Parents have expressed concern about the continued lack of transportation from Columbus City Schools while the district works to resolve all issues.

COLUMBUS, Ohio. Columbus City Schools are six weeks into the school year, and some parents told 10TV they’re still struggling with school transportation.

Ashley Shenifelt has a 5-year-old son who is visually impaired and receiving treatment Ohio School for the Blind which uses CCS transport.

“Carter started at the Ohio School for the Blind five weeks ago and has not received appropriate or safe transportation through the Columbus City Schools since then,” Shenifelt said.

Shenifelt said it’s hard enough as a single mother, but when her son doesn’t get adequate transportation, that makes balancing work and childcare even more difficult. She said she is outraged by what she calls unreliable and inadequate transportation.

“He had no route at all, and after two weeks he was being driven to and from school in a van. It was great for three days, and then we went into the holiday weekend and when we got out, he hasn’t had traffic since then,” Shanifelt said.

She said he was eventually rerouted, but the arrival time was 5:51 a.m., more than two hours before school started. In addition to long days for a 5-year-old, he was put on a bus with middle schoolers 6-9 years older than him.

“I can assure you that middle schoolers are definitely thinking and talking about things that a 5-year-old shouldn’t be thinking about … so when I found that out, it definitely alarmed me,” Shenifelt said.

She is also concerned that her son was not given a safe place with a car seat and proper safety precautions.

“I definitely hold the City of Columbus responsible,” Shenifelt explained, adding that she hopes that as she and others share their stories, change will come.

Another fed-up parent is Season Williams, whose special-needs son has also been without CCS transportation since starting school. Williams said she’s grateful to have a vehicle, but said it’s ridiculous that the vehicle wasn’t disassembled before school started.

“It’s very frustrating because they have to follow their priority guidelines because of the kids with IEPs,” Williams explained.

Because of the problems, she had to transfer from Westmoor Middle School to Champion Middle School, but the bus to the new school never came.

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced this year with a bunch of kids not being driven or with this transportation. Like, you guys had all summer to work on all of this before the kids go back to school … something had to be done,” Williams said.

We reached out to CCS for comment on these situations and other issues, and they said they are not conducting interviews at this time.

Jacqueline Bryant, director of communications, said in a released statement that transportation is working diligently to resolve all issues brought to their attention.

The full written statement is below:

The Transportation Department continues to improve routes to increase efficiency and has made significant progress since the beginning of the school year. I understand that all transit eligible students that we are aware of have been referred and are receiving transportation services. Including charter and non-public schools for which the district also provides transportation services.

The department reviews routes daily to determine which students are using our transportation services. As students move in and out of the district and routes change, the department level constantly sets the route. According to the ORC, we have 10 days to refer new students. Our goal is one to five days without performance degradation.

Like many school districts across the country, Transportation is still dealing with a driver shortage. The department is working with ODE and our internal teams to determine what additional short-term resources the county can use to make up for the driver shortage. Currently, the department has 679 routes to transport almost 38,000 students. As necessary, the department doubles and even triples routes. They have 538 active school bus drivers with an additional 20 supervisors who also drive. Unfortunately, they are still seeing a daily bounce rate of almost 18%. Active recruitment of drivers continues in the district.

At the beginning of the school year, due to delays in the supply chain, transport experienced a shortage of equipment, extra car seats, vests, etc. for vendors contracted by the department to transport students by van and bus. At that time, the department provided an alternative yellow bus with the necessary equipment or asked parents to drive their teenager to school. However, I was told that all equipment is provided.

The department is seeing a reduction in call wait times, averaging about 2,000 calls per day, down from 3,000 at the beginning of the school year. Most of the calls coming in now are requests for route/stop changes and bus delays.

Transport is diligently working to resolve all issues brought to their attention.”