HELP: School district not transporting my child safely

morgaine108

New member
Wanting to see if I can get some advice here. My son attends a special program through our school district because he has a serious speech disorder. His program runs only 2 hours, 5 days a week and this program is only held a certain schools in the district because it is not a large program. He was recently moved from the general "preschool for children with disabilities" to the more specific program for children with primarily speech issues, so he goes to a school now that is further away. He qualifies for transportation, both because of the distance and the fact that he is a special needs child.

We only have one car and for a while I was driving him back and forth to his new school every day, along with dropping my husband off and work and taking my other son to his school. I had requested transportation but apparently the proper forms did not get filled out, so finally I asked about it and very quickly they moved the paperwork through and the following Monday, he started on the bus. He used to ride the bus to his old school as well, but it was a different bus. I am not sure how safe the situation on the old bus was because I was never on the bus to see it. However, today, when I got back to my house after dropping my husband off, the bus was pulled up in front of my driveway, about 15 min early. I guess we are the first on the route. I quickly got my son out of the car and took him over to the bus but the driver said they wouldn't leave yet since they were so early. I said good...since I needed to write his "news" for the day in his notebook. I took his notebook out and began writing and she invited me to sit on the bus and write it....so I did since it was easier than standing. When I finished writing and gave him back his backpack, I noticed, just at a glance, that he was in a Cosco Scenera seat, and his straps were WAY loose and chest clip at his belly. I pulled the chest clip up, but the aide was right next to me, taking his bag, etc. and I couldn't reach to adjust the straps.

Now I am giving myself an ulcer over this and feel I need to address the issue. I cannot let him ride to school like that every day, and I worry that the other kids are also riding this way. The driver mentioned when she invited me on that she not supposed to/doesn't usually allow parents on the bus, but since there weren't any other children on the bus right now it was ok. So, I don't know if confidentiality is the reason for that or some other but her letting me on is what gave me the knowledge of the seat situation and perhaps she isn't supposed to let me do that???

So I guess, I am asking, what is the best way to address this to help keep the kids safe and yet not make the new driver and aide hate me? I found contact info for the assistant director on the website and drafted this letter, but wondered if anyone had any suggestions?

Dear Mrs. Smith,

I am a parent of two children in XYZ ISD and one of my children rides the bus as a special needs student. He attends a different school than his home school because of the program he is in. He just recently moved to this program and moved from his home school due to a change in his IEP. I don't wish to create a bad relationship with his driver/aide but something very much concerns me about his transportation situation and honestly, the situation of all the children being transported in this manner.

Just for background sake, I used to be a registered CPS tech in my home state, so child passenger safety is an interest of mine. Otherwise I may not have noticed this, but the fact is now that I have seen it I cannot let it be ignored as it comprises the safety of the children.

My son's transportation was not set up immediately at the ARD, so I know he was a last minute addition and that may be part of the problem here, but regardless, we are asked what their weight is for a reason, and that is so that they may be placed in the correct seat for their weight. My son is 42 lbs. Granted, there are many seats on the market today that provide a harness for children over 40 lbs, but the car seats that the district purchases are not one of those seats. From what I could tell, they look like Cosco Sceneras, which are a good safe seat for young children but their max weight limit, forward or rear facing is 40 lbs. So, if a child is over that limit they should either be placed in a seat with a harness that has a higher weight limit, or a booster seat. A harness that holds up to 40 lbs is not going to be sufficient to protect him in the event of a crash. I know that compartmentalization on a bus also protects the occupants, but if there are going to be carseats, then they need to be the correct ones for the child.

Secondly, when I saw my child buckled in his seat his seat straps were so loose I could have fit probably the width of both of my arms in between the strap and his body. And, the chest clip was not positioned over his chest, but hanging way down near his belly. Even if he was in the correct seat for his weight, this is completely unsafe. I can only hazard to guess that the straps have not been adjusted for him. And that this is probably the case for most if not all the students who ride the buses with these seats.

I do not want to get my driver or aide in trouble for this, especially seeing how we are brand new to this bus and I would like to keep a positive relationship going with them. But, I would think that the district should have adequate training in place for those who are directly transporting children in carseats and boosters on a day to day basis so that they are educated on the proper use of the seats. Carseats are not effective if they are not used correctly.



Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Andrea
 

Starlight

Senior Community Member
In any complaint, you need to state the resolution you are asking for.

