Norfolk parents frustrated over late school buses; district scrambling to find more drivers


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Parents of students at a Norfolk middle school are fed up after they say their kids’ school bus has been late all year long — leaving them to wait out in the elements.

Ayesha Knowles-Carter says her daughter, Aniyjah waits at her stop and the bus doesn’t show up on time 2-3 times a week. She’s an 8th grader at Azalea Gardens Middle School.

“The bus is supposed to come between 7:45 and 7:50 (a.m.),” Knowles-Carter said.

School at Azalea Gardens starts at 8:15 a.m. and Knowles-Carter said the bus’ tardiness is cutting into valuable time at school.

“I’m missing my club in the morning,” said Anijah Smalls. “I’m missing half of my school.”

Knowles-Carter said she’s reached out to the school and says she gets the run around each time.

“When we do ask you for a bottom line, your response is … and this is the response they gave me and I quote because I think it’s a funny response ‘Uhm, I’m not trying to be funny, but is there any way you could take your child to school?’ Isn’t that what public bus transportation for the schools is?” she said.

10 On Your Side reached out to Robert Clinebell, the Director of Transportation for Norfolk Public Schools.

He said the department is left scrambling every day because they’re short about 20 drivers and there’s no permanent driver for her route and others.

Knowles-Carter said the school never made her aware of this.

RELATED: Norfolk Public Schools has 54 openings for bus drivers, is ‘actively recruiting’

“I understand that there’s a bus shortage. I get it,” she said. “I understand that things happen. I get it, but if you know there’s a bus shortage and clearly this has been a problem all year long.”

Clinebell said it’s been a struggle for Norfolk Public Schools for years. However, he said this year it’s different, and worse than it’s been in his 10 years of working for the department.

Clinebell also admitted to 10 On Your Side that buses have been overcrowded. He said this after another mom contacted 10 On Your Side and said kids are standing on the bus.

Clinebell said drivers should never allow kids to stand, and it needs to be reported ASAP if they are.

He also adds the department is working on introducing a GPS program that will allow parents to track their kid’s bus. He said they hope to have this up and running by the end of this school year.

If you have any concerns on the roads, contact 10 On Your Side’s traffic anchor Madison Glassman.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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