Meet Your Kindergartener at the Bus…or ELSE

It erkifbdthd
happened about 1,600 times in the last school year: Bus drivers in Hillsborough County arrived at the bus stops in the afternoon with kindergarten students who had no parents or guardians to meet them.

So begins an article in Florida’s Tampa Bay Times describing the terrible scourge of parents who trust their kids to walk home from the bus stop.

The problem, from the school’s point of view, is that if a security detail parent is NOT present, the child must be returned to the school, wreaking havoc on the bus schedule. But listen to the wording (boldface mine):

More than half the incidents involved repeat offenders….

District staff hope to cut down on these incidents by tweaking their current procedure.

They’ve drafted an “initial KG bus letter” that school administrators can use as often as they like to get the message across. If the violations continue, a second letter orders the parent to come into the school for a meeting to try and pinpoint the reasons.

As a last resort, the district’s chief of security will get involved. After sending out yet another letter and meeting with the parent, the chief will determine whether the district can handle things or child welfare officials need to get involved.

Parents who trust their kids and their communities are being treated like criminals. And yet, the way to solve this whole problem is so obvious: Scrap the policy and let the PARENTS decide if their kids are ready to walk home from the bus stop. Parents who don’t think their kids can handle it  can feel free to wait at the stop. The others can be absent. And if the real problem is a lack of sidewalks, then do something about THAT rather than threatening the parents. – L

Meet your kindergartener at the bus...or ELSE.

School “cracks down” on parents who don’t meet their kindergartener at the bus. 

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117 Responses to Meet Your Kindergartener at the Bus…or ELSE

  1. FancyJelly November 18, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    In my town in Maine it is worse, I have to be with my child at the bus stop in the morning and there for drop off in the afternoon through 4th grade!!

    I can see the bus stop from my kitchen window where I sit and work every day; it’s less than a football field away. If I’m not out there at the right time, I get angry calls from the school and bus dispatcher. I wouldn’t mind this as much if the bus came at the same time everyday but it can be +/- 15 minutes and I live in Maine. It gets cold waiting outside in the late afternoons this time of year.

  2. forsythia November 18, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Another example where administrators will whine incessantly about “parents not doing their jobs”, and then they will pitch fits if parents are allowed to actually do their jobs without “expert” micromanagement!

  3. forsythia November 18, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Fancy Jelly: we had no requirement to meet kids at the bus, but I did if I could. However, I had a nannyish cat who would start bugging me if I wasn’t getting up from the computer 5 minutes before the bus arrived. I finally figured out that he could probably hear the bus enter the far end of the subdivision (it made a loop) when he bugged me a bit earlier than usual and I went out and there was only an oil delivery truck with a similar sounding engine.

  4. Uly November 18, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    What an adorable cat story!

    As far as the article goes, sheesh, if it’s just ass-covering send home a form to allow them to be dropped off unattended and call it a day.

  5. Doug November 18, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    I suppose if I dressed in full tactical gear, complete with a rifle, they’d complain about that too.

    I am really not looking forward to my son starting kindergarten next year.

  6. Stacy November 18, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Our district’s unofficial rule is that a kindergartner must be met at the bus stop or get off the bus with an older sibling of any age, now that kindergartners are full day and no longer get their own stop in front of their house. That seems reasonable, especially when drivers have discretion whether to enforce it. I think a blanket rule being enforced on “repeat offenders” is silly. But I do think it’s wise for a bus driver to use her discretion when a kindergartner who is usually met at the stop gets off alone. When that happened in our neighborhood last year, it was because the parents got their signals crossed and no one was home to unlock the door.

  7. Neil M. November 18, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    This policy is quite a celebration of privilege. Although I am sure every parent would give his/her eye teeth for the opportunity to walk Jimmy or Suzie home from the bus stop, some parents have jobs that ensure that Jimmy and Suzie have food and shelter. If the district wants kids escorted 24-7, the district should shell out the money to make this happen and not harass parents who are often doing the very best they can.

  8. RedBlue November 18, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Our bus has been anywhere from 15 minutes early to 45 minutes late this year. It’s supposed to be at the stop at 3:50pm, but it arriving anywhere near that time is a pretty rare occurrence.

    The kindergartners are supposed to be met at the bus stop, but given the absolute inconsistency of the drop off time this year, I suspect many parents are glad it is not being enforced. Also, 40 kids get off at our stop (it’s one consolidated stop for now five subdivisions). I think the bus driver has no desire to enforce that rule either.

    Most of the kindergarten parents have told their kid to hang out with a particular person if their parent is not there. I’ve hung out with groups of them on days that the bus is particularly early (I do walk over to met the bus–as my afternoon walk, and to ask my son whose house he’s headed to this afternoon).

  9. lollipoplover November 18, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Stories like this make me grateful (even on this blustery cold day when my kids are wearing face masks and gloves) that my kids bike and walk to school. No need for silly rules when the kids are responsible for their own commute.

    We used to have a bus. They had bus stop rules like this. Does anyone talk to their bus driver anymore? Ours was lovely. She knew I had an infant that napped during the afternoon bus drop off and that my son and daughter(who was in kindergarten) were fine getting home from the bus stop without me. Sometimes I stood outside the house to wave to her. I always sent her cookies and small presents for helping me work out a solution so I didn’t have to wake the baby up for a ridiculous rule.

  10. FancyJelly November 18, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    forsythia: May I borrow your cat? Or can he train my cats to do the same thing? 😉

  11. SOA November 18, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    I walked home alone in Kindergarten. It was super close and not a far walk and I usually had other kids to walk with.

    I think they should leave it to the parent to decide if their kid can handle it or not and if need be have them sign a wavier saying they give permission to drop them off without a parent present. So that covers the school’s liability and makes the parents happy.

    If a group of kids are getting dropped off at once of varying ages can they not watch out for each other? And some bus stops are literally like at the end of the driveway. Are they seriously saying the kids cannot handle walking up their driveway alone?

  12. Amy November 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    My daughters walk a block and a half – literally 0.15 mile – to school and back each day. There is a crossing guard at the only intersection they cross. They are in 2nd and 3rd grade, so I let them go alone, in spite of the fact that many of the parents from our neighborhood accompany their kids to school and wait for them at dismissal. I always feel like the other parents think I’m neglectful for trusting my kids, but I remember walking 0.6 miles (I looked it up!) to school, alone, in kindergarten, and I lived. I had to cross many streets alone, and only one of them had a crossing guard.

