St. Paul School District apologizes for bus bungle - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

St. Paul School District apologizes for bus bungle

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Can you imagine waiting over two hours for your student to get dropped off by the school bus? Some parents in St. Paul don't have to because that's exactly what happened.

Matt Maury's seventh-grade son is one of 3,400 St. Paul students caught up in school bus blunder on the first day of school. His bus dropped him off at home about 30 minutes late on Tuesday, but even that pales in comparison to other students who didn't get home until after 7 p.m.

"I would say it's not acceptable," Maury said. "That's way too late for kids -- especially when they have schedules and dinner and homework."

Deputy Superintendent Michael Baumann apologized to parents on Wednesday, explaining that about 10 percent of the bus routes were at least 20 minutes late getting students to school or getting them home. A total of 10 routes were missed completely, and it's still unknown how many students didn't make it to class at all.

Baumann blamed construction along University Avenue and Minnesota Central Bus Company, which won a contract with the district for the first time this year and has lots of new drivers, for the transportation trouble.

"Drivers who had not been … properly trained or done enough dry runs to master their route -- which is typically the process a company will go through, especially if they are coming into a new area," Baumann said.

Minnesota Central Bus Company is based out of Illinois and buses students all over the Midwest, including in Minneapolis. One driver told FOX 9 News there is still a driver shortage in St. Paul.

"I know I ran my routes on time and was there with my kids on time," said Deann Gayles. "There were a lot of new people hired, and still routes open. So, they are still filling in the routes."

District officials were on site at several schools as they worked to coordinate things better for the second day of class. Still, about 20 routes were at least 20 minutes late when picking up students from bus stops.

"Our indicators from our performance today [are] better, but they are not where they need to be," Baumann admitted.

FOX 9 left multiple voicemail messages and e-mail messages for Minnesota Central Bus Company at both their local and corporate offices; however, the company has not yet returned requests for comment.

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