ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A group of Round Rock Independent School District parents have taken to Facebook and NextDoor to voice concerns about their students riding home on overcrowded buses. Parents claim their middle school students have been forced to ride three or four to a bus seat. In some instances, the parents say the children are forced to stand in the aisles or sometimes even sit on the floorboard of the bus.
“As part of your tax dollars, you assume that your child has a safe method of being transported to school and you find out that they’re riding on the floor of a bus with no seatbelt… yeah that’s a bit concerning,” Cristina Carpenter, a parent of a Grisham Middle school student says.
Carpenter’s daughter has taken numerous pictures that show overcrowding on the bus. A normal school bus can hold around 52-58 students.
“There are other parents who have notified the school district that this is an issue and the school district is attempting to do something about it, but as a concerned parent, I feel like two to three months is a little bit too long,” Carpenter says.
A spokesperson for the district says when they received the complaints they looked at video from multiple days and found the root of the problem.
“Kids were seated but there were some large instruments in the aisles,” Corey Ryan, a spokesman for Round Rock ISD explains. “It puts the school district in an interesting position because ultimately our goal is to transport kids — not instruments — safely and securely.”
Ryan says in some cases, instruments were taking up entire seats, but he points out — in the videos they reviewed — not one of them showed a student standing or sitting in an aisle. “That does not mean we will not find a way to make a route happen… but that is why we constantly evaluate and do what we can.”
Right now, the district is still looking to fill more than 20 bus driver vacancies. Ryan says mechanics, supervisors and even the director of the district’s transportation department have had to fill in as bus drivers.
“We’re taking a look district-wide as any incident might come up with regards to… the large instruments being on the bus because our priority is kids, but at this point, this bus is not overcrowded by our standards, every kid does have a seat.”
The RRISD has 295 total buses and about 120 of those are Special Education buses which have seat belts.