A neighbor called and complained to the school district about the bus driving into the cul-de-sac. This year the Washington County School District Transportation Department decided that they will pick up and drop off my son on the corner of Indian Hills Blvd and 500 South Cir. which is more than 250 yards from my home. The corner of Indian Hills and 500 South Circle is a very dangerous place to drop of my son because it is a blind corner with average vehicle speeds of 40 mph, and the on-coming traffic will not be able to stop in time should Jacob decide to run into the street. He is unaware of common danger as it states in his IEP. The corner also is far enough away from our home that I will not be able to hear the bus if she is arrives early and needs to honk to get my attention.
It is also safer and easier for the bus driver to come and turn around in the cul-de-sac. Otherwise the driver will have to make a U-turn on Indian Hills Blvd (which is extremely dangerous) or drive much further to get the children to school. I called Transportation and talked with a lady named Penny when I heard from the new bus driver that they would not be delivering Jacob to our home this year. I relayed my concerns about my son, his disability and the dangers of the corner. She said if the bus driver was able to see me at the end of the street, the bus driver could drop him off and that it is "not safe" for the bus to go into cul-de-sacs. She also said that her "higher-ups" told her that special education buses are no longer supposed to go into cul-de-sacs. When I asked if I could take my concerns to her supervisors at the Utah State Office of Education she said that she did not have the phone number but that I could look it up online.
After finding the number on my own, I called the Utah State Office of Education and got in touch with Morelle Martin. He told me that Special Education buses do in fact go into to cul-de-sacs on a regular basis and there is no policy of the buses not being allowed into cul-de-sacs. He did say that if the cul-de-sac was deemed unsafe by the Public Works and Public Safety department then maybe the bus would be disallowed from entry into that specific cul-de-sac. I called and talk to Kevin Cutler at the Public Works Department for the City of Saint George and he looked up my street and let me know that I live on a public road with a "full size cul-de-sac". He stated that cul-de-sacs in general are meant for a full size fire truck to turn around without any problem.
For my son's safety he needs to be dropped off in front of my home like his IEP states, which is, from my understanding, a federally mandated document. Last year the woman who drove my son to school had her shorter special education bus break down, so she had to switch to a full size bus that was also handicap accessible. She had 2 students that were wheel chair bound. With her full size bus she was very easily able to turn around in the cul-de-sac with no problems whatsoever, even on days when there were trash cans out on the street. When the bus driver first started driving my son to school at the beginning of last year there was a time or two that she had to back up to make the full circle when the trash cans were out on the street. She has an aid with her that can look out her back window if there are any hazards or cars behind the bus. The bus driver last year informed me that the same neighbor complained and that her boss at the Washington County School District Transportation Department put pressure on her to 'fix it'. The neighbor would stand outside every morning and watch the bus driver drive around the cul-de-sac and then call and complain often. The bus driver felt pressure from her boss and from the neighbor and out of desperation asked me to help.
We live directly across the street from an LDS church. In order to take pressure off the bus driver, we got a letter from the bishop in charge of the building giving the bus driver permission to use the chapel parking lot, which allowed the bus driver to pick up Jacob without having to drive to the end of the cul-de-sac (which is where the complaining neighbor lives). The bus driver drove through the parking lot for about 3 days and the neighbor came out and took pictures of the bus driver. The bus driver felt she was being harassed and gave up and started to drive to the end of the cul-de-sac until the end of the year. Penny stated that the LDS church complained about the bus going into the parking lot which I know is not true. I feel the Washington County School District Transportation Department has no concern for the safety of my handicapped son and only cares about the ludicrous demands of a complaining neighbor.
I am very concerned that the very people who should be concerned for the well being and safety of handicapped children are not. It is extremely disturbing to me that last year the bus driver even heard about the complaining neighbor. The bus driver's job is to drive the kids in her bus safely home. She shouldn't have to deal with politics or the complaints of crazy people or most importantly undue pressure from her supervisors. I feel this should have stopped last year at the Transportation Department. They should know the law, and that the cul-de-sac is indeed safe for the Special Education Bus or any other school bus. Rather than acquiesce to pressure from one complaining citizen, they should inform that citizen that her complaints are noted but won't be acted upon. Instead, the school district has decided that even though it's ok for a fire truck, a FedEx truck or the trash truck to use the street, they would rather side with the "needs" of a crazy person instead of the law and the needs and safety of our child. At this point we have been unable to determine who at the Washington County School District Transportation Department is ultimately responsible for this decision, but that public employee should be ashamed. Now we intend to exert a little pressure of our own. It's what any mother would do to protect her child.