    Anyway, this morning it was -10 with the windchill, so I sent a jokey email to the teachers asking if my kids had arrived with all of their fingers and toes. I got notes back that they were just fine, and the third grade teacher sent me this, when I said that I probably should have driven them (I didn’t because the road construction in front of the school makes driving a nightmare, but it doesn’t impact their walk at all):

    “You’re doing a good thing for them by helping them to become more independent! That’s a gift you’re giving them.”


  13. McSassypants November 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    There’s no such requirement in our school district, thankfully. I was a little concerned at the beginning of the year that my daughter’s bus stop was a block behind our daycare provider’s house (therefore out of sight). But so far, my 5 year old has proved time and again that she is more than capable of walking to our daycare provider’s house by herself. Moreover, she’s actually pretty pleased that she can do this all by herself. I asked her how she felt about it the first time she walked it by herself and her response was “Well. I know I’m supposed to walk. But I decided to skip instead.”

    With shorter winter days our daycare provider does prefer to meet her, since her bus tends to drop her off at dusk (around 4:45pm). It’s still helpful to know that she’s perfectly capable of walking herself to our dp’s house.

  14. Warren November 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    After the first letter, the school would be told what they could do with their rule. Again, schools trying to regulate and take away parental authority.

    My two girls when in KG were given the option of bus pick up or walking because of proximity. They walked.

  15. Erin November 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Our town has the same policy and it really irritates me. there’s no flexibility -if there’s no adult to meet the KGer, the kid goes back to school until a parent can pick up. The bus stops at the end of the street, so if my younger child is napping, my choices are wake her up mid-nap or leaving her sleeping unattended. Also on my list of annoyances – having to bring in my child’s project about her vacation so that I could give the teacher a run-down of what the project is -isn’t that my child’s job?

  16. MichaelF November 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Just the fact the district has a chief of security says it all. Treat parents like criminals when they don’t meet the schools objectives, even when the parents have no input into these rules.

  17. Donna November 18, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    It is my understanding that our school district has the same rule but for up through 3rd grade (my kid doesn’t ride the bus so I can’t attest to this personally). I do wonder if it is enforced. So many of our kids live in housing projects where large amounts of kids get off at one stop and I really can’t imagine that every parent comes out to meet the bus or that anyone really pays attention as to whether each child’s specific parent is there or just some various adults. I could be wrong though.

  18. E November 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    I wonder if they even tried to talk to parents who have been ‘guilty’ of this.

    I work with someone who was pissed when the bus left their kids at their bus stop (which is the bottom of his longish driveway) w/o him being there (he was inside). He was also mad when they kids got on the bus and left for school when he’d sent them outside where he was going to meet them in a few short moments. When he emerged, they were gone (to school). In both cases, he expected the school bus to wait for him to show up.

    Would CPS actually respond to a claim about kids walking home?

  19. Erica November 18, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Oh I hate this rule more than anything other school rule right now. My daughter catches the bus at the end of our driveway and I’m supposed to be outside or they just don’t know that a parent is home…because I guess parents are just so irresponsible that they don’t make any sort of arrangement for their kid nor trust them to be alone ever. *grumble*

    The other rule I hate is when the bus passes our stop they can’t just drop the kid off down the road a bit when they realize they’ve passed it. They keep on going, loop around, and drop the kid off 15 to 30 minutes later still expecting the parent to stand at the appropriate stop waiting patiently for the bus. It’s maddening.

  20. Beth November 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    What if the child is walking to his/her child care provider’s house? Surely an in-home provider can’t be expected to leave all the younger kids behind while she waits at the bus stop for a perfectly competent-to-walk kindergardner….can she?

  21. EricS November 18, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    If it’s not against the law in that state, screw them! I’m not going to teach my kid to be fearful. I’m going to teach him how to traverse through life, to be self sufficient, and be smart. If he feels comfortable walking from the bus stop to the house, and I feel he’s capable, then he’ll walk home on his own with my blessings. And I’ll enjoy the look in his face when he unlocks that door, and comes in with a big smile. He likes trying and doing things on his own. And he’s smart enough to ask questions so he does it correctly.

    I’ll take the school and child services to court if I have to. They can’t tell me what is best for my child, no more than I can tell them what is best for theirs. I’m not breaking any laws, I have nothing to fear. And I’m not about to get bullied around, just like I teach my kid how not to get bullied. If child services were to push the issue, and try to take my kid from me because of something like this, I WILL make a stink. This is for my kid, and no one else. Stupid people, getting more and more stupid. Don’t tell me how to do my job as a parent, and I won’t tell you how to do your job as a teacher. And god knows, some of these teachers know jack. Geeez!

  22. Jill November 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    I’m guessing that the fear is that there will be no one home when the bus lets the kids off, and not that a man will entice them into an unmarked van.
    When I used to teach preschool, part of my job (not a very fun part) was driving the bus. When I dropped them off at the end of the day, I had to wait until I saw the children go into their homes until I could leave. That makes sense, because they were only three or four years old, and they could theoretically get lost between the curb in front of their house and the front door. By age five, kids should be able to navigate from the bus stop to the front door without any difficulty. Demanding that a parent be there to meet them is just stupid.

  23. Jenny Islander November 18, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    @Neil M.: Word. Schools should not set requirements that not everyone can afford to meet!

  24. J- November 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    I would stand there dressed as a creepy clown and hand out candy.

  25. LauraL November 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    The parents need to organize, write a letter, show up at the school board meeting, and explain: WE are the parents. WE expect our children to walk themselves home AS WE HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO DO SAFELY. The district cannot compel me as a parent to behave a certain way with regards to my own child.

    Argh, this annoys the hell out of me.

  26. John November 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I’m wondering if the root cause of all this school mandated helicopter, is the ridiculous and unrealistic demands that society places on the schools in assuring that children arrive there safely. If a child gets into an accident or is bullied by another kid 6 blocks from the school, how can the school realistically prevent that? But yet it’s always the school’s fault even though it happened far outside their jurisdiction and view. So giving the school the benefit of the doubt here, is it a wonder WHY they’re over reacting and mandating the supervision?

