Parents Voice Concerns Over School Bus Stop; District Explains Protocol

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HOWARD CITY, Mich. (May 20, 2014) — The conflict and concern over a bus route seem to boil down to a disagreement over a policy, and what’s best to keep the affected students safe.

Lisa Briggs’ children take the bus to Tri-County Area Schools each day. Their bus stops are located on both sides of M-82 near the intersection of Cottonwood Avenue in Howard City.

“There’s so much traffic. Ya know, it’s not safe for the kids,” Briggs said.

She has a number of concerns, and she brought them to both FOX 17 News and the school district.

Her concerns include buses stopping on the shoulder of the 55 mile an hour highway with only their yellow hazard lights blinking.  Bus drivers don’t use their red lights which would signal other drivers to stop.

“They’re just doing hazard light stops, not controlling any traffic and having semis blowing by as kids are getting on and off the bus,” Briggs said.

Tri-County Area Schools Superintendent Al Cumings said it’s unsafe for district buses to use their red lights on M-82, since vehicles are traveling at least 55 miles an hour.

“On a road like 82, if we have multiple stops, that really impedes traffic and can be dangerous…  especially for the vehicles coming up on each other and the vehicles coming up on the bus,” Cumings explained.

FOX 17 spoke with Michigan State Police Sergeant Jill Bennett over the phone. She said, while school districts
have laws to follow regarding busing, districts also have their own discretion on how to operate in some areas.

Sergeant Bennett said the district can use its hazards as long as there is enough space to pull over to the side of the road.
The sergeant said she looked at M-82 on a map and can understand Briggs’ concern that there isn’t very much shoulder space for bus drivers to use.

Cumings said it’s incumbent upon bus drivers to voice any safety concerns. Also, he said it’s a safety priority to not impede traffic.

“That’s something that we’ll have to continue to make sure our bus drivers are doing at that certain location and that stop and any stops where we’re using our hazards,” Cumings said.

Briggs and other parents, Jodi and Paul Butler, would like the bus to pull off of M-82 completely and onto Cottonwood Avenue. They want the bus to block the intersection. Both Cumings and Briggs said this was done for a length of time during the school year before drivers were told to stop.

Briggs said she talked to ranking officers with the Michigan State Police and the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department.

“They told me that it was preferred not to block an intersection, however, if it was for the safety of the children, it was preferred,” Briggs said.

However, Cumings said, “We’ve talked to multiple people, including people who’ve consulted with the state and made it clear to us that, that’s not a good option to block an intersection. Along with the Michigan State Police, right in their recommendation is … do not block the intersection.”

Fore more on the Michigan State Police stance on school busing, click here.

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  • Guest

    State law says busses don't use their red lights on state highways. The children aren't supposed to be crossing the road on state highways either so no need for the red lights.

  • Lisa Briggs

    Since the busses have started this new stopping before the intersection with hazard lights only, we have witnessed one semi almost hit the bus, 2 very close calls on head on collisions, and twice children and parents almost got hit. All in the last few weeks. It’s NOT a matter of if the road is dangerous, we all know itvis. It’s about the safety of ALL children riding the bus. Laws are made to protect. What gives a school the right to pick and choose what rules to abide and not to?

  • tracyd112

    tO THE PARENTS BITCHING WHY ARE YOU NOT AT THE STOP TO GET THEM? A;SO QUIT CRYING ABOUT THE BUS IF YOU DONT LIKE IT here is a IDEA DRIVE THEM YOURSELF.I BET YOU ALSO DO NOT MAKE THEM PUT ON A SEATBELT WHEN YOU PUT THEM IN YOUR CAR? People cry about stuff they do not know the laws about,Check with the schools or look at a driving rule book before calling the News.

    • Maija Mulnix

      Why can’t the bus just go down cottonwood and drop the kids off at their driveways? That’s the way it was when I attended that school and rode the bus on that route. If the school is all about safety they need to step up and prove it

    • Lisa Briggs

      Tracyd112 We are at the stop every day, every time
      That’s NOT the issue. Maybe you need to learn to read/listen before you type. You just made yourself look very uneducated and silly.

  • Allen M.

    I live on US10 in Mason County and the buses use their red flashing lights! It is a highway with traffic going 55-60mph and people know when the red lights start flashing to slow down. It's called…COMMON SENSE!!!!! when the kids get off, the bus pulls off the side of the road to let traffic go and pull back out when it's safe. Sounds like the school disctric needs to pull their heads outta their butts an rectify the situation before someone gets hurt and People need to be more aware when the bus is letting off kids! Again, if they can do it on US 10, I am sure they can do it on M-82. Just my >02

  • tori

    OK I grew up in a small town and they did what need be to keep kids safe…now I live in Portland OR and our school buses stop both sides of traffic using their stop signs on the bus…mind you stopping traffic…and the kids are safe. Now for the jerk who thinks its possible for every parent to be at the bus stop get real..EVERY day I walk my son to school but it veries on bus route or picked up due to WORK schedules..good luck on this

  • Traci

    Safety appears to be a problem with this school and busing system all the way around. If you are a parent and call to voice complaints, your child will then bring home citations for things like eating a snack on a 1 hour 45 min bus ride home. Or children will be left to prove they were not doing something that the driver says they did. Tri County Schools have gone down the drain, starting with the buses. If your elementary child stands up for what is right, by not moving into a seat that already has 3 students in it, they are threatened with the police by the middle school principal. There is way more to this story than anyone knows. Some parents have no choice but to use this broken busing system, and pray every day for resolution, while being promised by officials that they are working on the issues. Tri County schools have a seriously high drop out rate for reasons. It is not because the kids are bad!