Parents list bus complaints in document and deliver to Baltimore Co. Board of Education

TOWSON, Md. (WMAR) - Parents in Baltimore County will be notifying the Board of Education about a number of transportation issues at a meeting Tuesday night.

More than 60 complaints have been documented in an online spreadsheet. The incidents include buses showing up late, early, there's also been confusion about pick-up times, a lack of communication between the school system, the bus drivers, parents, and overcrowding remains a problem.

A Facebook video posted in the group "BCPS Transportation Advocacy" shows several kids standing in the aisle of a moving bus.

The video, among other posts, are being shared by parents wanting to see a change, especially when it comes to their kid's safety.

“Last Wednesday, on the second day of school, my son's bus didn't show up and he caught another bus by accident,” said Melissa McClellan, whose son attends Parkville Middle School.

McClellan said her 7th grader was dropped off on the side of the road.

“We couldn't get through to the school, we couldn't get through to two transportation numbers. We ended up calling the police and a friend and the police had found my child,” she said.

Another time, the bus never showed. She contacted the school but said she's still waiting to see changes.

Baltimore County Board of Education member Julie Henn has been following transportation issues closely for the last several years.

She said it usually takes a week or two for the kinks to work themselves out but this year is different.

“This year, there's particularly serious concerns regarding reliability, regarding communication, regarding efficiency, long ride times, regarding capacity, which remains to be an issue,” said Henn.

She added that the issues are systemic and process-related and do not reflect on the hard working employees and contractors of the system.

"Every student deserves safe, reliable and efficient transportation. Parents have to be able to rely on the system to transport their children safely every day.  Bus overcrowding, communication issues, missed pickups - these are all issues that can and need to be addressed," said Henn.

Henn also requested a special meeting for public input on transportation. In a Facebook post, she wrote that her request was denied by the Board Chair. ABC2 reached out to Board Chair Edward Gilliss but did not hear back.

Henn is hoping the turn-out at Tuesday’s meeting will help convince other Board members to hold a special meeting.

“So, I want to make sure parents are getting the support they need. When there's a problem, they should be able to contact one person, find out where their student is, what's the status of the bus and be able to get the answers that they need and that hasn't been happening,” Henn said.

She also said Baltimore County Public Schools staff have been responding to each parent’s complaint individually. 

UPDATE: On Wednesday, a spokesperson with Baltimore County Public Schools sent ABC2 the statement below:

“Our dedicated team of bus drivers transports more than 70,000 students to and from school each day. We know that there are going to be some areas for improvement in the early weeks of a school year – with some new drivers, new bus routes, and new students. We are addressing issues as they arise and remain committed to student safety first and foremost.”
 

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