NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – What appears to be chaos on a Norman Public School bus is allegedly causing some parents to now drive their kids to and from school each day.
“I’m very scared, to be honest,” said Amy Madden, a parent of a middle school student in the district. “Probably more than ten, more than 15 [parents], because I’ve asked if anybody else had problems, are taking their kids off the bus.”
Madden told KFOR she stopped sending her son on the bus after cell phone videos he took captured students laying on the floor, standing in the aisles and even fights breaking out.
“That bus should not be moving until all kids are seated,” said Madden.
She says she’s been going back and forth with the district for weeks trying to sort out the issue, which she believes boils down to too many students being placed on one bus.
“It’s just kids just crammed together. There’s nowhere for them to sit,” said Madden.
Doug McDonald, who was a bus monitor on a Norman Public School bus up until a few weeks ago, echoed her concerns.
“The overcrowding is horrible,” said McDonald. “We have had other drivers talk about being in 59-passenger and 71-passenger buses that had children sitting on the floors and standing because there was no seat on the buses… If it’s overcrowded, and there’s a student sitting on the floor, and our bus driver has to make an evasive action move, brake hard, or turn fast, somebody is going to get hurt.”
However, the district told KFOR at no point this year have more than 55 students been placed on the 71-person bus in the videos.
Their full statement is below:
“The bus you are referring to is a 71-passenger bus and there has not been more than 55 students on it at any given time this year. It’s never our expectation that students would “sit or stand” in the aisles. However, sometimes students don’t want to share a seat. We have accommodated that route by splitting it, and the bus now makes two runs. After the split, we have reduced the number of students on the route even further, and there are never more than 45 students on the 71-passenger bus.
The safety and security of our students and staff is the top priority of Norman Public Schools, and that extends beyond the classrooms to our transportation department. We are proud to have been recently honored by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as the first public school district in the nation to receive the Gold Standard Award, and we believe that recognition demonstrates our dedication to student safety.”Chelsey Kraft, NPS Communications Specialist
According to Kraft, that change happened Sept. 19. However, some fear there’s still a problem.
“From what I’ve seen picking up my son now, when I see the buses leaving now, you can still see that they’re crowded,” said Madden. “I don’t think it’s been handled.”