School Bus Is a Nightmare for Divorced, Working Parents

school-busThe nature of the school bus is to  make life easier on parents, but the transportation situation to and from school is giving some parents major headaches.

The problem? Schools that are trying to save themselves some time and headaches by refusing to bus kids to different houses for after-school care or to satisfy custody arrangements. 

I’ve heard this headache from a number of parents over the years, but it’s become a major issue in one Florida town, where a mom is taking her fight to the newspapers to get some relief.

Divorced and sharing joint custody with her ex-husband, Diane Snyder told Florida Today that there’s a bus stop right by her house. But her fifteen-year-old can’t get off there because his “legal residence” is at his father’s home, five miles away. So every day that the boy is supposed to be sharing with his mom, Snyder is forced to drive out to get her son.

But it isn’t just kids of divorce who are getting caught up in the mix. It’s the kids of working parents too. The director of transportation told the newspaper:

“We get all kinds of requests for multiple bus stops, from ‘I want my kid to go to the aunt’s house today’ or ‘I need him to go to grandma’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays.'”

So do they help these parents out? No and no. The district says consistency is good for their kids, and they’ll only deviate if a child has “two legal homes,” a process that takes parents time and money in the court system. And one that won’t happen at all if they’re just trying to cobble together childcare.

Their reasoning is they can’t make concessions for everyone, but the question that begs to be asked is, why not?

Parents aren’t simply asking that their kids go to grandma’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays because they’re trying to give the school a headache. They’re trying to ensure their kids are cared for after school. And with the set up in almost every American school, which puts kids out on the streets well before a traditional work day is done, working parents need a little give from the school.

And the fact is, not every district is so strict. As a child my brother and I split our days between our home and our grandparents’ home. My parents wrote a letter to the school which was kept on file in the main office, the bus driver was given direction from the office, and we stuck to the schedule. There was no room for liability with my parents’ signatures on file, no room for error with the bus driver aware of what our schedule looked like.

If we were to go to someone else’s house for a sleep-over or for after-school care, my parents simply wrote another letter, which was sent to the main office, which again put it on file while they made up a form for another bus driver – a bus pass, which told him or her where to drop us off.

The fact is, schools are responsible for getting kids to and fro. Bus drivers are responsible for ensuring kids are being left with an adult or responsible older child when they open the doors and shoo them out.

It may be easier to say “no” to every request, but districts need to keep in mind that it’s their job to take care of kids. And that means working with parents not against them.

Image: Bill Ward Brickpile via flickr

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