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Overcrowded school bus raises safety concerns for parents

Duval County school officials say additional bus route to be added

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An overcrowded school bus has forced some Ribault High School students to sit in the aisles, or stand, parents concerned about their children's safety told the News4Jax I-TEAM.

Johnny Bishop, whose daughter rides the bus, said Tuesday that the problem had been going on for weeks, but got worse in the last few days. 

Bishop’s daughter, a senior at Ribault High, rides the First Student bus, which is contracted by Duval County Public Schools. The father said when he first learned about overcrowding on his daughter's school bus, he couldn't believe it. 

"It makes me feel as if the bus driver doesn’t care about the kids’ safety," Bishop said.

No matter what, Bishop said, the driver should have known the situation wasn't safe. 

"The kids’ safety is more important than collecting a paycheck. I know his responsibility is to transport kids to and from school. However, their safety is the No. 1 goal," Bishop said.

His daughter, Janae Bishop, said overcrowding on the bus was so bad, that she was forced to stand up for the entire trip Tuesday.

"They pick us up in the morning. We’re, like, the third stop. It’s three to four to a seat. Some people standing up and that’s how we get to school every day, for the past three weeks," she said.

At one point, Janae said, she said she felt so unsafe that she asked to get off the bus.

"It’s not safe and he could have at least let me off the bus when I asked to get off," Janae said. 

Duval County Public School officials told the I-TEAM that they were aware of the problem and reaching out to the bus contractor to resolve the issue.

Bishop said it should have never gotten to this point in the first place and demanded changes be made.

"School bus transportation is supposed to be the safest way of travel to and from school. But with the students standing up in the aisle, that’s not acceptable," he said.

Just hours after the I-TEAM reached out to the school district, officials called Bishop Tuesday evening to inform him that they will be adding an additional bus route to pick up any students who won't fit safely on the primary bus. 

Anyone with a story idea for the I-TEAM to investigate can email iteam@news4jax.com or text 904-479-NEWS.