Frustrated father of Ribault Middle School student wants answers after he says bus didn’t show up twice this week

A father of a Ribault Middle School student wants the bus driver shortage to be handled differently after his child’s bus did not show up twice this week and is being left with more questions than answers regarding this issue.

Clarence Williams said not having enough bus drivers means kids are suffering by getting to school late. However, he said the main issue is the way the bus contractors are handling the shortage and how they are talking to parents who have questions.

“It’s frustrating as a parent,” Williams said.

Williams said his frustrating day started early Friday morning.

“We got out here and noticed the bus hadn’t showed up,” he said.

Williams said this is not the first time this has happened and that he understands there is a nationwide bus driver shortage.

Duval County Public Schools sent News4JAX a graph that shows they need 56 drivers between the two bus contractors they use, Student Transportation of America (STA) and Durham School Services.

This is an improvement from earlier this school year when DCPS told News4JAX it was short more than 130 drivers.

Williams said he could get past the school having a driver shortage, but what really bothers him is the way an STA worker spoke to him.

“They have an attitude,” Williams said. “For you to tell me that I need to catch an Uber every day to take him back and forth to school or you telling me something else, why not try to help me find out what’s going on.”

DCPS sent the following statement regarding the bus driver shortages at Ribault Middle School:

“Unfortunately, the national bus driver shortage that school districts have experienced over the last few years is continuing to impact our bus service as well. We have been very open with the community and the media about the steps we are taking to address the situation. We are happy to connect this parent with our transportation leadership so we can work together to resolve his concerns. Regarding our transportation vendor, we absolutely expect them to operate at the level of service outlined in their contract. When that does not happen, we work with them to understand the issues and hold them accountable when appropriate.”

Williams said he feels for the companies that have these shortages but wants better communication when it comes to his son, and when the bus won’t be there.

News4JAX took Williams’ concerns to STA, and we are still waiting to hear back. We also reached out to Durham School Services and are waiting for a response.

Durham’s website shows two openings. STA has more openings, and it is offering a $3,000 sign-on bonus for some positions.

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