    It seems as if every time a kid gets hurt in our society, breaks a limb, gets a tooth knocked out, stubs his tow, etc. Americans want blood and the media just fuels this. After all, a tender little child was hurt and will now be scarred for life. Shame on those adults for not preventing that. So not only does the lynch mob want to see any adult with some ties to that child (i.e. school officials, bus driver, neighbors, parents etc.) fired from their jobs and their careers ruined, but they want them prosecuted and jailed for life! Perhaps the school officials do not want to face this possible fate.

    Of course, I believe the mandated parental supervision is utterly stupid and senseless BUT the fault for this may run deeper than with the school administrators.

  27. lollipoplover November 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Or Donald Duck.

  28. kate November 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    Here’s an idea….change the freaking bus routes so the kids(at this age) are dropped at their houses…duh?!*!?!*

  29. pentamom November 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    “This policy is quite a celebration of privilege. ”


  30. Meg November 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    The kids and I read the Ramona series last spring and they were excited at all the freedoms Ramona had from even before Kindergarten.

  31. SKL November 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    My district apparently has a similar rule, as my 3rd grade (but under 4′) daughter had to argue with the bus driver to be allowed off the bus on the first day of school. (They didn’t have bus service in prior years.)

    I am neutral on the rule for 4-5yo KG kids; I think it is not a terrible rule, but parents should be able to opt out via waiver. However, some KG kids are 6 or even 7. If they can’t walk down the street without an adult, there is a problem IMO.

    But I think most parents are OK with the rule, considering that (according to my kids) all the other riders on their bus are driven to the bus stop in the a.m. and sit in their cars until the bus arrives. ??

  32. Vicky November 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Here in Jacksonville Fl for years now, if you aren’t at the bus stop to collect your child, the bus takes them back to the school. And not just kindergarten age. Don’t know up to what age. This happened the one time I was a couple minutes late meeting two grade school age children I babysat.
    CPS/DCF pretty much run the schools and the police/courts capitulate to them.
    Oftentimes when there’s a fight or other incident CPS is called before the parents. Sometimes INSTEAD of parents. They have become the Gestapo with authority above any other entity, especially parents. I personally know of a couple of instances where a judge has, in shock, overruled a bizarre overreach, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.
    It should have never been allowed to rise to this level of supreme power, as their employees are not trained investigators, child or adult psychologists, doctors or lawyers. I know for a fact they are the only government organization without an Attorney General at Federal level. Perhaps that is why they get to make up inconsistent rules as they go and seem to follow no code of ethics that I can detect. Parents are treated like animals and their gulags ARE NOT set up to reunite parents with the children they’ve acquisitioned. They actually receive between 20,000 and 30,000 dollars per child they remove from their home, by the government. It’s a perfect Nazi style set up. I know of instances where all it takes is an anonymous call from an angry neighbor or family member, for them to go to school and take someones children, unimpeded with the parent only finding out when their child doesn’t arrive home or at the bus stop at the end of the school day. The school doesn’t call and tell them, “Hey we just gave someone who says they are a CPS worker your child”. It’s horrifying the power this agency has and it wields it like a truncheon. We are losing rights to parent our children.
    Do I sound bitter much?

  33. Emily Morris November 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Vicky, that is pure evil.

  34. John November 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Vicki, I don’t even have children and I feel your pain. It’s utterly ridiculous and I don’t blame you one bit for being bitter.

  35. no rest for the weary November 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    EricS, fight the good fight, brother!

  36. Anne November 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Our district’s rule is that kids younger than second grade MUST be met at the bus by an adult, or they will be brought back to the school and someone will have to pick them up and pay for aftercare.

    This is extra-stupid because we live in an enormous complex with 30+ other families who all use the same school and all know one another (we’re all Federal workers in temporary housing during training programs, so it’s much like Dorm living. Kids go to school together, adults go to training together or hang out with the kids. Everyone knows everyone.) The bus literally does not go anywhere else but to our complex. You can see ALL the buildings of the complex from the bus stop, and if anyone did (weirdly) get lost, someone would be there to show them the way.

    But NO. My first grader still can’t walk 100 feet from the shelter to the bus. It makes me LIVID.

  37. Ann November 18, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    We’ve come a long way since the days when I was in kindergarten. I didn’t take a bus, but the school doors were flung open and we all just were left to our own devices. I actually was always terrified because I had to roam around the parking lot or the nearby street to find my parent’s car. So many cars looked alike to me and my mom or dad never thought to walk up to the school to fetch me.

  38. Hillary J November 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    @Doug: Do it. Full tactical gear, carry in the low ready, bonus points of you find a battle buddy to cover your 6. Better yet, get a full platoon to circle your child and treat the whole thing like a mission where the only objective is to get the child on the bus (imagine it’s under heavy fire and your child is the main target). Sadly, the administration would either applaud your devotion or take the kids away because you own a gun.

  39. Emily Morris November 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    I teach at a charter school with no bus system, and we are currently re-working our pick-up system to be more, well, free-range (though I doubt that’s the exact term or goal people have.) My principal feels the current pick-up system is far too chaotic. We want to streamline it with the kids and families shouldering most of the responsibility. We want to shuttle as many kids as possible to a nearby field to be picked up so the younger and more clueless children can have a more direct pick-up. Our system also encourages walking if you live within distance–no actual rules on what is too far. Too many rules and must-haves make the system way too chaotic.

  40. Emily November 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Did anyone stop to think that it’d actually be MORE scary for a five-year-old to be brought back to an empty school, taken to the principal’s office, and have his or her parents called, than to simply be let off at the bus stop and walk a short distance home, as per the parents’ instructions? Also, there are a lot of variables. First of all, how does this school district define “unescorted?” Suppose the kindergarten student was accompanied by an older sibling? Would the bus driver allow that, or take the younger child back to school? Both children? What about the fact that not every kindergarten-aged child is automatically five years old, and not every five-year-old is automatically in kindergarten? Some parents redshirt, and some kids get held back, resulting in six-year-old kindergarteners. Some kids skip kindergarten, so they’re five years old in grade one. In that case, would a five-year-old grade one student be okay to walk home from the bus stop, but not a six-year-old kindergartner? Also, Beth has a good point that not every child automatically goes home after school. What if the child is going to a babysitter’s house, or to after-school sports, or dance, or music lessons, or Beaver/Tiger/Daisy Scouts? What if little Susie tells the driver, “Please let me off at the St. Blahblah Church, I have Daisies today,” and the driver doesn’t comply (even if Susie’s obviously telling the truth, and wearing her Daisy vest), and the Daisy leaders end up in a panic because Susie never arrived? This whole plan just seems like a disaster, on so many levels.

