Issues with Muskogee Public School buses leave parents upset

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 19:24:49-04

MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- Muskogee Public Schools is working to resolve problems with the buses in their district.

Susan Richardson said her daughter has had few pleasant experiences since the school year started last Thursday.

Richardson said her daughter told her the buses are overcrowded.

“There are children that have been having to sit on the floor,” Richardson said. “She normally would get home at 3:15 p.m. The first day she didn’t get home until after 4 p.m. Maybe 4:20 p.m. or 4:25 p.m.”

Jennifer Castellanos said her elementary age son has been denied access to the bus every day since school started. She was told he was not on the list of riders.

“Although I’ve received four, maybe five phone calls stating he’s supposed to be picked up by one bus,” Castellanos said. “Another phone call saying another bus. Another phone call saying a third bus, so he’s obviously in the system.”

Castellanos said she drove around Tuesday morning looking for another bus to take her son to school. She saw other elementary-aged students standing alone on the street corner. When she asked what they were doing, the children told her their buses were late or they were not allowed to get on the bus.

“You don’t want predators to see these children on the corner and say ’That’s slim pickings right there. We can grab them,’” Castellanos said.

The district said it has to do with budget cuts from the state and a software system they are implementing.

The new software is supposed to make routes more efficient to save money in the long run for the district. Right now, it has glitches that Superintendent Mike Garde say are causing problems for pick ups and drop offs.

“Just assure the parents that we are here to serve them and be patient with us,” Garde said. “We do want this to work out as smoothly as possible and as quickly as possible. Just bear with us.”

According to the superintendent, the school district had to eliminate some of the routes they had last year. Also, they do not have enough bus drivers, so administrators are driving buses in the meantime.

Garde said they are also enforcing rules this year, such as in district transfers having to provide their own transportation to the school.

Parents are still concerned. 

“I understand, like you said, there are budget cuts statewide,” Richardson said. “We are all are of that, but at the end of the day, it comes down to a liability issue. It comes down to safety first and that should be the main concern of Muskogee Public School District is ensuring the safety of every student.”

Garde said they are aiming to have all the issues worked out by the end of the week.

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