DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Dayton Public Schools sent a letter to parents about their children’s bus routes after the first week caused major concerns and confusion for families.
Last year, 20 percent of students were remote so they were able to transport every student. Now ,returning to pre-pandemic guidelines, DPS says they are short on bus drivers and new protocols weren’t communicated well to families.
“That’s where we ended up dropping the ball on the communication, and I take full responsibility for that,” said Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli.
This miscommunication has left Dayton Public Schools scrambling, returning to pre-pandemic busing guidelines for students. One parent said they advised her to place her 14-year-old daughter on an RTA bus or pay for an Uber.
“I asked DPS if they would put their child on an RTA and they said no,” said Ebony Reese, a DPS parent. “I asked then why are you suggesting we do things for our children that you’re not willing to do for your own, that just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Another DPS parent said both of her kids have been transported out of their quadrant by DPS buses since 2014. However, that’s not the case anymore.
“I got a job offer to start full-time work and I had to turn it down because of this busing issue,” said Shamika Lee, a DPS parent. “I can’t be comfortable working full-time all day and not know how my children will be transported. My family and their father are changing their schedules to help accommodate and that’s not okay, shouldn’t be okay.”
According to Lolli, the district only provides transportation to and from the home address of students who live more than 1.5 miles from a school in their quadrant. If students are attending a school outside of their quadrant, they’re not eligible for bus pick up with some exceptions.
On top of the miscommunication, DPS says they are also in need of bus drivers.
“I was advised she was number 350 on the list to get a call back,” Reese said. “I called back a day later and was told she now has a bus stop on the corner of our street but doesn’t have a bus or a bus driver, what is that?”
Another DPS parent who wishes to remain anonymous says she has to leave work early and arrive late just to take her daughter to school during the busing disaster.
“We are now three weeks into school and my daughter still does not have a bus schedule. When I called Monday they told me she should have a bus by Thursday. I called today and they told me to call back on Tuesday. I can’t keep doing this. I’m so afraid to lose my job over something so simple that can be fixed if Superintendent Lolli would give the transportation routing office some help.”
At this time, Superintendent Lolli says they are working as hard as they can to fix the busing issues but doesn’t know when that will be. Right now, they have 125 drivers but their goal is to have 160.
Full letter below:
August 25, 2021 News
Dear Dayton Public Schools Families:
Transportation caused many families great concern during the first week of school. Please be advised that the district returned to transportation procedures that were in place before the pandemic, but that information was not sufficiently communicated.
Last year, the district transported any student who requested it. With 20% of students being remote, the district had the ability to transport any student. However, now that the district is back to in-person instruction for all, pre-COVID-19 practices that were in place for more than five years are now back in place.
The district only provides transportation to and from the home address of students who live more than 1.5 miles from a school in their quadrant.
The district is divided into four quadrants. Students who live within one quadrant but attend school in another are not eligible for transportation. The only exception is for special needs students with an IEP requiring transportation, or students attending one of the district’s specialty schools. These schools include Stivers School for the Arts, Charity Adams Earley Girls Academy, River’s Edge Montessori, Meadowdale Career Technology Center and David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center. Certain elementary students were also previously grandfathered in and still receive transportation from a decision made in 2016.
Find your quadrant here: https://www.dps.k12.oh.us/schools/
Please also understand that the district will not transport students to and from daycares that are not within their neighborhood school area and on an established stop on the identified bus route.
If your student attends an out-of-quadrant school and you cannot provide transportation, you can request to transfer the student to your neighborhood school. If you live more than 1.5 miles away from that school, transportation can be provided. If you would like to transfer your student, please call 937-542-4069 on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
If you did not receive a letter from transportation prior to the start of school indicating your stop location and pick-up/drop-off times, it is likely that your student is not eligible for transportation.
Many families changed schools over the past several months but did not officially request to remain in the same school. Transportation continued to transport to that same school although technically, parents needed to transport in order to remain in the school. This has also caused confusion with families. Transportation should not have continued to transport out of the quadrant. This is now corrected, so many students need to either enroll in the school closest to their homes or the parent needs to transport to the previous school.
We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve these issues and transport students safely and on time, while following the district’s correct protocols and procedures implemented over 5 years ago.
Please contact Transportation at 937-542-4010 if you have specific questions or concerns. The call center now has more staff available to take these calls.
Elizabeth J. Lolli, Ph.D.