GCPS Concerns And Attempted Resolutions

April 20, 2007

E-Mail From Grant Reppert – Director Of Transportation

—– Original Message —–
From: <Grant_Reppert@Gwinnett.k12.ga.us>
To: “M. Weingarten” <mweingarten@earthlink.net>
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 3:01 PM
Subject: Re: Missed Bus Pickup – Follow-Up

Mr. Weingarten,

I appreciate your note.  I am doing some additional investigation, and
will
be able to give you some specific answers on Monday.

“M. Weingarten”
<mweingarten@eart        To:
<Sandra_Holloway@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>, <Debbie_Moore@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>,
hlink.net>
<Martha_Stephens@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>,
<Phillip_Curtis@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>,

<Lynne_Davis@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>, <Peggy_ONeill@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>
04/20/2007 07:54         cc:
<lradloff@comcast.net>, <Ronni_Ford@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>,
AM
<Grant_Reppert@gwinnett.k12.ga.us>
Please respond to        Subject:  Re: Missed Bus
Pickup – Follow-Up
“M. Weingarten”

To: Martha Stephens, Peggy O’Neill, Debbie Moore, Sandra Holloway, Lynne
Davis, Phillip Curtis
Cc: Louise Radloff, Ronni Ford, Grant Reppert

Re: Follow-up – Gwinnett County School Bus Missing Pickup Of Corinth
Hills
Subdivision On The Morning Of Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I believe that a serious error in judgment was made with regards to the
bus
incident that is addressed in detail below in my original message. I
believe that Gwinnett County is extremely fortunate that no harm came to
the children in their charge as they remained stranded for over an hour,
and unnecessarily so. As stated in my original message below, all the
driver had to do was turn around after her next pickup, travel the half
mile back and pick up our kids, but the powers that be felt that getting
the rest of the route to TMS on schedule trumped the safety and
well-being
of our children. In my mind there is absolutely no, and I mean no excuse
for leaving 12, 13 and 14 year old children unattended for an extended
period of time, in the street, without a plan of action in order to get
another neighborhood’s children to school on schedule. Someone please
explain to me in writing how it is that Gwinnett County believes that
this
thought process is valid.

Being that this is not the first such incident of a Gwinnett County
School
System bus leaving our neighborhood children stranded for periods of
time
of over an hour and having subsequent correspondence from me ignored by
the
school officials that I addressed, I am sending copies of this
correspondence via USPS Certified Mail to Louise Radloff, Ronni Ford and
Grant Reppert. Should a similar incident occur again in the future with
the
outcome not being as fortunate to Gwinnett County as this incident,
copies
of these documents will be made available to the appropriate
authorities,
attorneys and members of the media. USPS Certified Mail receipts will
provide evidence of possession. I believe that this flawed decision
making
process is a disaster waiting to happen and will eventually lead to a
child
or children being injured by being left unattended for long periods of
time.

The location of this incident yesterday morning is a quarter mile from
the
location where less than a month ago a Parkview High student returned
home
from school only to be viciously attacked, bound and raped. This
incident
was extensively reported on by all local media outlets. Here is a link
to
the Gwinnett County Police Department website regarding the assault:

http://www.co.gwinnett.ga.us/cgi-bin/gwincty/egov/ep/gcbrowse.do?channel

Id=-33941&channelPage=/ep/channel/default.jsp&pageTypeId=536880236

The decisions and actions of Gwinnett County Schools regarding this
incident and the subsequent disregard of concern is reprehensible at
best.

From what I understand, the last time this bus driver refused to turn
into
our neighborhood and pickup our children was due to the fact that
Gwinnett
County DOT had placed a traffic monitor across the road and she believed
that these monitor wires were electrical wires. This incident left our
children stranded and unattended for a period of around an hour and a
half
and upon their eventual arrival at school led to the sequestering of
these
stranded students as I referenced in my original message below. While
not
positive, we believe that the timeframe for this event was last October
while the ITBS testing was being conducted. School login records should
bear this out although my son tells me that it is his recollection that
a
TMS staff member signed in for them. Is it appropriate for a staff
member
to sign-in for a student?

It has also since come to my attention that the same bus driver involved
in
this incident was recently reprimanded by TMS staff for leaving these
very
same neighborhood children stranded at TMS one afternoon. I can only
imagine the reason that this driver was addressed for this particular
incident was due to the fact that it occurred on school property leaving
TMS staff directly responsible for the issue. This reprimand was for an
incident 15 minutes in duration and while the children were still under
the
supervision of TMS staff. We have multiple incidents where children were
left completely unattended for much longer periods of time.

