Two Principals Suspended Following JCPS Bus Problems

by Gabe Bullard on August 18, 2010

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.

Audio MP3

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:

Audio MP3

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{ 2 comments }

Attica Scott August 18, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I am sad that so many of our elementary school students had scary bus riding experiences on Tuesday and that the school bus system failed a significant number of our children by getting them home after 8 at night. I am also disturbed by the decision to suspend two elementary school principals because of the late drop off of JCPS students on Tuesday. I am the mother of two children who are bussed to JCPS schools: one in elementary school and one in high school. On Tuesday, my 15-year-old son’s bus did not show to pick him up in the morning. On Wednesday, my 9-year-old daughter’s bus driver chose not to let her off at her stop but instead dropped her 10 blocks from our house.

Were the school principals responsible for all of these actions? At my daughter’s school, it wasn’t the principal who created the bus tags. Where is the disciplinary actions and accountability for the bus companies and bus drivers? Instead of playing the blame game, let’s fix our broken bus system!

We need transparency in decision making and we need to do more to ensure the safety of our children on these school busses. As a parent, I know what it is like to wait anxiously for my child to arrive home. I also know what it is like when people are used as scapegoats.

While we can use these bussing mistakes as an opportunity to focus on and to want to give up on the student assignment plan, we must use these travesties to demand improvements in our bussing plan and more responsibility from the people who are appointed, elected and hired to make the best decisions available regarding sound educational policy.

Moonraker August 18, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Attica Scott, God bless whoever taught you spelling. I thought I was the only one who still wrote the words “busses”, “bussed” and “bussing”.

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