On August 31rst I asked Holly Ogden, the Head Start coordinator if they were going to be providing bus monitors/transportation assistants on Head Start buses as this is a key requirement [Transportation, 45 CFR § 1303.70 (2016)] of every Head Start nationwide. Holly told me that students were to be accountable for themselves once they are put on the bus and that parents must explain this to their 3 and 4 year olds. Then, on September 8th Shoreline School District and Head Start lost my 4 year old preschool student when they put him on the wrong bus and then left him at the last stop alone wandering around until he found my neighbor who was able to call me. A key element in transporting Head Start students to ensure that all Head Start Grantees and delagees (shoreline transportation) meet the provision of active supervision at all times including on the bus. When I followed up with Head Start they refused to acknowledge my request for information and how they were going to make sure my son would not be lost again. They completely stonewalled me and refused to acknowledge I had made any of the nine requests I made for information. On September 19th I went to the superintendents office and spoke to Kathie Schindler who said she would call Head Start herself. Going to the Superintendents office did force Head Start to respond to me. The very same day I finally received a response from Hillery Clark the director of Shoreline Head Start but it was to say that she never told me she would get back to me and apologize for the incident. Next the program attempted to cover up what really happened. I was given a three sentences false written account of what happened. [On September 8th I also received a voicemail from Hillery Clark where she did not even get my students name correct and falsely said that my student was safe the entire time, this too was false]. Only when I was able to provided a witness to my son being left unaccompanied at the bus stop and him finding her because he was lost did the program then admit to me the truth, but I have still not received that in writing. My neighbor (who also happens to be a Head Start employee) wrote me a written account of how my son found her after being alone at the bus stop for some time. Brian Shultz the Assistant superintendent called me after I forwarded him the true account from the Shoreline School employee/Neighbor. He told me that Transportation are a separate entity and if I don’t get the desired result from Mary Sherman,the director of transportation, I would have to follow up with her supervisor. He did apologize on behalf of the school for the lack of transparency in the incident. However when I met with Mary Sherman, today she told me the investigation as to her bus driver letting my preschooler off alone was Head Start’s department. Today Mary Sherman, told me she didn’t believe that my witnessed account from the shoreline school employ was true. She stated that she did not even talk to the bus driver who had left my son alone at the bus stop because she did not believe the driver had done anything wrong. Mary Sherman denied that she told me on September 12th that she would look into the situation and get back to me. She also denied that another school official called her on my behalf the next day, even though I told her I have documented evidence from that school official she called her. I have no idea who I need to talk to to get a result and an honest account of what happened. It appears to me that Shoreline School District and Transportation have decided that they are not liable or answerable for their own negligence. On the day in question two preschool age children were put on the wrong bus and my son was lost because of. If Shoreline Transportation had complied with their own policies and followed the Federal regulations involving Head Start student transportation my son would never have been abandoned at the wrong stop. The refusal of school officials to acknowledge what happened, report it to relevant administration and investigate it properly means that every day the safety of the thousands of students in their care is not secured. Mary Sherman has told me that she will investigate the facts and truth of my accurate account, in the meantime the bus driver is still driving around unaware of his/her absolute negligence and Mary Sherman does not even care. I do not think I will get an accurate response because every time I have tried I have been cut off, misdirected, given incomplete and false accounts and lied to. At the very least Shoreline Schools and Transportation should ensure they are complying with their own policies and regulations. That is all I am looking for. Having my child ride Shoreline Transportation is like playing Russian roulette. Everyday I leave him at school I do not know if he will be returned to me. I’ve been told I should be grateful that he can even ride the bus. If he were to not show up I would have no clue where he is, and neither would the school because the Shoreline School district and Transportation do not investigate or even hold themselves to their own standards. Instead they lie and try to cover up anything ever happened. As a low income parent I have no choice but to utilize school bus transportation. They know this and act untouchable because of it.
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