COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus City Schools is six weeks into the school year and some parents told 10TV they’re still having issues with the district's transportation.
Ashley Shanyfelt has a 5-year-old son who is seeing impaired and goes to Ohio School for the Blind which uses CCS transportation.
"Carter started school at the Ohio School for the Blind five weeks ago and has not received appropriate or safe transportation through Columbus City Schools since,” Shanyfelt said.
Shanyfelt said as a single mother, it’s hard enough, but when her son doesn’t receive proper transportation which makes balancing her work and taking care of her children even more difficult. She said she’s outraged by what she calls unreliable and inappropriate transportation.
"He started by not having a route at all and two weeks in he was transported by a van to and from school. It was actually beautiful three days and then we went into the holiday weekend and coming out, he hasn't had transportation since,” Shanyfelt said.
She said he was eventually re-routed but his pickup time was 5:51 a.m., over two hours before his school started. Besides the long days for a 5-year-old, he was put on a bus with middle schoolers who are 6 to 9 years older than him.
“I can assure you that middle schoolers are definitely thinking about and talking about things that a 5-year-old shouldn't be... so it definitely alarmed me once I had learned that,” Shanyfelt said.
She’s also concerned her son was not given safe seating with a car seat and proper safety precautions.
"I am just definitely holding Columbus City responsible,” Shanyfelt explained she’s hopeful by her and others sharing their stories, change will come.
Another fed-up parent is Season Williams, whose son with special needs also hasn’t received CCS transportation since school started. Williams said she’s thankful she has a vehicle but said it’s ridiculous transportation wasn’t sorted out before school started.
"It's very upsetting because they're supposed to follow their first priority guidelines due to the children with IEPs,” Williams explained.
She had to change schools from Westmoor Middle School to Champion Middle School because of the issues, but the bus at the new school still never came.
“This is the worst that I've ever been through this year with a bunch of kids that's not getting transported or this transportation. Like, you guys had all summer to get all this worked on before the kids came back to school... stuff should have been done,” said Wiliams.
We reached out to CCS for comment on these situations and other issues and they said they are not conducting interviews at this time.
Jacqueline Bryant, the director of communications, said in a released statement that transportation is working diligently to resolve all of the issues brought to their attention.
The full written statement is below:
“The transportation department continues to improve streamlining routes for efficiency and has made significant gains since the start of the school year. I understand that all transportation-eligible students, whom we are aware of, have been routed and are receiving transportation services. Including Charter and Non-Public Schools, for which the District also provides transportation services.
The department reviews routes daily to determine what students use our transportation services. As students enter and leave the District and routes change, the department level sets routing continuously. Per ORC, we have 10-days to get new students routed. Our goal is one to five days without lowering efficiency.
Like many school districts across the country, transportation is still dealing with a shortage of drivers. The department is working with ODE and our internal teams to determine what additional short-term resources the District might utilize to offset the driver shortage. The department currently has 679 routes to transport nearly 38,000 students. The department is doubling and even tripling routes as needed. They have 538 active school bus drivers with an additional 20 supervisors that are also driving. Unfortunately, they are still seeing a daily call-off rate of nearly 18%. The District continues to recruit drivers actively.
Early in the school year, due to supply chain delays, transportation experienced a shortage of equipment, additional car seats, vests, etc., for vendors contracted by the department to transport students via transportation vans and buses. During that time, the department provided alternate yellow-bus transportation with the needed equipment or asked parents to transport their young person to school. However, I’m told, all equipment has been provided.
The department is seeing a decrease in call wait-times, averaging approximately 2,000 calls/day, down from 3,000 at the start of the school year. Most calls received now are requests for route/stop changes and delayed buses.
Transportation is working diligently to resolve all of the issues brought to their attention.”