Pine Tree ISD working to prevent bus mishap in future

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Parents are demanding answers over a problem with one school's bus routes that left some students waiting hours to get home.

At Pine Tree ISD Monday, several students waited until 7 o'clock before they finally got home.

When Eric Minor's 6-year-old son did not get off the bus Monday afternoon, he says he rushed to Pine Tree's bus barn, asking dispatch to alert the driver. "'Physically search for him,' those were her words, 'Physically find this child,'" said Minor. "So I gave her his description, what his backpack looked like, what he was wearing."

"It was very chaotic," said Laurie Turman, a concerned parent.

Turman says her 8-year-old son was also missing for hours. "Not knowing any answers and not getting any help from anybody, it was very, very scary yesterday, very scary," said Turman. "It was just the fear that was in me and everybody else up there. It was just something that any parent would be devastated by."

Tuesday, Pine Tree school officials admitted things did not go as smoothly as they hoped. Vickie Echols says drivers did not have current addresses for some students which slowed them down.

"We also found that some kids forgot to get off their bus and one child fell asleep," explained Echols. "I mean, it's a full day...the first day of school, the whole system really is in slow motion because we're training our kids to get on the bus."

Eric says his son was finally discovered asleep on the bus. "Luckily, I'm glad he wasn't traumatized," said Minor. "I've heard a lot of stories where the kids were actually fearful they weren't getting home."

After some confusion, Turman's son was dropped off about six. "He had no name tag, no address, no phone number on his shirt," said Turman. "He was scared."

Echols' says they stress safety first. She says some buses were loaded too full Monday and they had to reconfigure routes which also caused delays.

The school district encourages parents to check their child's bus routes online or call a special phone line set up. "You can get a daily updated message about any bus that's late or has an issue," said Echols. "Accidents happen and certainly we want parents to understand communication is important to us."

The school district is asking parents to provide updated addresses if they moved.

Now, there has been a shortage of bus drivers in the past, but school officials say they currently have enough to cover their routes.

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