    As for people anonymously calling CPS every time they see a child without an adult, I’d almost be inclined to call CPS on parents who hover over their child from birth to university entrance, because, as I’ve said before, that never ends well. I’ve seen it result in eighteen-and-nineteen-year-olds who can’t do their laundry, don’t go to class, give themselves salmonella because they don’t know that chicken has to be cooked until it’s no longer pink in the middle, and sometimes even get involved with drugs and alcohol, and drop out of school.

  41. Brian Backhouse November 18, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Of course, if anything bad did happen to the child they are so concerned about, the school would do everything in its power to disclaim responsibility.

  42. Emily November 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Also, what does the school do if they drive little Jimmy or Susie back to school, because there’s no adult waiting to meet them at the bus stop (never mind if their home/babysitter’s house/Scout meeting location/karate dojo is visible from said bus stop), and then they call their parents, but they can’t be reached because they’re at work? Some people don’t have land lines, and some people’s jobs are such that they can’t be reached by phone while they’re working. For example, I’m a yoga instructor, and my phone stays either put away, or on airplane mode when I’m teaching. I know there are others in similar situations–telemarketers or retail workers who aren’t allowed phones on the job, surgeons who can’t be disturbed in the operating room, public transit drivers who can’t just pull over every time their phone rings without screwing up the route for everyone on it, pretty much anything that involves caring for another person (so, psychologists/psychiatrists, massage therapists, dentists, probably even family doctors), and I’m sure I’ve left out many more. But, my point is, does the school just automatically slap a “bad parent” label on anyone who legitimately can’t interrupt teaching yoga, or driving a bus, or removing someone’s appendix, because the school doesn’t want to trust Jimmy or Susie to walk a short distance from the bus stop to an adult who’s waiting inside, but not immediately visible? I can see a parent thinking, “Okay, I have to work until five. School gets out at 3:30, and the bus ride takes about 30 minutes. Susie goes to Mrs. Smith’s house for babysitting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and then she has Daisies on Tuesdays, and ballet on Thursdays, and both of those finish at 5:30. All good,” only to find out that their definition of “all good” isn’t good enough for the school….and since when does it have to be? When I was in the public school system (September of 1989 when I started kindergarten, through June of 2003 when I finished OAC), we arrived in the morning, went home in the afternoon, and that was that. The schools only cared who was taking the bus, and who wasn’t. Those not taking the bus were assumed to be walking, because you had to live a certain distance away from the school to qualify for bus service. There might have been a bit of hand-holding in the early days of kindergarten, but it wasn’t all year, and it wasn’t an official policy–it was at the teachers’ discretion.

  43. Emily November 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Oh, I forgot another “can’t drop everything for a ringing phone” profession–college and university professors. I remember one of the major rules of every school I ever went to being, “Teachers have a right to teach. Students have a right to learn. No one has the right to interfere with teaching and learning.” Can anyone else see the irony that’d ensue if Jimmy or Susie’s principal got upset with the parent, because he or she didn’t immediately answer the “ZOMG, how dare you allow your child to walk unescorted for thirty seconds?!??!?!?!” phone call, because it’d disturb their teaching and their students’ learning?

  44. Papilio November 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    Like kindergarteners get stolen as often as a bike in Amsterdam.
    So let’s use the same logic to solve this problem: just lock the kiddies to a tree with a decent bike chain and have their parents use their own key to take them home! In the morning they can just lock them back to the tree to be picked up so they can leave for work even when the bus is late!

  45. hineata November 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Normally I would have thought this was nuts, and I’m sure it is if you live in a pace with a normal (read temperate) climate, or in Florida. But I met an American in an outdoor clothing place in Auckland last week, and he was reminding me how ridiculous some of your winter temperatures get. (I was asking what sort of creature needed a sleeping bag rated to -12C (10F)). Frankly, at -40C (which interestingly is also -40F – the scales seem to cross over at that point), I would be driving my car to the bathroom, never mind the bus stop.

    Though evidently you do heat your houses properly, unlike many of us here 🙂

  46. Stacy November 18, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    “Normally I would have thought this was nuts, and I’m sure it is if you live in a pace with a normal (read temperate) climate, or in Florida.”

    The cold weather where I live is the main reason it makes sense to me to make sure someone is home to let the kindergartners inside. My husband still remembers huddling by the locked door when his loving and responsible mom lost track of time running errands. That obviously doesn’t apply in Florida, of course, and fortunately our bus drivers exercise discretion and trust older siblings. Every afternoon last winter my kindergartner got off the bus with her older sister and walked across the street to our house, while I stayed warm inside.

  47. SKL November 18, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    The “what if” conversations remind me of what happened to my kid about a month ago. She and another kid had a collision on the school playground at p.m. recess. My kid’s teeth vs. that kid’s forehead. (I feel so sorry for the school staff who had to deal with that mess.) They called and texted me to come get my kid. I didn’t have my phone with me until 45 minutes later. At that point it was almost time for school to dismiss. Coincidentally, I had lent my car to someone else that day, and I wouldn’t get it back until late afternoon. So I called the school and told them to put my kid on the bus just like every other day. We all agreed that it seemed better than her sitting in aftercare for hours – if the bus driver would take her (she did). So I sat looking out my window as she walked up the hill from the bus stop. Sticking out of her mouth was a wad of blood-filled gauze. I do believe I was nominated for the Worst Mom in the Neighborhood award that day. But it was OK. My car was returned, I took my kid to the dentist, her teeth were straightened out, and she only missed part of soccer practice. 😛 And she learned that she is strong enough to get through stuff without Mom running to rescue her.

  48. CrazyCatLady November 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    I am thankful for the somewhat reasonable school district that my daughter initially went to. Friend’s son needed to have someone there for Kinder….long winding, narrow road with redwoods growing into it, known for speeders and mountain lions. He needed to walk about a 1/4 mile from the bus stop to get home.

    My daughter was let off in front of the house. The bus driver would wait to see if I, or the neighbors on either side, opened our doors. If one of us did, the bus would move on. Though, I do think that at least once no one immediately came to the door but my daughter told the driver it was okay, so he left.

  49. BL November 19, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    “The cold weather where I live is the main reason it makes sense to me to make sure someone is home to let the kindergartners inside.”

    Why? I lived in Michigan, where it gets pretty cold, at that age. We used to happily play outdoors in the winter snow for hours. Properly dressed for the weather, of course.

