear for the first few weeks. It will have the school's name, student's name, bus stop location and route printed on it.

“We're looking forward to the start of another great traditional year,” Don Haydon, the school district's chief facilities and operations officer, said Thursday.

On the minds of drivers and administrators are two unfortunate incidents over the summer with year-round students. A 5-year-old was dropped off at a bus stop miles from home, and a 6-year-old was dropped off at the wrong time – far from his home.

One bus driver resigned and the other was disciplined. In response to the incidents, every bus driver attended a training session over the summer. It re-emphasized the procedures and practices for picking-up and dropping-off students.

“We reinforced the policy. We don't anticipate a repeat of the problem,” Hayden said.

Bus drivers say the ID badges will help reduce confusion, which can occur with almost 900 school buses making 25,000 stops to pick up nearly 70,000 students.

“I don't think we'll have any more incidents like that. With the ID badge, I think it will be real good,” bus driver Gloria Watson said.

If during the route a bus driver realizes one of the students is on the wrong bus, policy states that student must be brought back to school to be dealt with there.

If a parent is not at the stop to pick up a kindergartner or first-grader, that student will remain on the bus.