In this case, state your qualifying educational background (you're a former child passenger safety technician - most don't know what CPS tech is), state what you saw (your child in a carseat that he had outgrown and was being used improperly), state your expected resolution (seat appropriate to childs size, all bus drivers and aides trained in proper installation of seat, and of child in seat). If you're in a proper use state, you could also mention proper use, and you could even mention the potential liability. If you personally, or someone you know, might be willing to help educate transportation, you might mention that as well.
 

lpperry

Active member
In my opinion, the letter has too much non-relevant information for the person it is directed to. I think you need to trim it down and get straight to your point and your expected resolution.

I tend to be long winded too, so maybe someone else could trim it down better, but I’ll give it a try. Possibly something like this:

Dear Mrs. Smith,
My child XXXXX rides the bus to ________ school as a special needs student. I am a former child passenger safety technician and I noticed that my child was restrained improperly in an outgrown seat.

My son is 42 pounds and the seat he was in on the bus is only appropriate for children up to 40 pounds. For his safety, my son may not be transported in this current seat again. He must be restrained in a child safety seat that has a weight limit higher than 40 pounds.

Additionally, my child was not properly restrained in the seat. The chest clip was not in the correct position and the harness was not tightened. I would like to discuss what steps will be taken to prevent this from happening again.

I would also like to inquire about what training the district has in place for the staff regarding proper installation and use of child safety seats. I am concerned about the safety of all of the children on the bus, as well as my own son.


I don’t think you need anything about not wanting to get the bus driver and aid in trouble, but if you feel you must, maybe word the last paragraph like this instead:

I would also like to inquire about what training the district has in place for the staff regarding proper installation and use of child safety seats. I want to keep a positive relationship going with the bus driver and the bus aid, but I am concerned about the safety of all of the children on the bus, as well as my own son.

You also need to decide how you want to discuss the issues. Do you want them to contact you about setting up a meeting to resolve these issues? Do you want them to call you to discuss? How is your son going to get to school if they do not have an appropriate seat available at this moment? I think one of the most pressing issues is what are you going to do tomorrow?
 

gagenivy

New member
I like te letter revision. I would not add I don't want the driver and/or aide reprimanded, I would speak with them instead.

Sent from my iPhone using Car-Seat.Org
 

morgaine108

New member
I picked him up today because I had to take him to therapy directly after school. I just put in a call to the assistant director just to address the issue of the seat, and I will speak with her about proper use also when I talk to her, but I wanted to make sure the proper seat would be available for him tomorrow morning. If there isn't, I will speak with the driver and explain to her my concerns and then take him to school myself. I can take him, it's just alot of driving for me and I am having a bit of a physical health issue myself where I am not supposed to be sitting for long periods of time and since he's only there for 2 hours and my husband's office is in the direct opposite direction. My husband's start time is flexible but he has to be there before 10 and my son's school starts at 9:45, so I was taking my older son at 7:45, then taking my husband in, then driving younger to school, then coming back to pick him up at 11:45. It's about a 20 min drive each way, so it gets tiring, but I'll do what I have to. I wanted to send an email cause confrontation makes me extremely nervous, but I have to have that seat replaced before he needs to get on the bus again. Heck, I have an extra seat now I could give them....riding in a booster makes me a little nervous too since he's not even 4 yet. I'll let you know if I get anywhere.
 

morgaine108

New member
I took him on Friday and sent a slightly modified version of the edited email and got one back this morning as I was getting ready to run my family around to all the places they needed to go. The assistant director managed to get a Safeguard seat/harness to use for him (apparently that is the standard they have for boosters when needed but the regular bus he will be riding has ...this one is a spare since the reg one is in the shop....built in harnesses. The Assistant Director sent the trainer with them today to make sure everything was being done properly now. She was very nice about it in the email, but I have a feeling the driver and monitor are less than thrilled with me, but I did try to at least get him a booster through them, but when they returned there still was not one there...so.....

As long as they get him where he needs to be safely, I'll get over it. Just sad cause I had a really nice relationship with his old driver, but then again, I never saw the seats on that bus....
 

Starlight

Senior Community Member
I'm not sure a booster is appropriate - they generally need lap/shoulder belts, and I've only seen lap belts on school buses. Does yours have lap/shoulder?
 

DaniannieB

Ambassador - CPS Technician
A booster probably isn't appropriate, but a SafeGuard harness is appropriate. SafeGuard makes seats that are similar to the GO called the STAR that are specifically for on the bus. Perhaps they refer to them as boosters since they're FF only (a lot of people get confused about that).
 

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