Dad fights school over safety of daughter’s bus stop

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A central Indiana dad says his daughter’s bus stop is dangerous. She gets off the bus by herself, but it’s the location that he says makes it especially scary.

Philip Jackson has a new afternoon routine. He leaves work to meet his daughter at the bus stop every day around three.

“We have some concerns with the safety of our daughter and getting her home,” said Jackson.

Sixth-grader Katherine is the only one who gets off at her stop, so without her dad, she would be walking alone. That worries Philip Jackson because there are no sidewalks and nothing around but trees. I-Team 8 walked the route to see what he was talking about.

Jackson says he reached out to the school district, hoping to move his daughter’s bus stop to a safer spot. He called the school district’s transportation department, but they couldn’t help him. So, he went to the school board, and again, no one helped. I-Team 8 talked with a representative from the Martinsville School District to see why the district won’t move Katherine’s bus stop.

“The issue is that the subdivision is a private subdivision with private roads,” said Jayne Burke, Martinsville School District’s director of community relations and publicity.

However, Jackson got a letter from his homeowners association giving permission for the buses to drive anywhere in their subdivision. When I-Team 8 brought that up, Burke said there is not enough room in the cul-de-sac for the bus to turn around, and they’re worried about buses getting stuck in bad weather.

The following is a discussion I-Team 8 had with the Martinsville School District representative:

I-Team 8: You don’t want the bus to get stuck in the snow.

Burke: Sure.

I-Team 8: But you would be OK having a sixth-grader walk through the snow?

Burke: I appreciate your question, but it’s kind of a hypothetical kind of situation.

Burke said the same thing when asked who would be liable if Katherine was hurt walking from the bus stop to her home. Burke also stated, “We don’t make our decisions on liability; we make them on policy.”

“This stop has been the same bus stop for 10 years,” Burke continued, “and unfortunately we can’t accommodate Mr. Jackson. And we’re sorry for any inconvenience, but we feel like it’s a proper stop.”

When I-Team 8 tried to continue questioning the location of the stop and asked if it could be moved closer to the house, Dr. Michele Moore. the Martinsville School District superintendent stopped the interview.

“It’s frustrating,” said Jackson, “from the standpoint, we hear a lot from the executive leadership of the school corportation saying that first priority is the safety of the students, and we continually hear that message. If that’s true, your actions need to speak alongside your words, and it just seems like there’s a contradictory message going on there.”

The Martinsville School District offered the following solutions to the Jacksons: put Katherine in an after-school program, or have her dropped off somewhere else. But none of the solutions involved her being dropped off closer to her home.

Jackson also reached out to the Indiana Department of Education Office of School Transportation. However, the state doesn’t not have any authority to make a district change bus stops.