Parents say inconsistent bus pickups in Caddo making students late to school

School district’s transportation director responds to parents’ concerns
(KSLA)
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT
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AUG. 11 VIDEO UPDATE: Jeff Roberts, Caddo School District’s transportation director, discusses parents concerns, bus driver shortage and supply chain issues ►

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CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Some parents in Caddo Parish say they’re having issues with school buses and scheduling.

They claim the bus is on time some days, but late on other days by 15 minutes to even an hour.

Parents of Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School students are taking matters into their own hands with what they say is inconsistent scheduling.

“It’s an inconvenience to us when parents like us have lives. I start clinicals, I can’t do this every day, taking kids back and forth to school every day,” Shannon Dunn said. “If I’m paying taxes, then why should I be paying for an inconvenience when they had three months to find a driver?”

Dunn said when her daughter’s bus is late, it usually means she’s also late for school.

“The second day, I had to reach out to them regarding a tardy because I brought the kids and they were a little bit tardy to class. I called them and I said, ‘Hey, just letting you know I brought a busload of kids in my car. Please don’t mark them late because we were waiting on a late bus.’ They said the bus was coming, but they wouldn’t mark the kids tardy but if I could take the kids every day until they found a driver that would be great. But I said starting this week I couldn’t do it anymore,” she said.

Cynthia Carroll reached out to Caddo Parish Schools’ Transportation Department about the fluctuating pickup times. They explained the reason, which also had to do with a situation this week.

”As far as us being able to keep a driver over there on that route, I know that a lot of it has to do with behavior. The students are late because we don’t have a permanent driver for that route and we’re at the mercy of our other drivers to help us cover those routes,” the department said.

However, Carroll said, that’s not a sufficient enough reason for the delays.

“With transportation, I understand the behavior of the children. That’s why you go through training to learn how to deal with the children on the bus.”

KSLA News 12 reached out to Caddo Parish Public Schools regarding the parents’ concerns. The district provided this statement:

“At Caddo Schools, our bus drivers are one of our biggest assets in the district. They are the first employees to greet our children in the morning and the last to see them after school. Our district, like many others across the country, faces a shortage of drivers. We actively recruit and offer monetary incentives to attract qualified candidates. We know that sometimes though, it’s not enough and drivers have to double up on unfilled routes, which may cause delayed pickup or dropoff times. It is our goal to get our children safely to and from school, and we ask that parents be patient with all school bus drivers as we do our part to continue providing this service daily to families across the parish.”

Caddo Parish Board’s Transportation Department reached out to KSLA News 12 to respond to the parent’s concerns.

“We were late that day. That was 8:08 am. School starts at 8 that’s on us, but that was day one. Day two, we improved, we were there at 7:55 am. Day three, we were there at 7:55 am, still we need to get a little better. By Monday we were on that site at 7:39 am. Those students were in school on time. Tuesday, 7:40 am. They were in school on time. So, where this parent is coming up with the idea that she has a problem. I’m not real sure, cause there’s really not a problem. We’re arriving on time, we’re getting kids to school on time and this is a coverage bus. Now, the problem occurred Tuesday when a student decided to verbally accost the driver of the bus. Therefore, that driver does not have to run this route because it’s not her route she’s doing it out of the kindness of her heart,” said Jeff Roberts, Director, Caddo Parish School Board Transportation Department.

For now, Carroll and Dunn say they have no other choice but to take their children to school themselves if the pickup inconsistencies continue.

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