LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A Lynchburg mom went through a scary afternoon on Tuesday. She says for more than an hour and a half, nobody with Lynchburg City Schools knew where her children were.
“When I realized that my five-year-old was totally lost on a bus somewhere in the City of Lynchburg, that was the most horrific moment,” said Ali Rosenberger.
As she tells WFXR News, there was a series of mix-ups caused by new routes as more children started going to school four days a week. It’s something she calls unacceptable.
Rosenberger is a single mom who works during the day. Her nine-year-old daughter uses a cell phone kept in the home to text when she got home. Rosenberger realized on Tuesday, April 13 the cell phone was in her purse, so she left work to drop it off at home, around the time her daughter’s bus arrives.
When her nine-year-old daughter didn’t arrive and couldn’t text saying she got home, Ali knew something was wrong.
She started making calls to Lynchburg City Schools: 29 calls in an hour and a half.
“They told me she was on the wrong bus and that the radios were too busy and to reach out to the school. The secretary of the school was able to confirm through multiple people that she was put on the correct bus but that the busses were running late.”
The district also couldn’t track down her five-year-old son.
“They had told me that he might have been accidentally dropped off at the wrong child care center, so I dashed over there. They told me that he was probably heading back to the school, so I went to the school that he attends, I went to the aftercare program where the school is. No one could find where he was.”
The drive time between her son’s elementary school, Paul Munro, and Bedford Hills Elementary, where his after-school care center takes place, is about five minutes.
At one point, she says she was told both of her children were on her daughter’s bus, which eventually arrived on their street more than an hour late.
While her son was not supposed to be on a bus with his sister, Rosenberger felt momentary relief, believing her children were safe and together.
“I really had all of my eggs in the basket that both of my children were going to get off that bus. When Oliver didn’t get off the bus, I panicked. I stood in the middle of the street and I wouldn’t let the bus leave. It was terrorizing. It was the worst minutes.”
She urged the bus driver to use his radio to find her son. More conflicting information came in, including that Oliver had been dropped off somewhere else.
Finally, at approximately 5:20 p.m., Rosenberger said they were able to find out which bus he was on, and the driver was told to drive to Rosenberger at Bedford Hills, where she had gone in the hopes of finding him at his after school program.
Five-year-old Oliver eventually made it home, more than an hour and a half late.
“We can track pizza and packages better than we can track children in Lynchburg City Schools transportation, and that’s unacceptable. It is 2021.”
She says the district needs to take action and invest in a tracking system.
“The school, transportation, and parents need to have an app that they can see exactly where their children are and what stop that bus is at along the way. There’s no reason that the principal at my kid’s school was calling and fighting right alongside me to get transportation to give me information and they couldn’t.”
District officials did not make themselves available for an interview.
A district spokesperson sent us the message they sent to parents on Tuesday:
Dear LCS families of PreK-2 students,
We are having a great day today with more students in our classrooms. As the end of the day approaches, please be patient with our transportation team, as bus drop off may be a little later than usual. We do ask that you arrive at your child’s bus stop at the usual time. If you do need to contact us, please call our Transportation Department at (434) 515-5100.
Also, please remember that attendance is taken daily for all hybrid students, so if your PreK-2 child does not come to school on Tuesdays through Fridays, they will be marked absent for the day they are not at school. Mondays will continue to be remote learning days.
Thank you!Courtesy of Cindy Babb, Communications Coordinator, Lynchburg City Schools