The wheels on the bus are going ‘round and ‘round, while bureaucracy is also spinning its wheels at P.E.I.’s Public Schools Branch (PSB).
Wednesday’s Guardian featured a story about Brackley Beach mother Keri Kelly who, along with some other residents on her road, is petitioning the PSB to find alternate arrangements for a nearby school bus stop.
The problem is that Kelly’s 10-year-old son has to catch his bus just outside the home of a convicted sex offender.
Though the Kellys live only 300 metres away, they live on a private road on which provincial legislation apparently prohibits school bus stops.
Despite this, Kelly has collected signatures of some of her neighbours who say they don't have a problem with the bus stopping on their street.
The PSB, meanwhile, has yet to offer an acceptable solution for Kelly and her son. One suggestion was to move the stop down the road, but Kelly says that would require her son to walk a kilometre further from their home, and he would still have to walk by the sex offender’s home on the way.
According to PSB director Parker Grimmer, the schools branch designates pick-up and drop-off points for students, and there is an expectation for parents and caregivers to partner with the schools branch to ensure students get to school safely.
This seems to be a case where parents are indeed trying to partner with school officials on what should be a simple - if temporary – fix, but the branch is not acting fast enough.
Regardless of the nature of the sex crimes for which the neighbour was convicted, parents living nearby should have a reasonable expectation that their children won’t be placed in situation where they could be in harm’s way.
Grimmer himself confirmed that a school bus previously stopped on the private road on which the Kellys live, until a complaint was filed with the schools branch. According to Kelly, the resident who filed the complaint has since moved.
What would the harm be for the Public Schools Branch to immediately allow the bus to stop closer to Kelly’s home for safety’s sake rather than jeopardize a student?
The merits of current legislation regarding school bus stops on private roads can and should be considered in the future, but this is not the time for politics and red tape.
The longer this situation is allowed to continue is one more day the Public Schools Branch’s failure to budge from policy takes precedence over the safety of its students.
EDITOR'S NOTE: After deadline for this writing on Dec. 6, the Public Schools Branch emailed The Guardian confirming this bus stop has been moved to the satisfaction of the Kelly family.