Overcrowded bus leaves Muscogee Co. students standing

By Laura Ann Sills - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The start of the new school year has already brought a lot of headaches.  Parents have been worrying about whether their child is on the right bus, over-crowding in schools, and performance in the classroom.

Now, a new concern was brought to WTVM's attention by a Columbus mom.  She claims there is not enough room on the bus for her children to sit down and they have to stand.

The bus in question carries high school students to Northside High in Columbus.

State law allows buses to operate up to a 20% overload. The Muscogee County Transportation Director tells us it is legal for students to stand at the back of the bus.

WTVM followed school bus number 755 Monday morning.  We caught three students standing at the front of the bus as it pulled into the high school.

Mom Amanda Morris told us, "Every time the bus stopped, it threw them forward.  Once they got to school, they were very tired from having to stand up the entire ride and balance themselves on the bus. I think those are legitimate concerns."

Morris took her concerns to the School Board.

Muscogee County School Board Communication Director Valerie Fuller said she could not comment on this mom's specific concerns.  She did say they are checking into it. "Are there children standing on school buses?  We have to check out each individual bus.  So, as reports are coming in or complaints of any sort.  We have to check them out to make sure, first of all, that they are factual."

Morris explained that she had no other option but to put her kids on the bus, "I am a single mom.  I believe it is very important for my kids to get a good education.  But, primarily their safety is my upmost concern.  I want to make sure they are taken care of and I do not feel like they are being taken care of."

The school district tells us bus 755 is a new conventional bus.  It has 24 seats and holds 72 passengers. With the temporary 20% overcrowding allowance, there can be 86 students on the bus.  District representatives tell us they are working out the kinks.

But, this mom feels like it just is not safe.  "There is no protection what so ever.  I do not feel as though they are taking it seriously."

The Muscogee County School Board asks if a parent has any problems with your assigned school bus that you contact the bus zone supervisor.  You can find their number in the parent handbook.

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