The superintendent of Kentucky’s biggest school system closed schools on Thursday and Friday due to a “transportation disaster” that resulted in some children being stuck on buses until just before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the first day of school.
In a video statement posted on social media on Thursday, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio apologized to the school’s 96,000 students, their families, bus drivers, and school officials. He acknowledged that canceling day two and three of school was the most challenging decision of his tenure as superintendent. The district, which includes Louisville, has 65,000 bus riders, according to its website.
“I saw some amazing instruction. Children, families, new school buildings, and to have it come to an end with a transportation disaster was truly unacceptable.”
Pollio’s Facebook post on Wednesday emphasized that JCPS experiences persistent transportation delays during the first days of school, but what happened on Tuesday is not acceptable.
The statement acknowledged that families were experiencing more inconvenience and delays than in previous years due to the struggle of bus drivers, families, students, and school staff navigating a new transportation plan.
The statement indicated that families had been waiting for hours for their children to return home after dismissal, and as of 9:58 p.m. on Wednesday, bus riders had not been dropped off.
The statement from Pollio stated that they will be making strenuous efforts to make adjustments in order to reduce bus delays and ensure that children who require transportation have a safe journey to school.
The Louisville Metro Police Department acknowledged that some parents had phoned them to report the delay in children returning home, but these children were discovered before the report-taking process.
The engineering firm AlphaRoute, which is contracted with JCPS to create transportation solutions, stated in a statement to CNN that they are working at ‘diligent’ methods to address the issues faced by their clients, and that it is unclear what led to these problems.
The statement acknowledged that the district’s driver shortage necessitated significant changes to bus routing, which was likely responsible for the extremely regrettable situation.
According to the statement, a new school assignment model brought about “a significant amount of change.” The district is confident that the new bell times and routes will be effective, and they will work with full cooperation for the district.
Teamsters Local Union 783, who represent bus drivers in the district, posted on Facebook on Wednesday that the first day of school was a very difficult one for their team at JCPS.
The statement affirmed that all Members were responsible for making sure every child was safely delivered home, despite the unacceptable delivery times and conditions.
The statement suggested that the problem could have been prevented by allowing those responsible for the task to sit at the table and help design routes, while also providing ample time for practice and correctness.
Pollio stated in his video statement that officials will be working around the clock to fix transportation system errors, but they must also ensure the safety of their children and not repeat previous incidents.
Pollio stated that bus routes and stops will be evaluated by officials, and they will compensate bus drivers with extra days to test new routes.