APS parents upset over school bus glitches

1:16 AM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA - For some parents and students in Atlanta Public Schools, the first day of school was not a smooth one.

Throughout the day Monday, parents called and emailed 11Alive, describing problems with APS school bus routes. Some complained that their children were late to school, rode in overcrowded buses or were never picked up at all.

District spokesman Keith Bromery says they always face "hiccups" in the first few days of school and are working to resolve each issue on a case-by-case basis.

This year, however, might bring more than usual; the district has made changes to its transportation policy, cutting service in three areas in an effort to save money:

-Magnet Programs: Out of zone students attending one of five high school magnet programs will no longer receive bus transportation. Instead, students qualifying for free or reduced lunch will receive MARTA passes from the district. Others must arrange for their own transportation.

-One-Mile Radius: Students living within one mile of their elementary school, or 1.5 miles of their middle or high school will not receive bus service.

-No Child Left Behind: Also cut from service are students who transferred to another school when their home school failed to make AYP (adequate yearly progress). Under No Child Left Behind, the district was required to provide transportation to those students. Because Georgia is now exempt from NCLB, that requirement no longer applies.

Bromery said in the past week, the district has used emails, robo calls and the APS website to inform parents, but some said they knew nothing of the route changes.

"We just want somebody to respond to us," said Diane Jarrell, who has two children at Sarah Smith Elementary School.

She says she and other parents called APS officials Friday and Monday to get answers about the new routes, but never received a response.

"Get the routes done properly and efficiently so people are making it home in a timely manner," she said. "When [buses] could get them home in 20 minutes last year and it's taking an hour and a half this year, something is not efficient about that."

Many parents took to social media to express their frustrations. The administrator of the district's Twitter page, @apsupdate, spent most of the day answering parents' individual concerns.

The district hopes to have most issues resolved by the end of this week. For more information on route changes, visit the APS website.

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