Friday, October 12, 2007

School Bus Drama

I have finally calmed down enough to write about this, but I am still a little upset. Here is what "went down" today.

Friday is a short day at our school and school lets out at 1:50 pm and I usually see my kids come in the door at around 2:15 pm. Sometimes because of situations at the school, the bus is a little later, but in the 2 years 1 1/2 months my kids have been at this school, on this bus, I have never seen them later than 2:30 pm and that happened once.

Anyway, by 2:30 pm, the bus has not come and I start to get a little worried. Not too worried but worried, so I start to call several of the other moms in the neighborhood and ask them if they know what is going on. None of my friends answer, which surprises me and I start to get that really sick feeling in my stomach. So, then, I try calling the school and NO ANSWER! It is now 2:45 (almost a full hour since school has let out) and my breathing starts to get short, and I don't know if it is better to get in the car and drive up to the school and risk missing my kids getting home, or just stay home and wait. Since no one is answering, I am imagining a school lock down situation. I am imagining kids getting shot. I am imagining every BAD scenario. Then, a neighbor, who has kids at the same school, quickly drives by my house and I run in front of her car and ask, "Have you heard anything about our kids?" She looks at me surprised and says very innocently, "Oh, didn't you get a phone call? Their bus broke down and you are supposed to go up to the school and get your kids. If I had known, I would have brought your kids with me." First of all I am mad because no, I didn't get a call from the school. Second, why didn't this neighbor call me when she got the phone call? Third, if she had my kids, that is a major breach in the whole school security system because she is not on my list of approved people to take my kids from school. I should mention, that I my cell phone and home phone available the whole time.

So, I throw my two youngest in the car and head up to the school but stop when I see other kids from our neighborhood getting off of the "upper bus stop", several of them crying and several of my friends who I had tried to call, standing at that bus stop. The other kids said my kids were getting off at the lower bus stop. It has now been an hour and five minutes since school got out. I drive down there, pick up my kids and then drive back up to the upper bus stop to talk to my friends and figure out what happened.

Later, after calling the school and finally getting someone to pick up, we learned that the bus had broken down at the school. They never let the kids on the bus and sent them over to the playground to play and only let four kids in the school at a time to call their parents. However, not all of the kids knew they could call their parents (my kids included) so, there was a lot of confusion. My kids told me they thought they just had to wait at school until I showed up or the bus was fixed. No one told them they could call me. The school never did give me a good answer as to why they were not answering the incoming line when I tried calling. The bus was then fixed and they sent the kids whose parents had not shown up to the school on the bus home. The crying kids were really scared why some parents came up to get them and why some didn't. It was mess and let me tell you, as parents we were all very upset, with the exception of the one parent who did get the phone call but who didn't bother to pass on what was going on to the rest of us in the neighborhood. (Several of us said, "If I had gotten a call, I would have started calling everyone from my cell phone while driving up to get my own child.) Aghh!

My solution? The school should have the e-mail addresses of the parents in the system by bus number. I know there are ways to create a list of addresses and all they would have to do is send out one mass e-mail to that buses e-mail list and inform the parents of what is going on. As parents, we would know to check out e-mail if the bus was running late and then we wouldn't have to bother calling the school and we would know what was going on. No more panic and we would be informed. Easy, cheap solution.


Melinda said...

Oh, I hate the bus with a white-hot passion. But my reliance on it is unavoidable. My semi-solution: the number for the bus dept at the district is in my cell phone (they know what is really going on -- the school rarely has any idea about the buses) and if the bus is more than 5 minutes late I call and get the scoop. Ask for the dispatcher for your quadrant (I'm "west base", and she'll radio the driver for the info. By the way -- the five minute rule is what the dispatcher told me to do.

love.boxes said...

I'm so sorry that happened. I would have been out of my mind with all that time passing. Once they had an emergency drill and I didn't get called by anyone and when I got to the school little c was so upset and said that she thought I wasn't coming.

michelle said...

I would have been out for blood! I know people are only human, but these are our most precious kids! I am glad you got some response from your principal though. Hope your bus expereience gets better!

sara said...


i have a real love/hate relationship with the bus, i must admit. i never rode one growing up and wish we lived close enough to walk. i'm so sorry you were so stressed out!