  50. Buffy November 19, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    Being home to let a kid into the house is far, far different than meeting him at the bus stop. I don’t think we can fairly make the leap that if a parent isn’t at the bus stop, a parent isn’t home.

  51. Katie G November 19, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Without reading all the comments, I have to say the same thing I’ve wondered a long time- HOW do families in which both parents are employed, or there’s only one, do this bus stop dance?

  52. Donna November 19, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    hineata – In most of the places that get that cold, the kids have adequate outdoor clothes and can spend hours outside. It is just the way of life.

    Cold weather can actually be more of an issue in places like Georgia and Florida. Our winter temps range from -10F to 75F. And that can be in one week. Many people are inappropriately dressed for the weather in the winter. Sometimes it is simply finances; parents can’t afford to buy heavy winter coats that kids will wear 10 times before they outgrow. Other times it is just the drastic changes in temperatures. When it is 75 one day and 21 the next, it can be hard to keep up. There have been many days that I’ve walked out thinking I was going to be fine and ended up freezing my butt off because the weather turned.

  53. Emily November 19, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    >Like kindergarteners get stolen as often as a bike in Amsterdam.
    So let’s use the same logic to solve this problem: just lock the kiddies to a tree with a decent bike chain and have their parents use their own key to take them home! In the morning they can just lock them back to the tree to be picked up so they can leave for work even when the bus is late!

    @Papilio–I agree that this is ridiculous; not only the idea that kindergarteners get stolen as often as bikes, but the idea that kids in grade one and up aren't worth abducting at all. Of course, I'm being sarcastic too–I don't think the "meet your kids at the bus stop" rule should extend past kindergarten; in fact, I don't think it should be in place at all–it should be at the parents' discretion, if it's even feasible for them to do that. But, it's really not a good idea for the school system to set a blanket rule saying that ALL kids under a certain age/grade level require door-to-door adult supervision.

  54. Stacy November 19, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    “Why? I lived in Michigan, where it gets pretty cold, at that age. We used to happily play outdoors in the winter snow for hours. Properly dressed for the weather, of course.”

    Why? Because it has been nearly forty years and my husband still talks about the day his mommy wasn’t there to let him in as he tried to stay warm in the doorway. 😉 Also, we had some -20+ wind chill weeks last winter, and my kids are notorious for losing their gloves and hats. Kindergartners don’t always get off the bus properly dressed for the weather. I lose feeling in my well-covered hands and feet after about five minutes (why do I live here?), so I’m especially sympathetic to those unexpectedly left in the cold, at least if they’re five. I have no sympathy for my teenager who really doesn’t dress appropriately for the weather. He makes sure to have his key in case I’m out when he gets home.

  55. TaraK November 19, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    First day of kindergarten a few years ago: I was all set to go take the obligatory picture of my kid getting off the bus. Suddenly the doorbell rings and there she is! She’d been dropped off at the corner (four houses away) and walked home!

  56. Beth November 19, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    Boy, the FB conversation on this topic has taken an weird turn. Apparently those who don’t meet their kids at the bus stop are horrible people who wear heels(?) and furs(?) (I am not making this up) and of course are horrible and lazy parents.

    I would still like to know what the mom with younger children is supposed to do. Wouldn’t it be just as horrible and lazy to leave the kids alone in the house?

  57. Buffy November 19, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Again, being home to let a kid into the house is far, far different than meeting him at the bus stop. I don’t think we can fairly make the leap that if a parent isn’t at the bus stop, a parent isn’t home.

  58. Stacy November 19, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    “Our winter temps range from -10F to 75F.”

    Our spring and fall temperatures have a similar range.

    Basically, our district seems to think that anyone over the age of five can figure out what to do, but kindergartners might not. They seem to use discretion after getting to know the kids. A blanket rule with no exceptions is ridiculous, and I really can’t imagine being forced to meet older kids at the bus.

  59. Cora November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I’m all for parents deciding what is right for their children- but it is the school’s responsibility to make sure that their children are delivered safely to their responsible adults. We are talking about kindergarteners here- navigating traffic, strangers (who have been known to hang around bus stops even in some of the safest havens of the U.S. with malicious intents- as recent news in the northeast let us know.)

    So yes, I wholeheartedly agree, parents of kindergarteners NEED to actually be there for their kids and shuttle them safely home. Because if one of these unattended children were to get struck by a car or taken home by a stranger when the bus driver let them go at an empty stop- guess who would be sued?

    Is it so terrible to wait a few minutes for a child??

  60. Stacy November 19, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    “Again, being home to let a kid into the house is far, far different than meeting him at the bus stop. I don’t think we can fairly make the leap that if a parent isn’t at the bus stop, a parent isn’t home.”

    That’s why it’s best for bus drivers to get to know the kids and develop a sense of their usual routine — and be allowed to use their discretion. When no one was outside to meet a neighbor boy (who was barely five), it was because his parents, who took turns being there for him, got their signals crossed. The driver drove him to his house and had him ring his doorbell. When no one answered, she kept him until she reached his parents. But, from what I’ve seen, the “must meet a kindergartner” policy is not enforced across the board when the driver doesn’t have reason to worry that no one is home.

  61. Merrick November 19, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Last week I had a crazy run in with school district policy.

    Every Friday, I pick my niece up from school. She is in 1st grade.
    Last Friday I was substitute teaching at her school, in her classroom no less.
    The fire alarm went off. Smoke from a building project was venting into the school building. It was determined that the fumes were negatively impacting the learning environment and school was dismissed early.

    I am on my niece’s emergency contact list. I am on her list of people allows to pick her up. I texted Sister in Law at work and told her not to worry about evacuation. I would bring niece home, as I do every Friday.
    Until I went to sign her out (evacuation is considered early release and requires sign out) and I was refused… by my coworkers and friends who have known me a decade. I was informed that they could not release my nice to me, despite her mother’s written consent in the form of emergency contact release, because they hadn’t spoken to her mother.

