AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Back to school week got off to a rough start for some students at Heim Middle School.
As they were being bused home on Wednesday, the ABS brake warning light came on in a school bus, so the driver put it in park on Randwood Drive.
“Four families went down to try and get them off the bus and they were saying, ‘It’s hot, we have to go to the bathroom,'” said parent Susan McNess.
Despite the pleas from the parents and students, the driver was told that all kids had to be dropped off at their stops, and that couldn’t happen until a new bus arrived, even though some students could see their houses.
McNess brought them water.
“We’re warned not to leave pets in hot cars of the parking lots at stores, and yet we left 13 children in a hot bus with windows that only open a little.”
After they got on the new bus, McNess says the driver got lost on Millersport Highway and her 11-year-old son had to give him directions on how to get back to Randwood Drive.
Williamsville Central Schools Assistant Superintendent Thomas Maturski apologized to the parents.
“It’s just an unfortunate circumstance.”
He says this was only the second day of a new contract with Student Transportation of America, which provided brand new buses and new drivers unfamiliar with the district.
Bus drivers have already been told that if it happens again, and parents show up at the school bus, they will be allowed to take their children home from now on.
“The driver may release students to parents with the proper identification,” said Maturski.
That comes as welcome news to parents like McNess, who said, “That just seems logical.”
The Williamsville Central School District is planning to make a cell phone app available to parents that would allow them to track exactly where their children’s bus is at any moment. The app is expected to be up and running by November.
Batavia schools are already putting this app into use. Learn more here.