NEW: Providence Parents Claim Bus Lacked Monitor
Sunday, September 22, 2013
A newly formed "Providence Parents Concerned About Busing" Facebook group, which was created on Wednesday following a community forum held the Jewish Community Center on Tuesday night to discuss city busing issues, had several posts on Friday and over the weekend from parents who were concerned about the lack of bus monitor on at least one bus.
One group member provided an update that reportedly came from the head of the Henry Barnard School, as follows: "Dr. Lou, HBS Principal: "Last minute bus update at 2:42pm, Friday. Bus 121 was driven by its regular driver, and had a monitor as well as someone from the city on it to make sure all was well. Bus 62 had not monitor, but was on time leaving. Bus 66 arrived fifteen minutes after dismissal, and had no monitor."
Issues of Legality Surfaces in Light of Reports of Lack of Monitor
Discussion ensued among group members as to whether it was illegal or not to not have a bus monitor on a school bus.
However, one group member said upon reaching out to the school transportation supervisor Kathy Hackett, that she told the following:
"I spoke with Kathy Hackett who said she is furious that there was no one on Bus 62 today since she has plenty of monitors. She is headed to the bus yard when she leaves PPSD today to find out why. However, she told me that it is NOT a legal requirement that there be a monitor on every bus because they (PPSD) can ask for a variance any time they want or think they need one!"
A group member then provided this on variances.
"Variances to the requirement for a school bus monitor may be granted by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education if he or she finds that an alternative plan provides substantially equivalent safety for children." So a variance would have to have come from @deborah gist, who would have had to make sure a viable alternative was in place."
However, the question then arose as to whether monitors were First Student employees -- or school department -- to which a group member posed:
"To be clear: bus drivers are First Student employees; bus monitors are school department employees. Whatever First Student's failings are, not hiring enough monitors isn't one of them - that's not in their contract."
Finally, another poster commented on the variance scenario: "I just got off the phone with Cindy Brown at RIDE re Bus Monitor Variances.... we can request to see in PPSD has a variance. If they do not, they are in violation on the Bus Monitor Requirement. If they do and they are not meeting specific requirements, 1) Door-to-door service 2) Zone pick-up, than they are out of compliance. I will take it upon myself to submit a request to see if the City has a variance."
Group Formed to Air Concerns
The Facebook group according to Wiedner-Greene, is a way for parents to share information -- and bring others into the conversation.
"We are using social media and our facebook page to bring together parents from every neighborhood of the city to collect relevant and real-time information about the current negligent state of affairs.," she continued. "As we dig deeper, the issue becomes more complex, however, we are going to continue to push until we achieve transparency as well as a true commitment and response from PPSD and the Mayor's office."
On the Facebook page, group's description is stated as, "This is a group of concerned parents who have gathered to express their urgent concern for the safety and well-being of their children on school busses in Providence, RI."
Parents besides those with children at Henry Barnard have taken to the page, including one parent who has a child in a wheel chair provided the following entry:
"My daughter is on 35 for the kids in wheelchairs and other needs. Since the school year has begun she has had four different drivers(two in one day) and three different monitors. They don't know her, they don't know the route and I've been told by one if the children's CCWs on the bus that the drivers and monitors were not experienced in locking the brakes on wheelchairs nor did they lock the wheels into place on the bus. I will add that most if the children on this bus are unable to speak or unable to speak and be heard or understood. I have notified the director if Special Ed, her assistant, HER assistant and the principle and superintendent.
Sadly, I'm ready to move out if Providence because there are too many issues/layers to the problems at PPSD. Ugh. Excuse typos. I'm upset."
Next Public Meeting Monday Night
Announced on the page is a meeting before the school board on Monday.
"There is a Providence Public School Board meeting this Monday, September 23 at 6:30 pm on the 3rd floor of the Providence School Department’s administration building at 797 Westminster Street, Providence, RI. I highly encourage people to go to this and continue to make their voices heard."
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