HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — A video provided by a parent and taken in mid-March shows students sitting in the aisle of a bay area school bus.
"It looked incredibly unsafe. I couldn’t believe there were kids sitting in the aisles," said Kristen DeAngelo, the mother of a Robinson High school student.
They live in Westchase and her son rides a bus to and from his school in South Tampa nearly every day. They say it's a 35 minute ride one-way when traffic is good.
"These kids should have room to sit comfortably and safely get home," she said.
Right now, she doesn't think that is the case.
"Their backpack is actually little bit larger than this one because they have to have a laptop and several other heavy textbooks," said Jennifer Aguiar, as she points out the type of backpack, lunch box and instrument case her twin daughters take on the same bus every day.
"There’s no clear way out for the kids, there’s kids in the aisle, there’s objects in the aisle, so if there was to be an accident or fire there’s no clear exit for any of the kids," she said.
The Florida Department of Education says the amount of kids per seat depends on the capacity of the bus. The Hillsborough County School district says that particular bus can hold up to 77 children and only 66 ride the bus.
The FDEP adds:
"When circumstances of an emergency nature, as defined by written district school board policy, temporarily require transporting students on school buses in excess of the rated seating capacity, the buses must proceed at a reduced rate of speed to maximize safety of the students, taking into account existing traffic conditions. Each district school board is responsible for prompt relief of the emergency condition by providing additional equipment, bus rerouting, bus rescheduling, or other appropriate remedial action, and must maintain written district school board policies to address such situations"
Aguiar says it's clear there is not enough room and argues the video is a telling sign the students don't think so either. It shows several of them crouched down on the floor, squished between seats.
"Society needs to do better. We need to make sure that we teach our kids that when it comes to something as simple as safety or basic needs that you need to stand up for that and continue to fight for that. There shouldn’t be complacency," said Aguiar.
The district is going to check the security footage to see why these kids were on the floor, but say they can't comment much more than that before seeing the security footage.