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Parents convince Atlanta School Board to add bus routes in 'hazardous' neighborhoods

3:13 AM, Aug 14, 2012   |    comments
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UPDATE 9:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012: Monday night, board members responded to angry and tearful comments from parents and children by instructing Superintendent Erroll Davis to come up with a plan for more bus routes in "hazardous" neighborhoods of Atlanta.  

The issue wasn't even on Monday's agenda.  But on a motion by Board Member Byron Amos, the board voted unanimously to add it to the agenda.  Amos and others then wanted to vote immediately for additional buses for the "hazardous" neighborhoods.  But Superintendent Davis asked for a couple of days to put a plan together,

Davis said that by Wednesday he could assess and list the areas of Atlanta that are too hazardous for children to walk to and from school -- even when their walk is a mile or less -- and determine how quickly he can get the daily buses to begin serving the children in those areas.

On a motion from Board Member Brenda Muhammad, who said she wanted the board to be on the record with what it's expecting the Superintendent to do, the board voted unanimously to instruct Davis to add the routes.

Davis then joked to his transportation staff, sitting off to the side, that they should not stay up all night coming up with the plan, but that he expected it on his desk first thing Tuesday morning.

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ATLANTA --- Dozens of parents spoke out Monday night at the Atlanta public school board meeting, frustrated with the district's enforcement of a policy to provide bus service only for students that live at least a mile away from their school.

The district has been able to consolidate and eliminate nearly 1400 bus stops, pulling 50 buses off the road. 

The move was an effort to spend district money more efficiently, but parents say efficiency shouldn't impair safety. Parents have asked the district to reinstate bus service for every child if requested, regardless of distance.

The district already allows an exception if the child must cross a major intersection to get to school or lacks access to sidewalks. But some parents want vacant or crime ridden homes, as well as sex offenders and violent dogs taken into consideration as well.

Superintendent Erroll Davis says he understands the concerns, but believes the district should only be part of the solution. He wants the district to work with the city and parents to remove the dangers, not bus children around them. 

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