Two Jefferson County Public Schools principals have been suspended following transportation problems on the first day of classes Tuesday. District officials say the principals at King and Lincoln elementary did not properly prepare tags for their students.
This is the first year for the tags, which display bus numbers and school names and were to be given to all bus-riding elementary students. But Superintendent Sheldon Berman says tags were either incorrect or printed late for students at King and Lincoln. That caused confusion and delays. About 400 students arrived home hours after they were supposed to, and the last students were dropped off around 9 pm.
Tana Johnson’s daughter was among them.
“The concern is not even the timeframe, the concern is that nobody could give me information on where [my daughter] Brandy was, as far as I know,” says Johnson. “She’s a kindergartener, she could’ve gotten off the bus at the wrong place, been standing on the corner. It’s all the ‘What-ifs’ that provide the issue.”
Berman says the problems should not be blamed on the student assignment plan.
“King and Lincoln are district-wide magnet schools,” he says. “Once you have magnet schools you open up a whole different transportation system. So we’re not talking about student assignment at all. This is not a student assignment issue.”
The principals of King and Lincoln have been suspended with pay pending investigation.
“We have tried to do as much as we can to prepare principals well and to say, ‘This is critical,'” says Berman. “I actually met with them at the start of school and basically said, ‘Thank you for all your effort. This is the most critical first day we have had.”
District staff members have been brought in to address the problems. Chancey Elementary also experienced some problems, but Berman says the principal corrected them.
The full press conference with Superintendent Sheldon Berman: