GREENHEAD - The 2013 - 2014 school year has ended, but some parents and neighbors in the Greenhead community are challenging a school bus stop policy they say is putting their children in danger. The policy in question is one that prohibits school buses from traveling down some dirt roads or privately owned roads in an effort to protect private property owners from damage to the roads by school buses and to also protect school buses from damage from low hanging branches.
Richard Wakely of Shoreline Drive says he and other neighbors hope to convince the Washington County School Board to pass a clause in its blanket policy before school begins in the fall.
"The policy puts four children, ages six through ten, in danger by having them cross one of our county's busiest roadways," said Wakely. "Four times in as many months, cars have failed to stop when the bus had its stop sign out while dropping off children. This site has been the scene of many accidents, and locals have actually nicknamed the 45 degree curve 'Deadman's Curve'. I don't mind picking the children up from the stop. I'm only concerned about the dangers the stop poses."
The News was unable to receive requested documentation from the Florida Highway Patrol of past accidents.
Meanwhile, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Taylor explains each bus stop is evaluated for safety on a case by case basis.
"The drivers are involved in this process, and we get reports and opinions from them. Student safety is paramount."
Wakely states before the policy was implemented, the bus would travel down the wide, dirt-packed Shoreline Drive route, which features a circular turnaround.
Wakely says he's brought the bus stop to the attention of school system Transportation Director Mike Park and Taylor, and he was unsatisfied with their responses.
"I was told they don't want a law suit for driving down a privately maintained road, and if they change the policy for us, they will have to change it for everyone," said Wakely. "I even presented a petition by the neighbors who said they would grant permission for the bus to drive down the dirt road."
Superintendent Taylor says the school board is currently reviewing all bus stops and will consider Wakely's request.
Wakely says he will voice his concerns and request action when the Washington County Board meets in regular session Monday, June 16.