LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Parents and others are upset and voicing concern about a school bus that ran way later than normal yesterday in Moss Bluff.
School officials say several factors contributed to a few students arriving home as late as 7:15 p.m.
Some parents took to Facebook to express their outrage about how late the one school bus ran Wednesday. Said one parent on social media: "My six-year-old baby girl was on that bus...(and) finally got home at 6:45."
Another comment: "I'm so mad...they aren't allowed to use their phones...she's been on a bus for four hours..."
Shannon LaFargue, chief operating officer for the Calcasieu School Board, says there were a number of contributing factors.
First, there's a shortage of substitutes, so when a bus driver calls in sick the school board has to split up riders among other buses.
"Let's say 70 kids or 55 students, whatever the case may be, and then those students have to be split up into other buses going home to their different neighborhoods," he said. "Yesterday in the Moss Bluff area we had four route splits affecting almost 450 students."
Second, he says in one case timely notification wasn't made to the school, which prevented timely messaging of parents who might want to pick up their children at school.
"Notification was sent to the school in a fashion that wasn't timely. And we are addressing that issue within the department right now,"said LaFargue.
Third: the behavior of children on the bus. He says for safety reasons, drivers pull off and stop when behavior becomes an issue.
"This continued to kind of escalate as she continued her route, and what happened was it further delayed the E.T.A. of those students getting to their appropriate stop," he said. "It got to the point where some of the students were using profanity at the bus driver, hanging out the window, hanging a show out the window, things of that nature that we just can't tolerate on the bus. Our drivers know, we're going to keep our students safe. And she pulled over, she waited, and would begin her route again, but when there was another disruptive behavior, she did what she was trained to do"
Eventually the bus drove to a school in Moss Bluff where parents were contacted to come get those children still aboard.
The school board now wants to hire more bus drivers to improve handling of transportation issues in the future.
For a more in-depth discussion about issues dealing with Calcasieu school bus transportation, look for the web extra on school buses.
For more information on becoming a driver call 337-217-4040 or go to www.cpsb.org.