Several parents spoke out to the North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) board yesterday, complaining about the lack of accommodations from its transportation department for safer alternative bus routes.
Parents expressed their frustration with the NTPS transportation department during the public comment segment of the regular school board meeting on Tue., Oct. 5. One parent, Molly Hoghaug said that she wanted the board to consider a reasonable alternative to an unsafe bus stop. The mother of three explained that she and her first-grade son had to walk on a busy street to reach his stop every day.
Aside from crossing two busy streets, Hoghaug also shared that some portions of the street do not have a shoulder or a sidewalk. “The transportation department told me that this route is safe,” Hoghaug said, adding, “I am here to tell you it’s not. … It’s very worrisome to me that they [the transportation department] do not take parent safety concerns when making decisions about bus stops, routes, and walk zones.”
Hoghaug also claimed that she had to drive her son to school for the entire week when the transportation department refused to compromise after they temporarily moved the bus stop a mile away from her house. Eventually, she said that the department agreed to temporarily pick her son on a nearby street, although it took several days of communication before they reached that agreement.
“When a department ignores parents over and over again, it sends a message that efficiency over families and students,” she said. In addition, Hoghaug’s mother, Judy Brown also sent an email to the school board to advocate for her daughter.
Another parent, Scott Dehem, shared a similar concern. Just like Molly Hoghaug, DeHem said he had repeatedly reached out to the Transportation Department over safety concerns on the changes in the bus routes. He shared, “in my numerous interactions with the Transportation Department I begged for parent input and collaboration into the decision-making process. These were shut down and better yet ignored.”
DeHem and Hoghaug believed that the Transporation Department’s lack of concern for safety and accommodation runs contrary to the department’s core beliefs.
Retired Nisqually Middle School teacher Craig Brown (Molly Hoghaug's father) also asked the help of the school board to change his grandson’s unsafe bus stop location. The former educator explained that his grandson had to cross two busy streets every single day. Brown believed that these changes are something that the Transportation Department can accommodate as he concluded that, “all these little acts of compassion to help the people... that the school serves.”
The school board did not responded to these complaints at the meeting.
CORRECTIONS and Editor's Notes:
10/7/21 -- We corrected the spellings of two of the parents named in this story and clarified that the lack of response from the school board is limited to this meeting. We anticipate providing additional coverage on this topic.
10/11/21 -- Judy and Craig Brown are Molly Hoghaug's parents. Rather than representing a different child, they were reinforcing Hoghaug's position.