Durham School Services issues statement on viral photo of overcrowded school bus

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Durham School Services has issued a statement about a photo of an overcrowded bus that has gained a lot of attention on Facebook.

The photo, posted Monday night, shows multiple students are in each seat and some even in the aisle and on the floor.

Parents say this was a bus that was bringing students home from C.E. Williams Middle School Monday afternoon. Parents say the bus was crowded because one of the buses did not show up and the students, who were supposed to be on that bus, ended up being split onto two others. That is when the picture was taken.

Durham School Services spokesperson Kate Walden released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

Safety is our top focus, and capacity limits are to be followed by all members of our team. Following our investigation, we determined that student capacity on bus 604 was exceeded yesterday afternoon. This afternoon and tomorrow morning, our supervisor will be riding the route to ensure it runs smoothly and that students are being safely loaded; in addition, the driver is receiving retraining to ensure that this does not happen again.

The Charleston County School District contracts with Durham for the service to operate its school buses.

Parents are upset this happened especially because it concerns the safety of the students.

Durham earlier said they were investigating the matter and working with CCSD officials to determine what happened.

Parents say overcrowding on Durham school buses, however, is nothing new. In fact, last month a parent reported an "overcrowded bus problem" in which buses at Wando High School were so full, they've had to leave some students at school and come back to get them after doing a route.

In a statement, Durham responded to that incident:

A driver shortage and growing student population have caused a need to complete additional runs in some instances to avoid overcrowding. Safety is our top priority, and we adhere to bus manufacturer guidelines for student capacity. We are taking actions to remedy the matter, including reviewing ridership counts to adjust routing where needed and using a variety of channels to hire additional drivers.  We are always seeking qualified drivers, and encourage those interested to apply at www.durhamschoolservices/careers.

When asked for a comment, Charleston County School District officials said they were working to independently confirm the incident.

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