    What is the point of an emergency contact if it isn’t “someone to call when you can’t reach the parent/guardian”? What if the emergency were that her parents were in a serious car accident? This is an extension of the bizarre cell phone culture that we live in that assumes all people are reachable at all times. As noted above many people are not always reachable at their place of work, sometimes cell phone batteries die, sometimes cell phone coverage is spotty. It turned into a major hassle trying to reach sister in law at her new job…. where she doesn’t carry her phone. (Which is why I just sent a text so she’d see it if she saw a message from the school about the cancellation)

  62. Stacy November 19, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Cora — I don’t really believe there are people lurking around your typical school bus stop waiting for kids to hurt. Traffic is a real concern — our bus driver got so tired of people flying by her flashing red lights that she started blocking the road with the bus when she stopped — but kids can learn to cross safely by kindergarten, especially in residential neighborhoods.

  63. Merrick November 19, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Sorry for spelling issues above… posting from my phone and autocorrect is of my friend.

  64. Buffy November 19, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    OK Cora, so my kid’s bus stop is a half block away from our house in a quiet rural subdivision. Am I supposed to leave my 2 younger kids, and the child I take care of, home alone while I stand down the block waiting for a bus that has a wonky time schedule at best..when my kindergartner is perfectly able to navigate that half block in all kinds of weather? Seems to me that leaving 3 kids under 5 unattended in the house is far worse than all the million to one “what ifs” you can come up with for that short walk.

    And don’t even think about telling me to bundle all the kids into their car seats to drive 1/2 block because traffic and strangers.

  65. Merrick November 19, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Ha! Not my friend. But maybe it wants to be

  66. K2 November 19, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    I think making decisions for us because the American people are “not smart enough” is generally part of the liberal agenda and that children are only a part of what is going on in our country. There are lots of other issues that either resemble propaganda or directly affect rights and privacy. I could go on about that, but other people do it better. Listen to conservative talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc) for more, 92.5 in SW FL . The issue of the day might not be this one, but there is a good chance the current liberal philosophy will be at least touched on if not more.

  67. SKL November 19, 2014 at 11:00 am #


    All bus stops are not the same. Many of them are in really safe places where there is no danger in a reasonably mature KG child walking from the bus stop to home.

    My kids’ bus stop is at an intersection from which they can walk all the way home on one sidewalk (no streets need to be crossed). They walk past maybe 10 houses and I can see the bus stop from the window where I work from my home. There is no crime here to speak of, and besides, all the neighbors know my kids and would not just sit by if they saw anything happen to them.

    Many young kids are dropped off even closer to home. In many places, KG kids are all dropped off in front of their own houses.

    As for the possibility that nobody is home, some kids have house keys. My kids were not ready to be latchkey kids at 5/6, but I’m sure there are kids who able to let themselves in in case their parent is not home for some reason – or there would be some other way to ensure they do not freeze in case the parents were delayed in getting home. (Like go into the garage, shed, or go to the home of a neighbor designated by the parents.)

    But if in fact it is too dangerous to let a child off the bus alone, then who better to make that determination than the child’s parents? If your kid is better off being picked up, then go pick him up.

    As for “what is so hard about waiting a few minutes,” it’s not that I can’t do it. It’s that it’s not best for my kids. When they were 5/6 it would still have been best for them to walk that little way home on their own (if it were an option then). I walked home alone at age 4/5 from KG, in a low-income area with more traffic, and nobody thought anything of it. (I was alone because KG was morning only in those days.) I hate to see today’s kids limited to what I could do when I was 3. :/

  68. Warren November 19, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    The child is more likely to be hit by a car, because of all the parents driving to meet the bus, than if the kids just walked home.

    As for the districts that take the kids back to the school, then charge for after school care………….first time I would have to do that, I would have a cop with me and demand the principal be charged with extortion.

  69. Kristen Castator November 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I’m a school bus driver from Ontario, Canada. Our policy is similar. Kindergartens through grade ones have to be met at the bus if not returned to school. Repeat offenders get a pink slip. Depending on the amount of pink slips, bus privileges are revoked.

  70. lollipoplover November 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    “Because if one of these unattended children were to get struck by a car or taken home by a stranger when the bus driver let them go at an empty stop- guess who would be sued?”

    Can we all stop using the term *unattended children*?
    It makes them sound like suspicious baggage at airports not living, breathing, THINKING human beings which they are. Even in kindergarten! Imagine that.

    Kids learn at different ages and some are more responsible than others. That is why blanket policies are wasteful and stupid. If your kid needs to have someone at the bus stop, by all means, have someone there. But don’t insist that all kids are at the lowest common denominator and make that policy.

    As for strangers lurking at bus stops: We had a student in our neighborhood go missing after school this week. The bus dropped him off and he went home but went back out again and was missing for 2 days. As Free Range as I consider myself, this really rattled me. My kids normally bike to school but I drove them today (and got a flat tire!). Seeing police searching the neighborhood and fearing the worst is a horrible feeling. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I have a son his same age- they were in class together last year. What if that was my kid? But he was found safe. He ran away. I don’t know the details (and hope he gets the help he needs) but he had problems.

    When we view our kids as unattended children and not thinking humans we are not preparing them for real life. Walking home from a bus stop and allowing small children incremental independence builds self-confidence. Treating them like Fedex packages that need to be delivered and signed for builds nothing.

  71. SOA November 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Cora: not everyone has your situation. Maybe it is so hard to wait outside by the bus stop in the cold or rain. Especially if maybe the parent is in poor health or in a wheelchair. That would be a huge thing for them to have to walk down there and stand and wait up to 30 minutes since many buses are late often or early. Or if they have younger kids at home, they have to bundle up those kids for rain or cold and walk them down there and then try to entertain the young child while she is struggling against her stroller harness waiting on the big kid.

    Actually to me that is dangerous. If my mom had to drag all 4 or 5 of her daycare kids out to the bus stop to pick me up every afternoon. I forsee some kids getting hit by a car in that instance. No way she can keep that many kids from running out in a street while they wait every day.

    It is dangerous for traffic to have parents parking and lining up all near the bus stop too. And inconveniences other people driving in that area. Could even prevent an ambulance from getting by.

    So yes, it can be “THAT” hard to wait a few minutes.

    You have to realize everyone has their own unique life and scenario and what is best for one person may not be the best for everyone else. That is why blanket policies can be very very bad.

  72. Stephanie November 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    No buses at our school, but kindergarteners and first graders are expected to be met by someone at the school. Thank goodness siblings are okay for that. The school is K-8, however, and I personally know some 7th graders who live in the neighborhood, whose parents still walk them to and from school every day. I just don’t understand it. The neighborhood is not that bad, and with all the parents who drive to the school (charter school, so not everyone lives in the neighborhood) and really small parking lot, there are lots of people around at the time the kids might be walking.

