Crackdown on DISD bus policy confuses parents

School bus confusion is forcing some pre-K students to find another ride -- some Dallas ISD parents received a notice during the second week of school that their kids can't ride the bus.

The district says it's enforcing a rule that's always been in the books, but it's leaving some kids without a ride.

A parent at J.N. Ervin Elementary School contacted FOX 4 to say that she and several others received notice Monday that their pre-kindergartners who were riding the bus home with their older sibling couldn't do that anymore.

Four-year-old Kaelon Jones couldn't wait to start school, but a week into full day pre-K at J.N. Ervin, his mom is struggling to explain that he may not be able to go back.

“He didn't go to school today,” said his mom, Crystal Jones. “He won't be going to school tomorrow and it's really heartbreaking.”

While DISD says it doesn’t provide transportation to pre-K students, Crystal says her school allowed it as long as 4-year-olds rode with older siblings.

“When I went to register them, that's when they told me, ‘Yeah, no problem; they can ride the bus together. It won't be an issue,’” said Crystal.

So Kaelon rode with his fourth grader brother until Monday afternoon, when the school said it was enforcing a longstanding policy of no 4-year-olds on the bus. 

“The only answer they've given me is it’s against policy,” said Crystal. “Well, if it's against policy, hasn't the policy been in effect all year or last year? Why now?”

DISD says an incident last week brought up safety concerns after another 4-year-old slipped out of class unnoticed at J.N. Ervin and got onto a bus.

FOX 4 reported that the bus driver dropped the little boy off in a strange neighborhood.

He’s OK, but was never supposed to be able to board a bus in the first place. 

DISD says it’s since learned some schools were letting 4-year-olds onto buses and blamed that on miscommunication.

It’s now cracking down on any lapses in district policy. 

“He's been riding since day one. Since the first day of school,” said Crystal.

Crystal was counting on bus transportation. 

She works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Garland.

Her mom watches the kids when they get off the bus, but can’t drive because of health reasons, which leaves the family now hoping the school can work with them to find another option.

“She was just pretty much letting me know that's the policy; they really can't do anything at this time, but she's going to look into other possibilities, but it didn't sound too good so I don't know what's next,” said Crystal.

The district says the policy is in place for safety reasons and should have been enforced at all 150 pre-K sites. 

While the child last week was a very different case, he was getting picked up by his mom every day and boarded a bus without anyone noticing.

The district says it’s taken another look at transportation safety and sent memos to principals reminding them that the pre-K students can’t ride, even with a parent’s permission or with a sibling.

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