A four-year-old boy was dropped off in front of his house in Nacogdoches on the first day of school, but nobody was home at the time. Also, a kindergartener was mistakenly put on the wrong bus. These are the kind of problems Southwest Transportation is trying to resolve in Nacogdoches.
Tyronza Hodge planned to get back early to greet her son home from his first day at school. When she drove up ten minutes before the bus was expected, she found the boy standing alone outside. Hodge believes the bus driver should have kept her child on the bus for his safety.
"The only thing I wanted to know was why my child was left here without adult supervision, and he should have been took [sic] back to the bus barn for me to pick him up if there was nobody here," said Hodge.
The driver saw the child's seven-year-old brother down the street at a neighbor's and assumed it was all right to drop him off. Yet, the policy is for bus drivers to honk the horn when an adult isn't outside. If no one comes, they are told to keep the child on the bus.
Confusion with transportation during the first week of school is fairly common. The problems can be very serious and very frightening for the families involved. Transportation officials are busy making changes so these problems won't happen again.
This means it takes a little longer than usual to board Nacogdoches elementary school children. Bus drivers stop each child before they board and check an ID pinned to their top. "Where [do] you live? Okay. Go ahead," said one driver after checking a little girl's address. All this checking comes after a school was given the wrong bus number for a child.
Damage control began immediately. Brooks-Quinn-Jones Principal Rachel Johnson gathered all her teachers in a conference room. "Southwest Transportation is here with us, and they're going to go over if we have any questions about addresses to answer any questions," explained Johnson.
Corporate leaders regretted the mistakes but, in the scheme of things, company leaders say their goal was reached the first day of school. Southwest Transportation President David White said, "When you look at the overall thing, 3,000 kids came here, 3,000 kids were delivered home safely that day. Was there some confusion? With registration the way it is, you can understand why."
There's no pre-registration of bus riders. White says children will show up unexpectedly for at least a couple of more weeks until the lists are nailed down. Delivery schedules still remain confusing.
Lots of cross referencing of master lists may solve the problems temporarily, but the company's local director, Loy Walker, would like to see more permanent solutions. "We need some policies and procedures that would be inclusive of the parents. Maybe, before school starts, in riding the bus. Maybe consider pre-registration," he said.
In the meantime, drivers are told to be extra careful about where they take their little passengers. A bus driver made a final check by asking the kids themselves. "Listen up, you guys. Is everybody on the right bus.?" They all yelled, "Yeah!!"