In order to more closely follow Delaware Department of Education Bus Eligibility Policy, Milford School District Transportation Department notified bus contractors last week that students with parking passes were no longer eligible for bus transportation. According to Kyle Moore, Transportation Specialist with Milford, the policy has been in effect for a few years but the district has only recently decided to enforce it.
“In an effort to lighten loads on high school buses, the district decided to begin enforcing the board policy,” Kyle Moore explained. Letters were sent home with the students affected by the policy implementation, and wording was added to the parking permit permission form that every student and parent must sign.”
The Milford School District Board of Education will offer, to each parent or guardian of a student within the district who is licensed to drive a motor vehicle, a choice between driving a private vehicle to the school and transportation to the school by the school bus. Those that choose to drive a private vehicle shall not be transported by a school bus, and those who choose to be transported by a school bus shall not be permitted to park on school grounds.
The principal of each school may issue passes for school bus transportation to certain pupils who have chosen to drive a private vehicle, for use on a temporary and emergency basis and the principal may also set aside a specific number of parking spaces for use on a temporary and emergency basis by pupils who originally chose transportation by school bus.
Bus contractors who received names of students to remove from bus rosters have concerns about the policy. Although most students who drive to school never have a need for bus transportation, there is a small percentage that either does not drive every day, has a need for transportation in case of inclement weather or whose parents take driving privileges away as punishment, requiring the student to need transportation on occasion.
“If a child loses driving privileges over a weekend, or if it snows on Sunday evening, how is a parent going to get their child back on the bus for Monday morning?” Neil Moore, owner of D&N Bus Service asked. “I often have parents contact me on Sunday evening to let me know their high school student will be on the bus on Monday, whether it is because of a vehicle breakdown, bad weather or simply because the kid messed up over the weekend. Now, because I have been instructed to remove these students from my bus roster, I cannot legally pick them up based on my insurance requirements.” Moore continued that he was concerned that the building principal would be unaware of how many students were on a bus, thereby assigning a student to an already overcrowded bus, or be unable to accurately assign the right bus to the student.
“If parents want to re-establish bus transportation, they simply visit the Transportation Office and complete the required paperwork,” Kyle Moore stated. The Transportation Specialist admitted that it could take up to three days for the change to be implemented, although there are exceptions, such as students assigned to group stops, and was unclear how a parent could get a high school student back on the bus quickly in an emergency situation.
Bus contractors agree with that assessment, as Neil Moore explains, “Parents rely on bus transportation as a back-up plan to driving more than a lot of people realize, and this is especially true now with the late start at Milford High School. Most parents must be at work before school begins, making it harder for them to transport the student should personal transportation not be an option. This policy creates a significant hardship for parents.”
Transportation Specialist of Milford School District Kyle Moore indicated that any parent with questions regarding implementation of the policy could contact his office. He did state that the policy was clear that if students had a parking permit, they would no longer be provided busing based on this policy.