DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — One Dinwiddie mom is “livid” that the bus driver shortage and food and water delays within Dinwiddie County Public Schools haven’t been handled, especially seeing as the district is now in its second month of the school year.
DCPS posted on Facebook Tuesday, asking parents to use the Versatrans app to monitor their kids on buses, to make sure their child brings a water bottle to school because there weren’t enough water bottles and to let them know their child’s menu may look a little different because of the supply chain interruptions with food products.
Mom Tiffany Griffith has been taking her five-year-old to Southside Elementary, saying the bus has been arriving after school starts.
Griffith helps one teacher she knows to take her 5 year old to the same school, and with tears in her eyes, said the driver forgot that child was on the bus Tuesday after school, so the child didn’t make it home until almost 6 p.m.
“The incompetence is just baffling,” she told 8News in an interview Wednesday. “He had no idea he was even left on the bus yesterday.”
DCPS superintendent Dr. Kari Weston didn’t want to go on camera with 8News Wednesday but said that incident was unacceptable. She said she has talked with the substitute driver who realized the child was still on the bus as they pulled into the transportation department Tuesday.
“I am not making any excuses whether its a substitute driver or a real driver they have all been trained on how to do the right checks on the bus in the afternoon after they finish their routes,” Dr. Weston said.
Dr. Weston did say the child was not left on the bus — the bus driver was pulling into the parking lot when they were called on the radio to check for a child who was not dropped off.
“She was out there for an hour, waiting for her son to get off of the bus,” Griffith said about the child’s mom.
Griffith said it’s sad because the children who go to Dinwiddie schools and some are too young to understand how the issues are affecting them.
“They have no idea what’s going on,” Griffith said.
Griffith told 8News Wednesday that DCPS posted to Facebook post on Tuesday about the water and food delays, which was the first time parents heard about an issue with supply chain interruptions that could affect their kids.
“If the schools don’t provide us what we need for our children, what are we supposed to do as parents, but sit back and be mad? And, I mean, because we’re livid. We’re stressed out. We’re livid. And we’re just, we’re done,” Griffith said.
Dr. Weston said although a Facebook post did say the district doesn’t have water bottles, the district does in fact have them, and the post was just to remind students to bring their own due to delays.
“It’s not like we don’t have bottles of water. We do have bottles of water. We were telling them to bring their own,” Dr. Weston said, adding that water is available during the meals.
“It seems like everything this year is pretty much falling back on the parents,” Griffith said.
Dr. Weston said there would be a food delivery Wednesday and that she spent some of the day calling several parents who have come forward, upset about the issues.
The Facebook post also reminded parents to use the Versatrans app to help track their children on the bus, which could help the issues surrounding the bus driver shortage.
However, Griffith and several parents commented on the post Tuesday, saying either their app didn’t work, they didn’t receive a card for their child to use the app or their bus driver didn’t have a working tablet.
“Our bus driver, when she was here, was telling us that her tablet doesn’t even work,” Griffith said.
Two months into school, Dr. Weston said the district is still training employees on how to use the app.
She said she also wants people to know, bus drivers are working hard and so is the district in trying to fix the problems.
“It is a different time and I think we are all expecting things to be exactly the same as they have always been and felt,” Dr. Weston said. “And we are all just trying to do the best we can do in this moment when it’s not quite as normal.”