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Parents speak out against Washington County school bus stop policy

September 05, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- Several people attended the Washington County Board of Education meeting Thursday to speak out against a new policy that restricts the number of bus stops students may use.

Heather Littleton said the policy, which limits students to one morning bus stop and one afternoon stop, has made it difficult for her and her husband to get their 7-year-old child to school while taking care of their 3-month-old daughter.

"It has flipped my life upside down," Littleton said as she cradled her crying infant.

The new guidelines for bus stops were adopted earlier this year to help make students safer, school officials have said.

Some people have argued that the restrictions are unfair to divorced parents.

Colleen Winters and her ex-husband share custody of their daughter. Because the bus will not take their daughter to both houses, Winters has been driving her daughter to school.

"For my family, having to drive 32 miles per day is a hardship," Winters said. "By trying to eliminate a problem, you have created additional ones."

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At the end of Thursday's business meeting, board members discussed ways to deal with the concerns.

Board member Ruth Anne Callaham said the policy should be amended to allow two stops in the morning and two stops in the afternoon.

She suggested that the policy committee re-examine the transportation policy but stopped short of suggesting a consensus on the matter, saying she did not want a consensus to fail and "that be the end of it."

Board member Donna Brightman suggested that school system staff members could look at how the policy defines emergency situations that would warrant exemptions.

She also said the school system could improve the appeals process.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan agreed that there might be room for improvement.

"Sometimes, we set a policy and say 'let's see how it plays out,' and we're seeing it play out," Morgan said.

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