A Jasper County parent tells NEWS 3 she won’t put her four year old on the school bus, until changes are made. That’s because kids in the head start program and Pre-K ride the same bus as the high school students to Ridgeland Elementary and Ridgeland High School. However, the district says adding buses is costly.
Amanda Lamb says she is not the only parent worried over the school bus experiences of elementary children who must ride with teenagers.
“I was terrified,” Lamb says.
It’s the bullying and inappropriate behavior that Lamb believes calls for kids to be separated.
“One of my nephews had all of his school work torn to pieces in his bag…they’ve been pushed out of seats…” Lamb says.
She wants separate buses, but the Jasper County School District says there aren’t enough funds from the state to add buses and routes to the existing fleet, in which some buses already need to be replaced.
Darryl Owens, the Chief of Operations for Jasper schools, says the district is also in need of more drivers. That’s the first request.
“So, there is a hardship at the state level also. If the district needs additional buses, we would submit that request to the Department of Education, they would send in a team and they would make their evaluation and if warranted, they would identify and locate buses and provide them to the districts,” Owens says.
For now, Lamb’s family members give her daughter a ride to and from school. But she hopes something can be done for change, on behalf of families who cannot afford to shuttle their children. The district reports between 89-90% of students ride a bus to school.
“It’s just a horrifying concept to have a four year old stuck on a bus with teenagers,” Lamb says.