Safe Bus Stops for our children in Grain Valley
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On the first day of kindergarten I walked two 5 year olds 6 houses down a busy street to their bus stop, and waited 15 minutes for the bus. I was mildly concerned that we had not been contacted by the district with a specific pick up or drop off time but I trusted the route start time on their website. The bus showed up, and I said goodbye. At 4 PM I was waiting anxiously at the same stop to see how their first day went but only one of the kiddos appeared when the bus stopped. The driver did not know which child should be getting off, nor did he know a child he picked up that morning was not present. At that time I began frantically looking for the other child when I learned that she had been placed on the wrong bus and driven to her stop that is 7 houses away from her home with her mother at work. She was let off the school bus without an adult present because the surroundings were "familiar" to her, and she was left to her own devices to walk home all alone on her first day of Kindergarten. I am completely amazed that the driver thought this was safe.
On the second day the bus arrived 10 minutes early and the kids met me halfway home from the stop with an adult I have never met. This parent had a child get off at the same stop but because we live so far apart we had never met. I was grateful she offered to walk the kids home and I vowed to always be 15 minutes early from this point forward.
On the third day I was there when the children arrived and I was relieved to see both kids bounce happily off the bus, but they were given no directions or signals from the driver. They were not dropped on the sidewalk side of the street and they immediately darted across the street without looking when they saw me.
Thankfully all of these scenarios ended without harm but it raised a lot of questions for me. After talking to the school, transportation, and the school board I learned the following:
~The district does not require a parent/adult to be at the stop to receive kindergartners. In the case of an unforeseen emergency your children will be let off the bus to fend for themselves. They strongly advise that you be there to get your kids but it is ultimately "not their responsibility", and their obligation ends when the bus arrives to the assigned stop.
~ Some children in the district walk as far as 17 houses to their assigned stop.
~They do not move stops to accommodate any exceptions because that would not be fair to the other children and all stops must only be at cross streets, it does not matter that the stop is on a blind curve.
~The pick up and drop off line is ridiculous at the elementary school, and I am guessing it's because many parents don't feel it is safe to let their kids ride the bus.
I would love to see the district change some of these outdated policies. We no longer live in a time that these are safe practices, and based on many conversations with the district it is clear that the safety of our kiddos is not their top priority. I believe that safety should be more important than fairness every single time, and that safety should be our top priority.
Parents deserve to be contacted by the transportation department before the school year begins to notify them of the pick up and drop off times. Kids deserve to be taken care of in the event that the person who is supposed to pick them up doesn't arrive. What if I was hit by a car on my way to the stop? If I didn't show up to the school as scheduled when they were sick would they leave my kindergartners sitting on the curb alone? No they would not, so how is this different? Kids deserve to have routes made based on where they live, not based on where the convenient cross street is located. It would be nice for the kids to not have to walk much further than the 500ft minimum. Kids also deserve to be signaled across the street by the driver.
I think it's time for parents to band together and say that enough is enough! I know that we won't cause any changes this year as they have made that more than clear, but maybe with enough parents we can force them to do better for our children next year and make safety their top priority!
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