Kids who walked long, dangerous route to school get to ride bus again

District reinstate bus route after new measurement

HAINES CITY, Fla. - Some students in Polk County who had to make a long and dangerous walk to school are now able to ride the bus again.

Over the summer, the district cut thirty routes throughout the county where students live within two miles of school -- including a route in Haines City that impacted about 35 kids at an apartment complex.

For the first week of school, many of them walked if they couldn't find another ride. ABC Action News aired a story last week showing the unsafe and exhausting journey kids would have to make every day.

It looked like the days of riding the bus were over, but on Thursday the school announced a change of heart.

"Phew! It's such a relief and a blessing," said Iris Reyes, who has been fighting the district to reinstate the route. "Every time I told a parent, they were so excited and jumped for joy, and they hugged me and told me thank you."

Director of Support Services, Rob Davis, said he personally walked the route after our story aired.

"As a parent, I would not let my child walk it, no," he said.

He aggress parts of the walk are dangerous, but says that responsibility falls on the parents.

Even though students are forced to walk in the road at times, the path is not what the state considers "hazardous".

But Davis found a different discrepancy.

"We did another study, we looked at it, and we have two sources saying that it's over two miles, so we added the service back," he said.

By law, districts must provide transportation to kids who live more than two miles away.

As of now, the Haines City bus route is the only one the district decided to reinstate. There are still 29 other routes that have been cut because they're less than two miles from school.

"Every call complaint concern that comes in, we're going back out and re-measuring to be sure. And if there's a way that we can do it, we will," Davis said. "We just can't do it under two miles."

Other parents are still trying to fight the money-saving move.

Many didn't realize the privilege of bus service, until they lost it.
 

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