Charter schools protest DPS busing plan

Charter school and private school students in Dayton would ride RTA buses to school this year instead of Dayton Public Schools yellow buses, under a plan the district is still finalizing.
Charter school and private school students in Dayton would ride RTA buses to school this year instead of Dayton Public Schools yellow buses, under a plan the district is still finalizing.

Principals and parents from multiple local charter schools protested Dayton Public Schools’ new busing plans for the schools outside DPS headquarters downtown on Tuesday.

Earlier this summer, DPS announced that all charter and private school students the district must transport would ride special new RTA routes for 2020-21 rather than traditional DPS yellow buses.

But Angela Snyder, a spokeswoman for three local charter schools, said DPS has not provided those schools or their families with any specifics, including planned routes, student pick-up times or bus stop locations.

ExplorePrevious story: Charter schools upset about busing change

The first day of classes for charter schools Emerson Academy, Pathway School of Discovery and North Dayton School of Discovery is scheduled for just over two weeks from now, on Aug. 12.

“With two weeks until the start of school, DPS has failed to provide any details guaranteeing the safety, supervision, and care for young students and particularly those with special needs,” said Nathan Preston, principal of Pathway School of Discovery. “We ask for Dayton Public Schools to restore safe transportation provided by trained, school-based transportation professionals for all Dayton school students, as required by state law.”

DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said her district’s plan to use RTA buses does meet the requirements of Ohio law. The district transported high school students to DPS and charter schools via RTA last year.

“The decision to bus other age levels on RTA buses is based on the need to become more efficient and effective with the routing of all students in Dayton,” Lolli said.

ExploreDPS fought confusion over RTA switch last year

Lolli said details on routing, pickup times and bus stop locations are not yet available.

“We are not ready to roll out the plan yet,” Lolli said. “I will inform the charters when things are confirmed.”

On Tuesday, Preston and others delivered a petition with more than 500 signatures to the Dayton school board office calling for the restoration of yellow bus transportation.

Snyder said charter schools have not been given guidelines for mask-wearing, number of students per row, or other safety guidelines for the RTA buses.

“This information was supposed to be provided to the schools during the July 13 conference call,” she said. “Two weeks later, there are still no details.”

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Lolli said two weeks ago that RTA routing was “undergoing final reviews” and she hoped all schools would have details by July 17. That has not occurred.

Another significant issue is a dispute about adult monitors that are required on RTA buses when children under age 12 ride. DPS at one point suggested that charter schools and private schools should shoulder part of that cost.

But a July 8 letter from state superintendent of schools Paolo DeMaria says that school districts “cannot impose requirements on nonpublic or community schools in terms of providing staff support or incurring other expenses to meet the district’s obligations.”

No announcement has been made about those adult monitors.

One charter school principal argued DPS was trying to throw charter and private school busing into chaos to lure those students back to DPS schools. Lolli said that’s not true and the district is just trying to improve its long-struggling busing operation.

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