The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Bus issues raise concern for some U-46 parents
By Seth Hancock
Barb Di Giulio, a mother from Bartlett, has had a frustrating few weeks in regards to issues with the School District U-46 transportation department.
In a letter to the editor, Di Giulio said that “three times in the last six weeks” she has had a child left at school or the bus stop and when she addressed her concerns with the transportation department she was met with excuses and rude behavior in lieu of assurances those concerns were being taken seriously.
Di Giulio later spoke to The Examiner and said with her last complaint they “just told me they forgot” leaving her feeling that there are no “checks and balances.”
Although understanding that mistakes will be made, Di Giulio said they happen too often.
“Every year they act like this is brand new and they’re learning what to do,” Di Giulio said. “They’re paid to do this. Why does it happen so frequently?”
The Examiner inquired about what checks and balances are in place and Mary Fergus, director of school and community relations, responded.
On if a parent has an issue or complaint, Fergus said the parent should first contact the transportation department via phone at 847-888-5095 or by emailing transportation staff. Those email addresses can be found on the transportation page at u-46.org.
Di Giulio posted her frustrations on social media, and several other parents in the district responded. Although some said they’ve never had an issue with transportation, many others said they have and the problems are nothing new.
Some of those complaints echoed Di Giulio’s complaints of children being left at school or bus stops, but others ranged to as serious as students being bullied by staff. The common theme of those that had complaints was that their concerns weren’t being taken seriously, one parent describing it as being “treated like a criminal” for addressing a concern.
If a parent feels their concerns aren’t being taken seriously, where do they go?
Fergus said that there are “several levels of authority” including “dispatchers, assistant route manager, route manager, assistant director and director of transportation” within the department and “we encourage parents to contact these individuals prior to contacting the District Office.”
The Examiner addressed a few specific concerns, including Di Giulio’s, and Fergus said that Andy Martin, director of transportation, has spoken with these parents “to provide an explanation regarding the concerns they expressed.”
Fergus said that the district investigates complaints and uses the video and audio systems as well as GPS. She said video and audio is available in two-thirds of the district’s buses and GPS is in place in every bus.
The investigation “depends on the complaint” Fergus said, but “we question the driver and ask them to provide a written statement regarding the allegations” and “we ask the school staff to question or investigate by talking with the students and we check the employee’s personnel file for any previous complaints filed along with any previous disciplinary action taken against the employee.”
“If the allegations were found to be true through our investigation, we would enforce progressive discipline as outlined in the labor agreement between the transportation union and the Board of Education,” Fergus said.