Parents Frustrated With Western Height Transportation Due To Bus Driver Shortage


Wednesday, October 30th 2019, 9:44 am
By: Ashley Holden


Western Heights parents might have to find new ways to get their kids to school. 
 
Administrators from Bridgestone Intermediate posted about their transportation issues on Facebook Tuesday. The post, which looks like it was later deleted, read in part," ATTENTION PARENTS!!!!! We are expecting for buses to be very late (approximately 1-3 hours) picking up and dropping off students daily. 
 
A similar post was put on the district's high school Facebook page.  
 
There was another post on the district's official Facebook page that said five bus drivers had called out. Parents were understandably upset and posted over 125 comments on the district's post. 
 
One read in part, "It is 8:30 a.m. and still no bus driver on our route the kids have been out in this freezing temps for over 45 minutes now some with no breakfast."
 
Another parent wrote, "Since it's getting winter time our children can't be outside for 30 mins in the cold just waiting!! But if they get tired of freezing and come home and miss the bus they WILL BE COUNTED ABSENT. I don't think that's fair!!!."
 
Parents sent News 9 the transcript of a robocall that was made on Tuesday. The call said that the district has 23 routes and only 16 drivers. 

"Good afternoon this message is for all Western Heights parents. Tomorrow Wednesday October 30 2019. All bus routes will be running late due to several bus drivers calling in sick this week. We are doing the best we can to transport your son or daughter to and from school. However we have 23 routes and only 16 drivers due to cold weather conditions and our concern for your child safety we are asking all parents to consider taking their kids to and from school to avoid long wait times. Thank you for your understanding and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our administration office at 405-350-3410. Goodbye."
 
Two weeks prior, the district canceled after school activities after seven drivers called in. Some people told News 9 drivers had called out because of the poor treatment they were receiving from the district. 
 
News 9's spoke with the superintendent, Mannix Barnes, one-on-one and asked if he knew anything about that possibility. 
 
"Yeah I've never heard that," said Supt. Barnes. "We have great bus drivers and, you know, to me a school district cannot run without good bus drivers and good teachers. It's the core of any district."
 
Supt. Barnes went on to acknowledge that seven drivers did call out, but he said they had a tough job and everyone needed to work together. 
 
News 9 made multiple attempts to reach out to Supt. Barnes on Tuesday, but he did not return calls or emails. 
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