  73. Emily November 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    The child is more likely to be hit by a car, because of all the parents driving to meet the bus, than if the kids just walked home.<<

    Yeah, I was going to say. The "I drive my child to the bus stop/to school because of traffic" is a cyclical, self-defeating mentality. There's too much traffic, because too many people drive their kids, when they live within walking distance.

  74. Warren November 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    I am in Ontario, and have dealt with schools and bus lines that think they are law makers.

    When you inform the school, that your child is to walk on their own, to and from the stop, there is not a damn thing the school or bus line can do about it.

    Been there done that.

  75. J- November 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    @Nell M @ Pentamon

    Knock it off with the “privilege” I’m getting really tired of that deflection.

    Is this a stupid policy? Yes.

    Are there families where both parents work and neither can get to the bus stop in time to meet the kid? Yes.

    Is this policy a discriminatory act of privilege? No. This stupid policy applies just as much to two working class parents who have to clock in and out as to two doctors, layers, or CPAs who work long hours.

    And no, not all high paying professionals want nannies raising their children.

    This trend of making everything about privilege (Trans: “You rich, white people just will never understand”) is really alienating. You are making enemies that you don’t need to make.

  76. Warren November 19, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    My kids all learned how to answer, when someone tried to assume authority over them.

    “Then you explain to my Dad, why………..”

  77. RedBlue November 19, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    “The cold weather where I live is the main reason it makes sense to me to make sure someone is home to let the kindergartners inside. ”

    Give them a key!

    Even the “preschool/little kids” backpack I bought from Lands End for my son (for preschool) had a key ring on a do-hicky inside its front pocket. He’s had a key tucked away on the key ring do-hickies in his backpacks since he started taking the bus.

  78. Buffy November 19, 2014 at 6:43 pm #


  79. Donna November 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    “it is the school’s responsibility to make sure that their children are delivered safely to their responsible adults.”

    No, the school’s only responsibility is to deliver my children safely to the method of going home that I choose for them. It is absolutely not their responsibility to tell me what that method should be. If I believe my child capable of walking from point A to point B on their own, that is all the school needs to know.

    The fact is that the vast majority of parents actually want their children to come home from school alive and well. If they believe that a bus stop pick-up is necessary, they will do a bus stop pick up.

  80. SKL November 19, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    I am not really understanding the “what if both parents work” line of thinking. If both parents work, then I’m sorry but a 5yo child still needs a responsible adult in the vicinity. Unless the kids arrive home around the same time as the parents, which probably isn’t usually true.

    For kids whose parents are away past the bus drop-off time, there is aftercare etc.

    Even if a parent is home, that does not mean it is automatically better for a kid to be walked home from the bus stop.

  81. hineata November 20, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    @Donna – there is suitable clothing for 40 below? What would that be, a bear?😊.

    Seriously, yes, the changeable temperatures probably are worse. Ours can also swing through 10-20 degrees in a short period (very occasionally minutes). That’s why I always get the kids to have at least a light coat rolled up in their bags….

    And have a house key handy…Still no need to have someone meet them at the bus, unless it’s gale force 😊.

  82. Buffy November 20, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    SKL, they might have a caregiver in their very own neighborhood, or they get off the bus near their caregiver’s house. And if the caregiver is someone providing in-home daycare to a variety of ages, it’s going to be very hard for her to be at waiting at the bus stop every day.

  83. Donna November 20, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    hineata – Only a very small handful of US states have ever met -40, and even there it is uncommonly cold and not a daily occurrence. And it would be a rarity as a daytime temperature. Schools in every lower 48 state (and possibly even Alaska) would be cancelled if school time temperatures were expected to be -40. I was speaking about more usual winter temperatures. Even in the coldest of our states, winter days are manageable with the right clothes most of the time. I say this as a person who has lived as far north as Maine.

  84. pentamom November 20, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    J — I don’t think the policy was initiated in order to assert privilege, either. I’m not generally one who views things through the lens of privilege.

    But the fact of the matter is, policies like this cannot exist in communities where most people are not privileged. They don’t exist in mine, where a significant portion of the kids are cared for by people who can’t leave other kids they’re minding, or are not in good enough health to stand around a bus stop in all kinds of weather. Where the care of children is governed by “you do what you have to do” rather than “you do everything right” by a significant fraction of the community, policies like this simply do not exist. I challenge you to find a city over 100,000 population where all this “no child out of sight of a responsible adult whether on or off school property” nonsense goes on.

  85. Emily November 20, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    The other thing about kids walking to their after-school babysitters’ houses is, there’s a possibility that not all the kids who go to that babysitter, attend the same school. So, if the “meet kindergarteners at the bus stop” policy is across the board, then the poor babysitter is going to have to split him-or-herself into however many clones, and wait at however many bus stops, for however many five-year-olds to arrive at roughly the same time. Since that isn’t possible, and running from one bus stop to another, with a horde of kids, isn’t feasible, the only logical option is, to let the kids walk independently from the bus stop to their waiting adult. I mean, part of kindergarten is learning independence, right? In kindergarten, kids learn to tie their shoes, change into and out of their gym clothes, bathing suits if there’s a swimming unit, and snowsuits in the winter. They learn to open their own food packages at lunch and snack time, to play on the playground at recess without an adult right on top of them, and to work through small conflicts in a mutually harmonious manner (for example, “You can be Batman now, and I’ll be the Joker, but I get to be Batman at lunch recess”).

    My point is, kids don’t learn those things with adults doing everything FOR them, and walking independently is no exception. So, parents should absolutely walk the route with their young child until they’re sure they can do it alone (which you can do by saying, “Okay, Jimmy, now you pretend you’re the parent and lead me”), the same as they should teach their kids to tie their shoes, dress themselves, and use their words instead of their fists in a disagreement, but if the default is, “children can never be unattended,” then the result is, “children never learn to be independent.” Then, of course, parents say they “can’t leave their kids alone,” because they’re “immature,” and “not ready,” and they end up escorting them through life until university move-in day, and sometimes beyond, like my colleague from university who was being tracked by her parents with a GPS chip in her cell phone.

  86. Donna November 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Pentamom – My city of over 100,000 has such a rule … and up through 3rd grade, not just kindergarten. My friend’s kid has ended up back at school a couple times. And this is very much an underprivileged, Title 1, school district. Many of our schools run at 100% free and reduced lunch eligibility and no school has less than 50% free and reduced lunch eligibility.

