By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 12, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Leon County School District turned to a new company this year to create bus routes, but the transition ended with chaos and confusion at the bus stop for parents across the district.
Monday night, Superintendent Rocky Hanna held a impromptu news conference to ask forgiveness.
"Today we again saw a colossal failure in transportation routing," he said. "I am heartbroken."
Hanna said that the new system crashed late last week, but it was too late to go back to old routes. He thought the district could right the ship, but said things just couldn't come together in time for the first day of school.
"I am in charge of the day to day operations of this school system and today I have failed. And I offer my apology to this community," Hanna said.
A number of panicked parents reached out to WCTV Monday as buses either failed to show up or dropped off kids hours late.
Kathleen Meyers takes care of her two great grand kids. She said the district wanted her first and fourth graders to walk more than two miles to Apalachee Elementary.
The route included walking along Apalachee Parkway without sidewalks, Meyers said.
"I've left numerous messages. I've called the school board. I don't know what else to do," she said.
Hanna said parents flooded the district hotline created to answer questions.
"Please, I beg of you: have patience with us," he said.
Meyers said she understands the district is trying to solve the issue. But she's running out of options.
She doesn't own a car. Instead, she used a neighbor's car to drive the kids to school. But what about the rest of the week?
"I guess they'll sit home, because I have no way to get them there," she said.
The district is excusing absences as the routes get sorted out. Parents can also take advantage of free daycare before and after school.
Hanna couldn't say when the problems would be fixed, only "days..or weeks."
"I care too much and too deeply about the children I serve to let them down. And whatever it takes, that's exactly what they're going to get."
The Leon County Republican Party said on Tuesday Hanna and the rest of the school board needs to be held accountable. The party called for an independent investigation into the installation of the new routing system. The local GOP is also calling for a "full accounting" of who was warned about potential problems with the new system and when they were told about them.