A shortage of drivers has created less space on some Maricopa Unified School District buses, but an overcrowding policy is being enforced, officials said.
After the parent of a Desert Wind Middle School student posted on Facebook his daughter’s video aboard a bus crammed with children Tuesday morning, administrators looked into the situation.
Joe Quigg said after his daughter told him of the crowded conditions, he asked her to take a video of it. He then posted it on social media and alerted DWMS parents, saying it was illegal and unsafe to operate a bus with children standing in the aisle.
But other parents and the administration pointed out the bus was not moving at the time the video was taken.
“The video clip shown via social media was of a bus that had stopped, and the driver was actually requesting a second bus to come take and transport the students who were not seated and standing in the aisle,” Human Resources Director Tom Beckett said. “The second bus did arrive, and 6-8 students were asked to move to the second bus.”
Beckett said the district has “strict policy expectations” that do not allow buses to travel with students standing or sitting in the aisle. He said, to the best of his knowledge, no students were doing so when the bus was moving.
“We are working on hiring additional drivers and our hope is that the additional drivers will mitigate some of our routing, scheduling and ‘close to’ overcrowding seating issues,” Beckett said.
Meanwhile, the transportation department is “attempting to efficiently use all of our available bus seating while also maximizing our current bus routes,” he said.
Overcrowded buses were a problem at the beginning of the school year, bringing about changes to routes.