Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Parent asks Colfax school board to improve bus service, safety

 

September 13, 2018 | View PDF



A parent of students at Jennings Elementary School, Eva Marie Dhillon, spoke to the school board Aug. 27 saying there were three incidents last spring on a Colfax school bus which her three children ride to and from Thorn Hill.

“What is going to be different this year?” she asked .

She told the board she thought the bus was overcrowded.

“As a parent, I felt my kids were not safe,” said Dhillon, who took her kids to a different stop to get on and off the bus at one point last spring.

“What can we do as parents to help the situation?”

The board listened as she completed her given three minutes for public comment.

“Thank you for your comments and we will discuss those,” said David Nails, board president.

The bus incidents she referred to led to action taken by police and the school district.

“We had discipline issues on the bus, then significant discipline ensued,” said Jerry Pugh, school district superintendent, citing confidentiality rules on giving further information. “We dealt with it to the fullest extent that we could deal with it. Some students made some significantly poor choices.”

Colfax buses have assigned rows by age of student, with exceptions.

“I was led to believe we were gonna have changes on the bus,” Dhillon said.

A policy adjustment regarding buses was made over the summer to assure younger children get on the right one – a colored dot placed beside bus numbers and kids given colored badges to match. Also, any changes to what bus a student may take at the end of a school day now go through the school office, as opposed to the child’s teacher.

The changes are a supplement to what drivers do on the routes every day.

“We have set policies depending on drivers to keep a good decorum in buses,” Pugh said. “Safety is that no. 1 priority.”

Dhillon questioned whether it is enough.

“What is more important, trying to monitor behavior or watching the road?” she said.

More may follow on the matter at an upcoming school board meeting.

“We’ll be expecting to hear a report back on how crowded that bus is,” Nails said Tuesday. . “We’ll be asking Jerry. I would suspect I’ll bring it up at the next board meeting, and inquire... You’ve got one driver, and that driver is supposed to be driving the bus. It’s also very costly to put an aide on each bus.”

Appearing before the board, as Dhillon did, is open to parents and other residents of the community.

“The board always encourages parents to try to get it worked out with the administration, through the chain of command,” Nails said. “That’s what they’re paid to do. But if they feel like it’s not going anywhere, then of course, come in and bring it to the board.”

The board’s next meeting will be Sept. 24.

“Stay tuned, we’ll see if we can alleviate some of the pain for the kids and the driver,” Nails promised.

 
 

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