COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some charter school students in Columbus are facing some pretty big transportation issues to start the school year. A major change in the way students sign up to ride the bus has left some kids with no way to get to and from school.
Typically, technology is a good thing. However, some parents told ABC 6 that in this case, not so much. All the problems started when Columbus City Schools switched to an online sign-up system. A number of parents told ABC 6 the switch caught them off guard and their kids were left with no way to get to school.
Summit Academy principal Cheryl Elliott told ABC 6 that she's run into a few big transportation headaches to start this school year.
"It's always been a little difficult, but the school had more control over it because we were the one's putting the busing applications in. We were the ones getting the busing routes, so we could see where the routes were going. It's been really hard, it's a hardship on the parents and total disruption on my daily business here because I'm having kids flow in every day," said Elliott.
Some kids at Summit Academy have literally missed weeks of class because they had no way to school. Elliot told ABC6 that the hiccups revolve around Columbus City Schools' new online transportation request process for charter students. In years past, it was the school that would handle the sign-up. This year, it's strictly in the hands of parents.
"There just wasn't any flexibility in it. It was just a drastic change and it didn't allow any flexibility," said Elliot.
Rose Smith is one of those parents running into issues.
"I missed work. I had to leave work to go get my children," Smith told ABC 6.
After a few weeks of going back and forth with the district, her four kids are finally on a bus route.
"We were all happy because I got to the point where I had to keep them home. They had to stay home, they couldn't get to school," said Smith.
Scott Varner, a spokesman with Columbus City Schools told ABC 6, "We are upgrading our transportation systems this year to go fully online. So the challenges that we faced this school year with families who attend charter and non-public schools is really a one-year thing. As part of this digital transition, the Ohio Department of Education required that families input the information. So, we started working with all the charter and non-public schools last spring to get their families online. Many still waited until right before school to sign up, which caused a bit of a jam. We've had teams working overtime to get everyone a route."
Elliott told ABC 6 that she has been in contact with the district's transportation department, and they are working to help the impacted students. However, she believes all the kinks in this new system need to be worked out as soon as possible.
"We're working on issues, but this can't happen. This can't happen every year, it's just too disruptive," said Elliott.
The district's website actually gives parents of charter school students a step by step layout of how to request transportation for their kids. And it also explains the process a bit more.