CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The school-year did not start off right for some parents in North Caddo Parish after finding out their kids were left behind at school due to bus problems.
Those parents let their concerns be heard in front of the school board on Tuesday night.
Parents with children at Herndon Magnet said they received a text from the principal that said students may or may not make it on the bus to go to their after-school daycare at Trinity Heights or St. Pious X Catholic Church depending on how crowded the bus would be. It alarmed working parents, especially when nine kids were left behind on Monday.
“I’m here today to bring to light the injustice that is going on in North Caddo Parish. Not only do we have buses without AC in 110 degree weather, but we have children being line up after school to see if they’re going to make the cut to get on a bus,” said Danielle Handrop, parent of kindergartener at Herndon Magnet. She addressed the school board on behalf of parents at Herndon Magnet after they found out their kids may not be taken as normally to their after school daycare and left to wait outside in the heat.
“For those members of the board who are not aware on August 13th, two days before my kindergartener’s first day of school I received a text message that my child may or may have transportation to Trinity Heights daycare after school,” Handrop said.
The parent were upset to find out nine children were left on Monday at Herndon Magnet and the principal and teachers had to drive them to Trinity Heights with parents permission.
“This came as a shock to parents because Caddo Parish school buses have been transporting students to after school daycare for ten years or more,” Handrop said.
Those parents voiced their concerns to school officials outside the board room and told them they often feel forgotten about being so north in the parish. Also telling the school officials that other magnet schools in the inner city have buses that take students to after-school day cares and Trinity Heights has been doing so for years now.
“When my six-year-old does get on the bus and doesn’t get left at Herndon she sits four to a seat. Four! That is not okay,” said one parent.
The Caddo Parish Transportation Director Bruce Daigle said the district is short nine bus drivers, something they plan to alleviate by next week with six new bus drivers starting.
“We want every kid to get to school safely and get home safely. That’s our main goal. It may not be perfect right now because it’s so hot nobody wants to be out in the heat. If they have to wait at a bus stop or walk that’s another issue. So we talked today about getting water on the buses for the kids. We’re doing everything we can and I think it will get better once we get the new buses, get a few more drivers,” Daigle said.
They left the meeting a temporary solution that will have a bus driver who works at Trinity Heights make a double-route to pick up the kids who could not fit on the first trip. While Daigle told them the long term solution will come by October when the district will roll out their new buses that are larger with air conditioning.
“I look forward to the school board’s solution in October and of course if it doesn’t come we’ll hold them accountable,” Handrop said.
Daigle said they do need bus drivers badly and their goal is to cover the 280 routes in the parish with 30 substitute bus drivers.