Bus issues continue to plague Summit Academy schools in Columbus well into the new school year

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Some students at a charter school in Columbus are still waiting to be assigned a bus to take them to and from school nearly seven weeks into the new school year, while other students’ buses are no longer available. not reliable.

Staff and parents at Summit Academy schools in southeast Columbus are demanding answers after about a third of their students often wait at the bus stop.

Shawna Blake has three daughters who attend Summit Academy schools that rely on buses provided by Columbus City schools for transportation, but she said the buses this school year were anything but reliable.

“One of my students should have had an acquired route and they don’t want to take her most mornings, but they’ll take her home. And then my middle schooler just got an itinerary last week and they haven’t been able to get her home for a few days. And then my first one, she has no itinerary at all and they are not going to add her with her sister who comes to the same school at the same time, ”says Blake, whose children all have learning disabilities. .

Blake said she calls Columbus City School’s transportation department daily in hopes that one day someone on the other end of the line will have a solution to her children’s nightmare.

Although the situation is more than frustrating, it is also dangerous.

“You don’t want your kids sitting on the side of the street waiting an hour and a half to two hours waiting for a bus. Anything can happen to them, so I’m scared for them and worried about them waiting on the bus. Will the bus come? And I can’t be in two places at once,” she said.

Shawna Blake, who has three daughters who attend Summitt Academy schools in Columbus, has been fighting to get her kids assigned a bus route or have a regular bus since the start of the school year.

Due to the inconsistency of her children’s buses, Blake said she lost her job.

“I was going to work at three in the morning so I could get home in time to get them up and take them to school and then do my second shift. I get in at noon, which is earlier than they wanted me around one or two, but I couldn’t do that and be able to pick up the kids, so they ended up letting me go because they wanted someone who could do their hours which they asked for, but couldn’t get,” Blake said.

Cheryl Elliot, director of Summit Academy Community Schools, said about 30 families were still trying to get a daily bus assignment after the start of the new school year. He was told that a new routing system was to blame.

The day we showed up at the Summit Academy schools, the afternoon bus came to take the students home, but Elliott said it was definitely hit or miss.

“You know parents call, I email trying to get answers, so hopefully we can sort this out, but I know a parent last week was, you know, just begging for a date when their child would get transportation and there was no answer,” Elliott, who has been at Summit Academy for 15 years and in education for 22, said

Elliot says the problem is so bad that 27 out of 30 middle school students don’t have a bus to take them home, so Summit Academy has launched a special after-school program to provide care for students until that their parents can pick them up hours later.

“And that forced us to start an after-school program, which wasn’t in my budget to do that, so that we could at least ease some of the pain for the parents. So we’re there until 5:30 or 6 p.m. every night, which allows parents to leave work and pick up their kids,” she said.

Cheryl Elliot, Principal of Summit Academy Community Schools in Columbus.
Cheryl Elliot, Principal of Summit Academy Community Schools in Columbus.

A spokesperson for Columbus City Schools emailed WOSU stating that its transportation department is working to resolve any issues brought to their attention. The district told WOSU that the bus problem is directly linked to a shortage of bus drivers.

For Shawna Blake, whose children are sometimes forced to miss school due to transport problems, said the suggestion that the continued shortage of bus drivers is to blame for these problems simply does not work.

“But for my children’s situation, this is not the case because there is already a bus and there is already a driver for the journey. So why doesn’t it have a road? They don’t want to put her on the list? No. They did nothing to put her on the list no matter what I said or argued and told me to slow my rolling and calm down. The last time I was on the phone with them. How many times would you say you called them to try to resolve this issue? Every day for eight weeks? Every day, every day,” Blake said.

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