Parents React to Laidlaw Decision - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/06/06

Parents React to Laidlaw Decision

The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Public Education's decision to terminate bus company Laidlaw's contract is a hot topic among parents. It's a step those we spoke with say they're willing to take, including at least one member of the school board who's had his own difficulties with Laidlaw.

"I was very relieved," said parent Helen Mervin of the decision. "I'm happy."

Mervin says the board of education made the right decision to drop Laidlaw. She's had chronic problems getting her 8-year-old son, Bilal, to Spencer Elementary School on time. "The past month, it's happened at least four times," she said. "My son has been waiting over 30 minutes at a time for the bus to show and it never showed."

Leaving him alone at the bus stop, and her worried sick. "He's a sitting duck for predators and if I'm at work, I'm concerned about him not getting to school on time as well as arriving home as late as 5:30 in the evening, when school ends at 3:15."

Over the last several months, the school district has fielded a steady stream of complaints. Board member Daniel Frazier has gotten plenty at his office, and especially his town hall meetings. "I would say about 50 percent of the conversation is about Laidlaw and the concerns about children getting to school and from school safe and on time," he said.

He says he's dealt with it personally, too. "I have relatives in school that I've had to take to school because the bus has not picked them up."

"It's hard. It's hard," said Mervin. "You can't make it through the day not knowing if your child is safe at school where he should be or if a predator has picked him up and kidnapped him."

Now she's hoping next year, she'll have to worry a little less. Parents like her are hopeful things will change at our schools, some of which have buses that arrive 20 to 30 minutes late, throwing off their class schedules.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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