Complaint about overcrowded PBC school bus


WELLINGTON, FL (WFLX) - A Wellington mother is filing a complaint with the Palm Beach County School District for help because, she says, her child's school bus is too crowded and therefore dangerous.

UPDATE, TUE 3 PM: Heidi Cote's 13-year-old son took a picture on his school bus Monday showing a student crouching in the aisle because there's no more room to sit. "First, I thought, he was kidding. Who puts a kid on the floor? Wouldn't the bus driver see?" she asked.

Heidi's son says the overcrowding is better Tuesday.

The district says it added an additional bus to the Suncoast Community High School route after Fox 29 aired video Monday night; however, Heidi says, she's called complaining half a dozen times.

"[I] Kept getting the run around. 'This is not the right number,'" she said. "'Let me take your information.' They would take it, and no one would call back."

Some parents tell us bus drivers have even told them, flat out, my bus is too full.

"The bus drove past us again, and we had to run down the street to get it, and the bus driver almost didn't want to pick up the kids. He was like there is no room," Heidi said.

The route from Wellington to Riviera Beach is about 20 miles. Heidi says that's way too long for any student not to be in a seat. "What if there is an accident? If there is an accident, our kids are flying down the center of the school bus."

We're told a district higher up rode the Wellington to Riviera Beach bus Tuesday morning to make sure the students were safe, and, they say, it was not overcrowded.

PREVIOUSLY: District officials said they were not aware of any bus overcrowding, but the mother and son say they have the video to prove that there is a safer way to get to school.

Cell phone video taken by the Suncoast High School student on Monday shows what he says is a bus packed with riders. The teenager, who wishes not to be identified, says there were three or more kids in each seat.

"God forbid there is an accident," said the teen's mother, who also opted to conceal her identity. "It's like a nightmare ready to happen."

The student also snapped photographs showing students sitting on others' laps - or even just right in the aisle. "It's a big problem," said the mother. "There are sometimes up to four kids to a seat," she said.

The woman said the she filed a formal complaint with the transportation department of the school district. She said it was not the first time she was compelled to do this - for the exact same issue. "Two years ago, I also called transportation to see what they could do," she said.

After inquiries from Fox 29, a district official said a staff member will be riding the route R012 but to Suncoast High School on Tuesday to address any problems.

"I don't expect perfection but I expect my kids to get to school safely," said the mother.

The school district was not able to comment on any specific complaint. The staffer from the district was expected on board the bus in question on Tuesday.

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