Parents in Charleston County concerned with late school buses

Published: Sep. 11, 2019 at 8:42 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston County mom says late school buses are a big issue for her family this year.

Charleston County School District officials say the bus driver shortage along with traffic are causing buses to arrive late.

The district says they have heard from parents and school administrators about late buses.

Parent, Roberta Smith, says on one occasion her children arrived to school nearly two hours late after riding the bus.

“I understand that they have bus shortages, but at the same time kids structure of education is more important to have them there on time as well,” Smith said.

She says multiple other times they’ve been 30 minutes to an hour late.

“I leave out early in the morning like 5:30 in the morning to be at work,” Smith said. “I have to drop my other child off at elementary school and I have to be to work here at 6:30 a.m. So it’s like I rely on them to get my kids to school on time.”

Smith says on Monday her kids left the bus stop because they didn’t think the bus was coming at all. She’s says it’s also frustrating for her children.

“It is especially with my baby girl, she’s like mom we walk in class and everybody is staring at us and we have to hurry up and get our work that we already missed coming in that late,” Smith said. " So it’s really stressing her out."

Smith says she reached out to the bus services company but didn’t hear back. She says she’s also talked to someone with the school district who said they would look into the issue.

Durham School Services manage the buses for the Charleston County School District.

They say they are still having a driver shortage. They are about a dozen drivers short and they say some buses have to complete two routes which can also cause more delays.

The spokesperson for Durham School Services, Ed Flavin, says unemployment is under 3 percent in Charleston and competition for drivers is great.

Flavin says they are always looking for safe and professional drivers and the starting rate is $15 per hour. The company pays for the permit fee and for Behind the Wheel training once a person has obtained a permit.

“We are vigorously recruiting for drivers in all areas and currently are adding 5 to 10 new drivers each week to our staff,” Flavin said.

According to the Durham website, they serve more than 600 school districts in 31 states.

Smith says her children who attend Stall High School and Zucker Middle School have been missing class instruction time which she is really concerned about.

The school bus service says they offered incentive bonuses last year for people who stayed with the company a certain amount of time. Flavin says they were paid out last week. It’s not clear if they will have any incentives bonuses again this year.

Durham School Services issued the following statement:

We apologize for this inconvenience and know that we are working tirelessly to rectify this concern. We encourage parents and guardians to download and utilize the Remind App where we are able to update in the system if a bus is running behind schedule.

The Charleston County School District issued the following statement:

“Charleston County School District is aware of buses arriving late to school in the morning at both Jerry Zucker Middle School and R.B. Stall High School. Unfortunately, the bus driver shortage, coupled with the traffic in the area, is negatively affecting student transportation throughout the Lowcountry. We are working with Durham School Services to ensure they have weekly contingency plans and communicate with schools and parents via REMIND.”

You can sign up for bus notifications here.

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