MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — After cancelling school for two days and promising improvements in the bus schedule, Muncie Community Schools welcomed students back again Tuesday.
Some parents however, say they still had to drive their children to get them to class on time and keep them away from dangerous situations they say their neighbors have encountered.
“They don’t want to ride the school bus,” said Susan Clark, mother of two middle school boys in Muncie. “They’re scared they’d get lost or displaced in a different neighborhood. I’m scared for their safety, too.”
Clark said since Auxilio Transportation won the bid for Muncie Community Schools last year, switching from longtime company M & M Transportation, she’s been concerned about big changes in bus stops and schedules. She learned her boys’ new bus stop late this summer.
“They have to walk six blocks down the road and stand in front of a bar,” said Clark. “And that bar is busy day and night.”
Clark said her boys have yet to ride their school bus this year, since she drives them each day despite her work schedule. She said others who have started taking the buses have reported nightmare experiences.
“There’s been a lot of kids been dropped off in different neighborhoods,” Clark said.
She said her neighbor’s daughter was dropped off Monday six blocks from home. The 6-year-old girl wandered around crying before her mother’s friend caught sight of her and took her home.
Clark said her two boys aren’t reacting well to those stories.
“From kindergarten from this year … they knew which bus to ride and they weren’t scared at all” Clark said. “This year they’re afraid.”
Previously, Muncie Community Schools have provided reasons for the bus problems, including the closure of three elementary schools, prompting redistricting; hiring a new transportation company, Auxilio; and a number of bus drivers quitting this summer.
However on Tuesday, Ana Pichardo, communications director for Muncie Community Schools, refused to answer our questions about continued problems with bus stops and routes. Pichardo also denied our news crew a previously scheduled interview with staff at the independent transportation company Auxilio, stating all requests need to go through her. She also refused to allow other school administrators to speak to our news team.
Some parents said news like this makes them feel conflicted.
“I like the school district. We’ve always been in Muncie Community Schools,” Clark said. “I would hope that they would be more concerned about the children, but it doesn’t seem like it.”
“Way to keep Muncie in the news,” added Pamela Bartley, another concerned parent of three boys.
Bartley drives her kids to school every day in a carpool with other moms.
“I don’t want my sixth-grader lost and not knowing how to get home,” Bartley said. “They’ve more than dropped the ball. These are our children; we’re trusting them with them. I have no faith in them now. None. It’s just inexcusable.”
The Muncie Community School district has a regularly scheduled trustee meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at 2500 N. Elgin St. Transportation issues or public comment were not listed on the agenda.