Rockford Mom Pens Concerning ‘Bus Stop Mishap’ Letter
A Rockford woman is distraught and angry after her five-year-old daughter was dropped off at the wrong bus stop twice in one week.
Amanda McCallister's five-year-old daughter, Victoria was dropped off at the wrong bus stop last Monday.
Thankfully, "A stranger found her crying in the street and was able to get word to McCallister that her daughter was safe." according to the Rockford Register Star.
An apparent software glitch caused little Victoria to be dropped off at the wrong stop. Unfortunately for Amanda McCallister, one day later, Victoria was again sent off the bus at the wrong stop.
McCallister shared the letter she wrote and read aloud in front of the Rockford School Board just a few days ago with 97ZOK:
Good evening. I am Amanda McCallister. Last week my oldest child, Victoria, started kindergarten at Cherry Valley Elementary. I come here tonight as a teacher and community member to discuss the safety of the children of our district. My husband and I arranged for Victoria to go to aftercare at the Flodin Boys & Girls Club. I went to the transportation office and filled out the paperwork. In July, the postcard said the correct information. Last Monday, instead of being brought to aftercare, my 5-year-old daughter was told to get off the bus at our neighborhood stop. She was found crying in the street by a woman I met that morning. They called me and rushed to get her. Afterward, my husband spoke with the principal and I talked to the transportation center. The drop off location had been changed back to our house without my knowledge or consent. Transportation suspected the new routing software was to blame and fixed it immediately. They assured me Victoria would be dropped off at the correct location starting Tuesday. I completed a "Let's Talk" ticket, emailed the principal and my daughter's teacher, sent a note in Victoria's folder, and personally spoke with the bus driver the following morning. I called the Boys & Girls Club Tuesday afternoon. Despite all my effort and everyone's promises, my daughter was not brought to aftercare. At that point, I didn't know where she was. I rushed out of my classroom for the second day in a row. I called the neighbor who had taken Victoria into her house the day before, no answer. I called transportation, no answer. Five agonizing minutes later, the neighbor called back saying she had Victoria. According to my neighbor, the driver’s sheet still had the wrong drop-off location. Thankfully, after another visit to transportation, the school, and a very lengthy email to board members and administration, everything appears to fix. There were hundreds of ways this story could have ended so badly. Thankfully my daughter just has a skinned knee. I didn’t come here tonight for sympathy, apologizes, or get anyone in trouble. I want to know what steps are being taken to ensure this never happens again to any child and family in the district. I have prepared a packet with the original email, Let’s Talk ticket, and a list of suggested solutions. Thank you for your time and attention to this problem.
McCallister alleges to "know of at least 5 families this happened to last week and another family this week."
She also shared "Areas of Concern with Solutions" to the bus stop drop off problem:
Areas of Concern with Solutions: The drop-off location should not have been changed. Whatever caused that to happen needs to be fixed. If it was indeed the new software, that software needs to be updated or replaced. Future changes with software need to be vetted to avoid this type of mistakes. I know of 5 different families that had this issue the first day of school. According to transportation, "the district as a whole has policy of dropping the students and going on.” This is unacceptable. Kindergartners should not be allowed off the bus without a parent or authorized adult. That is a common policy in many surrounding districts and nationwide. If parents cannot arrange for someone to be there, allow those parents to sign a waiver. I am appalled and scared that a school district allows such little kids out of their care without releasing them to a responsible party, especially given the crime statistics about Rockford. If a student is dropped off wrong one day, a system of checks and double checks needs to be put in place to ensure that the updated information reaches the hands of the driver.
Sweet Lenny is the brand manager of 97ZOK and Operations Manager for Townsquare Media Rockford. Catch him afternoons 3 to 7 on 97ZOK. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and like his page on Facebook.