W-S/Forsyth Schools beg parents to pick up kids at bus stops

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WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board said it may be forced to ban students from riding the school bus if their parents aren’t waiting for them at the bus stop.

At East Forsyth and other high schools, school officials said almost every day there are elementary students waiting in the school lobby.

“We just laugh and say we have a nursery school here in the afternoon,” said Trish Gainey, principal at East Forsyth High School.

Current Forsyth County policy says all Pre-K, Kindergarten, and first-grade students must have a parent or sibling older than fourth grade waiting. Those who do not must then ride the bus to the nearest high school as the bus picks up students for its second run of the day.

School staff and administrators at that high school must call parents and wait on the children to be picked up.

“I’ve stayed until 6:00 with some, and it’s not right to support staff to the other jobs they have to do. Somehow we got to get the attention of the adults,” Gainey said.

Last year the system adopted a $10 fine each time there was no chaperone at the bus stop, but because it’s been difficult to enforce, officials said it has not worked.

Instead, the school board is considering changing the policy so after the fourth repeat violation the student will be banned from the bus for one day. The fifth time would mean a two-day ban, and after the sixth time, the student could be banned for the rest of the year.

Lauren Valentine, a mother, isn’t sure that will work.

“Maybe there needs to be a study done and research and conversation with parents to find out why it’s happening. Instead of there just being a punishment, seeing if there are some really specific ways the problem could be solved,” Valentine said.

Still, Gainey said, she’d like to try it and see if it makes a difference with the regulars.

The policy change has passed one reading. A second reading and vote is scheduled in April. If it passes, the changes will take effect next year.

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