Local: Education

Arlington 'moving forward' with new bus rules

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Photo - Parents in Arlington county are fighting back against new school bus rules.
Parents in Arlington county are fighting back against new school bus rules.
Local,Virginia,Education,Transportation,Taylor Holland

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Pat Murphy said the county is "moving forward" with its new bus rules, despite an outcry from parents.

Parents learned on Saturday whether their children would receive a voucher to ride the bus this year, and many fear for the safety of the more than 9,000 children who are now prohibited from boarding.

Murphy said the schools are prepared to work through the issues that arise, and recognized that anomalies and discrepancies may have occurred.

Parents, including Kelly Fado, whose first- and second-grade children at Nottingham Elementary School weren't given vouchers, are continuing to contact Murphy and school board members for answers.

Fado said her home and nearest bus stop have always been outside the walk zone and in an area never deemed "safe to walk." To get to school, her children would have to walk along a road with no sidewalks and many high school drivers, she said.

Despite her safety concerns, they won't be allowed on the bus this year.

Arlington school officials "say this is about kids walking out of the so-called walk zone and getting onto the bus," she said. "That's a crock. Their disorganization is why we're here."

The walking maps that Arlington school officials have referred parents to since placing new restrictions on county bus routes last month were removed Wednesday because they "did not accurately depict the boundaries" of the walk zones, the schools' website says.

Because of the high volume of appeals filed by parents, school officials re-examined the maps and "realized they were wrong," said schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.

Parents thought they could get answers Wednesday night by attending a "Summer Chat" with Murphy, but Taylor Elementary School parent Caitlin Clark, one of about 20 to attend the meeting before its hosts deemed it full, said nothing was accomplished.

Murphy gave "standard replies" to parents' concerns, pointing them to a call center and an appeals form on APS' website, and didn't address "any of our issues," she said.

Arlington Public Schools is working to update the maps and "will re-post them as soon as they have been revised," a memo on its website says.

Murphy said officials are "expediting the appeals process," which can take up to three weeks.

School starts Sept. 4.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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Taylor Holland

Staff writer
The Washington Examiner