At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Dawn Hochspring, Sandy Hook Elementary School principal, and Chris Geissler, Middle Gate Elementary School principal, presented information regarding school bus waivers. The waivers would make children in grades 1-4 eligible to get off the bus alone, if parents so desired.
According to Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson, there has been no policy about whether or not a parent must be present to pick up their grade K-4 child at the bus stop. “We are looking for guidance from the board about whether or not a parent should be there,” she said.
Hochspring said that typical past practice had been to keep elementary school students on the bus unless an adult was there to meet them. “All Star had been dropping off some kindergarteners, but more grades 1-4. When we met the second day of school that raised red flags, because it was significantly different from what our families were accustomed to.”
The Board of Education made a motion to accept the waivers, making it possible for parents to choose whether or not their child should be met at the bus stop by someone the child recognized, or not.
According to Hochspring, the process, if parents chose to sign the waiver, would be that the family signs the waiver which would be returned to school and filed at the school by the school secretary.
The secretary would then provide the information to All Star, which would maintain a list. If no waiver was signed, the child would not be permitted to leave the bus without a known adult. If a child happened to feel uncomfortable about who was picking them up or did not recognize the person picking them up, even with the waiver, the child would be returned to school, under the policy.
Hochspring explained that if parents chose not to sign the waiver, the child cannot get off the bus without a known adult or older sibling.
“If the adult isn’t there, the driver can call All Star, who then contacts the school. We can immediately call the parents, who can be on their way to the school by the time the child is brought back. And if parents can’t be reached the kids will remain at the school. It could be a long night, but their child would be safe.”
If parents do sign the waiver, the child in grades 1-4 can just get off at their stop.
At the end of the discussion, BOE member Richard Gaines moved that the board approve requiring a parent/adult known to the child, or older sibling, at K-4 student bus drop-offs unless a written waiver has been signed by a parent for grade 1 to 4 students. Mr. Alexander seconded and the measure passed with six ayes.
No waiver will be available for kindergarten children.