‘Those kinds of mistakes can’t happen:’ Horry County parents concerned over school bus miscommunications, issues

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:50 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Thousands of Horry County Students ride the bus home every day, and making sure kids get home safely is the school district’s top priority.

But confusion can happen, especially at the beginning of the school year.

Breanna Foutz, the mother of two kids in the Horry County school district, said it wasn’t until she saw a home camera video of her 5- and 8-year-old sons walking up to her house she realized they were not dropped off at daycare.

She said she asked a family member to race to her home so the kids would not be alone.

“It would’ve been like 30 minutes for me to get home. We were not just a step away it was going to be a drive,” said Foutz.

Foutz said she filled out paperwork for her kids to go from school to a third-party daycare center that uses its own bus to pick students up from school.

However, according to Foutz, someone told her kids to get on the bus home instead of the bus to the daycare center.

Foutz said she wants to see changes in how after-school bus pickup operates.

“My biggest concern is really the safety of the children. They need to have stricter policies or make sure they follow their protocols. Every bus driver, I feel like, should have training and make sure everyone’s aware of what the protocol is and follows it every single day regardless of a situation,” said Foutz.

Foutz said she spoke to the principal the next day who apologized and told her the school and daycare center had two different lists.

WMBF News contacted the school district which sent the following statement Tuesday:

“The principal addressed the transportation concerns with the parent this morning, and the situation has been resolved. It appears there were a few issues that took place including the information provided to the school during student registration, daycare transportation confirmation with the school, drop-off procedures, etc. Again, the issue has been resolved and the school now has accurate transportation information from the parents regarding daycare.”

Ben Prince, Horry County School District Director of Transportation, said there are a couple of things parents can do if they find themselves in a similar situation.

“There are specific procedures in place. I would encourage anyone in that situation to reach out to the school to make sure all transportation documentation is accurate and reach out to our bus office with any questions. We have secretaries in our bus offices that are there throughout the course of the day,” said Prince.

Foutz said she is glad the issue is now resolved, and her kids made it home safe.

“I’m grateful that my 8-year-old was able to navigate that situation. You know, we gave him a lot of kudos and said you’re a great big brother and we’re so very proud of you. But then apologized profusely and said, ‘I’m so very sorry you had to go through this, but you did a fantastic job doing it,’” said Foutz.

Another parent of a child in Horry County school district said she experienced transportation issues on the first day of school as well.

She said her 10-year-old daughter got on the correct school bus home Monday; however, she said the bus driver told her daughter she was on the wrong bus and they would finish all of the stops and then take her back to the school.

“She has a cellphone I got her this year because of all the things going on in the world right now and I was just nervous about it, but I didn’t think this is why she would be calling me,” said the parent.

This parent says she confirmed her daughter’s bus route three times, and when she found out what was going on, she immediately called the school district’s transportation office.

Prince said bus drivers are trained to handle situations like these if they think students are in the wrong place.

“In the afternoon when those are identified, they’ll let school-based administration know. I mean if they’re not on the right bus the school-based administration will remove them and figure out which bus he or she needed to be on,” said Prince.

The parent said she would like to see some changes including someone accounting for students on the bus before it leaves especially during the first few weeks of school.

This is a developing story. Stay with WMBF News for updates.

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