Unfortunately, as stated, there is a disturbing history with regards to
this issue and I want to raise my own red flags and document the issue
at
hand. I have no desire to debate this issue by phone or verbally in any
form in order to avoid any “selective memory” issues that might arise. I
would however be more than happy to receive any explanation that the
county
might have to offer in writing.

I want to also address what appears to be a lack of planning by Gwinnett
County School Systems in the event that a bus is unable to pickup
children
at the scheduled time. We live in a relatively small neighborhood with
only
three stops. If a bus does not arrive on time our children have no idea
as
to what they should do. Fortunately, I was home and available to assist
on
this occasion, but upon making my way to my son’s stop found the bus
rider
kids milling around the neighborhood aimlessly. I believe that there
should
be a plan in place in the event that a bus is later than a designated
period of time – say 15 minutes. The kids should be advised to rally and
consolidate at a predetermined location. The kids and the bus drivers
should have this location marked on the bus route map to avoid
confusion.
There is strength in numbers and this would add an additional layer of
security.

Regards -

Martin Weingarten
1646 Corinth Court
Stone Mountain, GA  30087
mweingarten@earthlink.net

cc (via USPS Certified Mail): Louise Radloff, Ronni Ford, Grant Reppert
xc: esq.

—– Original Message —–
From: M. Weingarten
To: Lynne_Davis@gwinnett.k12.ga.us ; Phillip_Curtis@gwinnett.k12.ga.us
;
Martha_Stephens@gwinnett.k12.ga.us ; Peggy_ONeill@gwinnett.k12.ga.us ;
Debbie_Moore@gwinnett.k12.ga.us ; Sandra_Holloway@gwinnett.k12.ga.us
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:40 PM
Subject: Missed Bus Pickup

To:
Martha Stephens
Peggy O’Neill
Debbie Moore
Sandra Holloway
Lynne Davis
Phillip Curtis

Re: Gwinnett County School Bus Missing Pickup Of Corinth Hills
Subdivision
On The Morning Of Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All -

First, thanks to Ms. Davis and Mr. Curtis for meeting with me this
morning
on such short notice to allow me to address my concerns and for
assisting
in resolving the issue of getting my son into class for testing. Thanks
also for providing an appropriate county contact for me to address…
but,
I would like to take exception with one statement Ms. Davis made having
had the opportunity to reflect upon it for awhile. Whereas I can
appreciate Ms. Davis’ assertion that the county “owns the process of
transportation” and that the process is “out of her hands”, ultimately
she
is responsible for those students enrolled at her school and am a bit
disappointed that she didn’t feel compelled to seek a response that
would
at least attempt to satisfy the situation at hand and remedy same for
any
similar future event.

The situation as I understand it:
Ms. Schwartz, the bus driver, arrived at our neighborhood on schedule
to
find that one entrance was blocked by a Gwinnett County utility crew.
The
driver opted not to enter our neighborhood, but to continue on with the
rest of her route. This decision left 9 children in 6th, 7th and 8th
grade
abandoned without explanation and for a period of over an hour.

There is another entrance to our subdivision less than 1/8 of a mile
from
the entrance that was blocked. This other entrance was completely clear
and on the same side of the road. Our subdivision has several
cul-de-sacs
that would allow for the driver to turn around. Having lived on one of
these cul-de-sacs for 18 years and having multiple county school bus
drivers living in the neighborhood, I have personally witnessed
full-sized
county school buses make these turnarounds on many occasions.

Had the driver turned around after making her next pickups and returned
to
pick up our children, the entire bus may have been five to ten minutes
later than normal at arrival to TMS. Instead a group of students made
it
on time while 9 others were left stranded and unattended. Was this a
wise
decision and is it acceptable?

1. I would like an explanation as to the decision making process that
occurred this morning.

2. I would like to know if this decision was a sound one and acceptable
to
all of those responsible for the safety of our children.

3. I would like to know what the decision would be should the same
situation present itself again in the future. This very same issue has
occurred before with the exception that I was unable to intervene on my
son’s behalf and subsequently he was penalized for the rest of the day,
along with the other stranded bus riders, by having to spend the
remainder
of the day sequestered from the rest of their classmates due to
standardized testing that was taking place.

Regards -

Martin Weingarten
1646 Corinth Court
Stone Mountain, GA  30087
mweingarten@earthlink.net

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