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Parents plan protest against APS

12:23 AM, Aug 12, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Concerned parents in Vine City unveiled some of the signs they plan to protest with before the Atlanta Public School Board meeting Monday night.

Where's The Bus, Mommy?

The Bus Stops Here, Erroll.

Erroll, Get On The Bus.

Those last two are written specifically to APS Superintendent Erroll Davis.

As part of this year's resdistricting, the system is now enforcing a long-standing rule on the books that elementary school kids who live within a mile of their school will be walking. The distance increases to a mile and a half each way for middle schoolers and high schoolers.

Parents in Vine City object on several fronts.

Sharon Banks is a single mother with 6-year-old twins and an 8-year-old daughter. 

"I work.  Last year, I would drop my daughter off at the bus stop, but two miles a day is just too far to let my kids walk alone. Especially in this neighborhood," Banks said.

She and other neighbors suggested 11Alive drive the proposed walking route to Bethune Elementary School.  We saw a boarded up corner business, abandoned homes, overgrown yards and trash blocking the sidewalk at several points.

"We've got maps that show a number of sex offenders in this community. You can't let children walk these streets to and from school everyday. It is too dangerous around here," said resident Willie Blackmon.

Parents say last year a bus picked up their kids and took them to Bethune Elementary, but now that it is absorbing children from another school, the buses are devoted only to those other students.

"Explain to me how that bus that is going the same school just drives by my kids walking to the same place," Banks said. "Couldn't they just make the extra stop or two?"

According to the Atlanta Public School District spokesman, Keith Bromery, consolidating bus routes and eliminating others was a strategic decision.

"Enforcement of the walk zone limits is for efficiency and financial reasons.  It is difficult to justify having the number of schools that we do and then busing students to and from them when they are within walking distance," Bromery said.

According to him, APS will make exceptions to the walk-zone limits on a case-by-case basis taking into account issues like crime, walk obstructions and crossing busy thoroughfares. 

"All parents or guardians have to do is state their concerns regarding their children walking to school and the district will look into the issue and make a determination from there," Bromery said. 

Vine City parents plan to articulate their concerns at a planned protest Monday afternoon at APS Headquarters before the school board meeting begins.

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