Who's Really Driving Rockwood Student Buses?
A Rockwood School District parent raises safety concerns about last-minute, out-of-state bus drivers who are transporting students this week. He asked at Thursday's Rockwood Board Of Education meeting if all drivers are familiar with safety standards.
Were out-of-state First Student substitute bus drivers really ready to take on Rockwood School District routes? The answer from the First Student, Inc. transportation contractor was yes; some district parents are not as confident.
See related article: Rockwood Bus Drivers Fill In From California
Rockwood parent Russ Graves, who lives near Marsh and Clarkson roads, waited with his Westridge Elementary student for 40 minutes extra for the bus pickup on the first day of school Tuesday. He then waited about an hour for the bus to drop off his child at the end of Tuesday.
On day two of school this week, he said the bus was 20 minutes late.
While Graves said it's understandable to think bus routes will get worked out once school starts, what the First Student bus driver voluntarily told him was what really disturbed him.
Graves said the way he saw the driver handle a turnaround with students involved "sent shivers up his spine." He said he believed it was an elementary safety point, but the driver told him she did not know about it. Graves got the opinion from speaking to the driver that her training was happening "on the job." So he called the First Student student contact listed for Rockwood: Marilyn at 636-458-2044.
Graves said he explained the situation, but was met with resistance and discourteousness. He told Rockwood board of education directors on Thursday he could not get a straight answer about bus drivers' training, and was displeased his inquiry was not taken seriously.
First Student bus drivers must consent to criminal and traffic records search, undergo screenings for controlled substances, and successfully complete up to 35 hours of training, according to the details posted on the Rockwood School District website about the arrangements.
Graves said he believed this driver should be taken off Rockwood routes until she has completed all required training. He said she appeared to have been driving for five years, and had a clean police record and background check.
He told Patch he was accused of misunderstanding what the driver communicated to him due to language barriers, but he claims to have had a perfectly understandable conversation in English.
At this point, Rockwood parents still are wondering why local bus drivers were sent to Omaha, NE, for First Student needs, creating a second shortage of drivers here for the district, which prompted First Student to temporarily send in drivers from California to fill in the Rockwood routes. If First Student was 100 drivers short in Omaha, why didn't they send California drivers straight there, leaving the Rockwood drivers who were ready for their routes to take care of them?