Parents voice concerns about Durham bus issues at Roanoke City school board meeting


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – At Tuesday night’s Roanoke City School Board Meeting, parents and students came out to address concerns about Durham School Services handling of the numerous delays buses have been having getting students to and from school since the school year has begun.

Parents spoke before the school board members and Durham School Services representative about recent issues with the busses at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Parents addressed concerns about Durham School Services’ handling of numerous bus delays getting students to and from school since the school year has begun.

In the first few days, bus delays caused significant issues for students not getting to school on time. In some cases, buses didn’t arrive to pick students up until 30 minutes after school had already started.

Similar situations were occurring in the afternoon as well as students, in some cases, were not getting home until after 5 p.m.

“Something’s got to give,” said one parent who spoke at the meeting.

There were a handful of parents at the school board meeting to voice their concerns.

“The school board really hasn’t heard directly from the parents,” said Elizabeth Lawrence.

She says her children have had to wait after school for a bus and she wants to see something done about it.

“I hope and I pray that they understand the seriousness, the impact that we’re having as parents and also as the kids and also the inconveniences that we’re experiencing from it,” said Lawrence.

Another parent, Heather Lawson, took the matter into her own hands with a petition against outsourcing bus drivers.

“I started the petition after seeing so many people having problems/disruptions to their child’s bus ride every day,” Lawson said.

These problems are something that also hit home for the school board members. Like Laura Rottenborn, who says her child’s bus was late and she wasn’t notified. Now, she wants to see a plan from Durham on how to better communicate delays with parents.

“Wearing my parent only hat, not my board hat, I personally called Durham to find out where my child’s bus was and it took me 30 minutes to get an answer. And I as a parent find that unacceptable. And as a board member on behalf of all of our children in our school division, that is unacceptable,” Rottenborn said in the meeting.

Durham School Services Vice President of Operations John Ziegler was at the meeting and sat through the parent’s concerns and addressed the board.

“It’s not something I want to hear. We pride our company on giving safe, on-time, dependable service. So it certainly didn’t feel good and it’s my goal to change that so it’s not an issue going forward,” said John Ziegler.

Ziegler says they lost some staff over the summer and got new bus routes leading to some of their problems.

“We are short school bus drivers and not having enough drivers causes us to have to double routes at times. So certainly it’s a manpower issue at this point,” said Ziegler.

Ziegler says they are working to hire new bus drivers and they are also working on their communication plans to notify parents about delays.

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