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Leon County Schools' bus route changes impact ESE students

Posted at 12:02 PM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 12:03:57-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Day two of the bus backlash in Leon County as parents and students start this new year with issues getting to and from schools.

Their first day was met with several route changes and extended delays and now school leaders are working to ease some of the headaches. Superintendent Rocky Hanna got emotional over the issues Monday and called the situation a "colossal failure."

"My sincere apology. The buck starts and stops right here. I appreciate my board member behind me but I am in charge of the day-to-day operation school system and today I failed. And I own an apology to our community," said Hanna. "I promise I will not rest until I get this resolved. I care too much and too deeply about the children we serve to let them down. And whatever it takes, that's exactly what they're gonna get."

Now, we've been getting emails from one particular group of parents.

ABC 27 spoke to a woman whose grandson has autism.

She says with the route change, he has been stuck on his porch at a time he's not used to. That's a big change for students with special needs who sometimes struggle day-to -day on their normal schedules.

The district says bus drivers didn't actually try out the routes until Thursday and Friday of last week. And the district went with a new program to set-up the changes.

That caused hour-long delays for some students, and other parents are telling us their kids didn't get picked up at all on Monday.

A representative for the district didn't go into details when ABC 27 spoke with him about the bus issues. He did however say that the biggest issues surround those students with special needs.

"The majority of our phone calls that we have had have to do with our ESE population," said Chris Petley. "We understand that that is the real problem that this transition has caused dealing with our ESE population."

ESE stands for exceptional students education.

This week the school will excuse absences and tardies. They're also opening before school and after school care for free.

They've also set up a hotline for parents to call for more information. To get more information, call 850-488-2636. To look at the latest bus route updates, click here.