  87. lollipoplover November 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Emily, I don’t have a problem with parents who recognize their kids as immature and *not ready* and give their child appropriate independence or withhold it. Kindergarten ages range from 5-7. We cannot treat all kids age 5-7 the same. Kids this age can be trusted to walk short distances. Some of these kids can do Powerpoint presentations, read chapter books, and play musical instruments. Give them some credit here.

    Walking home from school or a bus stop is a basic right of passage that parents get to determine, not schools. I don’t know why we are allowing schools in our personal choices like transportation. If my family chooses to walk and not waste time and expense on extra car trips or babysitters, the school has no business telling me how to allocate our family resources.

  88. lollipoplover November 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    On privilege:
    My friends just got back from a trip to the Dominican Republic. The took a bus trip to a scuba dive location through some of the poorest parts of the island. Their bus driver explained he would be making some stops along the way to help out the school children.

    The driver told them their new President believes in education. He provides uniforms for all the children but unfortunately the school budget does not include transportation. So the tourist bus drivers driving through town pick up random school children whenever they can, many of them traveling 10 or more miles. My friends said 4 young girls joined their bus. Education IS a privilege, one many kids are willing to take a long journey to receive. Yet in our country, we treated our kids as *unattended* and unable to walk short distances from bus stops. Rubbish.

  89. SKL November 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    The fact that some families can’t easily provide an adult to walk to & from the bus stop every afternoon is the same whether the family has a stay-at-home parent with young kids, a work-at-home parent, or a neighborhood caregiver who minds other kids. It would apply to most income levels.

    But the point is not that picking up kids at the bus stop is a hardship on the parents. The point is that it’s not the best choice for all young kids. Even if I had a full-time nanny, I wouldn’t want her walking (or driving) down the street to pick up my kids at the bus stop every day. It isn’t best for the kids.

    To look at it from another perspective, free ranging after school (and during the summer) is a “privilege” that I enjoyed partly because my family was low-income. I would see the smothering “ideal” in my upper-middle classmates’ families or on TV, and I would cringe.

  90. Cora November 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    To those who responded to my first comment: it sounds like there can be challenges to being at the bus stop, waiting, twice a day both from a standpoint of work and caring for other young children. However, a five year old child is simply not mature enough to navigate a road safely alone, no matter how well-behaved they are, and how well they follow directions. Roads are dangerous places, even in quiet suburban neighborhoods. I don’t know if there has ever been a time when drivers have been more distracted: teen drivers texting, sleep deprived parents texting, medicated seniors,slippery weather conditions- add to that a moment’s distraction on the part of a child and tragedy can occur, and does occur. Why not bring young children out to the bus stop with you? That’s what parents do in my neighborhood. We talk for a few minutes, it is really not so bad! Why would parents need to drive one block to pick children up, or ever feel like they would need to leave children home alone? If this is not do-able, one could hire a neighbor’s teenage daughter to escort the child back. Or, have another parent at the bus stop do it. I sometimes trade responsibilities with another parent friend picking up her child at the same stop-we help each other out if one of us will be running late from work or has some other conflict with timing. A bus driver should not be releasing a 5 year old child if there is no one there to take care of him/her, period. Road safety aside, there is no way that a driver can magically know whether that child has any where to go, or anyone at home if they drop them off and no one is there to meet them.

  91. SKL November 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    The bus driver does not need to know what is going on at the child’s house. That is (or should be, and used to be) outside of the scope of the bus driver’s responsibility. The bus system needs to tell parents when and where their kids are going to be picked up / dropped off and leave it up to the parents to figure out the logistics of getting the kids to / from the bus stop.

    In my neighborhood, kids’ homes are far enough apart that there is often only one kid or one small sibling group being picked up at a given bus stop. (Especially given the number of parents who bypass the bus service and drive their kids instead.) My kids are the only ones on our street who take the school bus – the only ones who get off at their bus stop. So no, there is not a lively community of parents congregating at the bus stop every afternoon with nothing better to do than chat with each other. (I work full-time and wouldn’t want to chat with other moms at 3:45pm even if I had time for it.)

    And you can’t make a blanket statement that no KG kid is safe walking down any road. There are plenty of neighborhoods where walking down the street is not dangerous. Again, if your neighborhood is dangerous, you have enough sense to go pick up your kid. That doesn’t mean my kid needs to be picked up.

  92. SKL November 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    How does the bus driver know that the kid is safe if an adult picks him up? The chances that the parent is abusive are greater than the chances that the kid will get run over by a car or snatched by a predator or freeze to death. Since some people want to make it the bus driver’s responsibility to make sure the child is safe at home, maybe the bus driver should walk the child into his house and look around for evidence of bad parenting and check the child’s butt for bruises while he’s at it.

    For that matter, why do we let parents take responsibility for their kids overnight? Do you realize how many kids don’t get adequate nutrition at home? Some parents even make their kids do chores instead of homework. Goodness, think of the children! They should make a law requiring kids to be kept in boarding schools if they really care.

  93. Warren November 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Both my girls survived walking to and from kindergarten. I walked to Kindergarten, in Toronto, Ont. not a small rural Mayberry by any stretch. We lived right on Lawerence Ave. a major main street.

    As for the bus driver knowing what after school arrangements are made for the kids? Really it is none of his freaking business.

  94. Donna November 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Cora –

    YOUR 5 year old may in fact not have been capable of walking down the street by yourself. Good on you for noticing that and not allowing it. MY 5 year old was perfectly competent to do so. She walked the dog around the block and walked down the road to a friend’s house regularly alone at that age. If she had ridden the bus, I would have been perfectly secure in her ability to get herself to and from the bus stop by herself.

    Nor am I willing to sign onto your obvious belief that this generation of 5 year olds is somehow dumber and less able to be competent than previous generations. I walked to school alone at 5. My mother walked to school alone at 5.

    I would never presume to tell you that your 5 year old was definitely competent to walk alone. I can’t understand why you insist on telling me that my 5 year old isn’t (or wasn’t since we are passed 5 now).

    And it’s not the bus driver’s job to know after school childcare arrangements. Good grief, are you really under the impression that you are the only parent in the world capable of making reasonable parenting decisions? The rest of us just leave our children to be raised by wolves with no thought to their safety?

    Yes, there are some crappy parents. I deal with them daily (and the vast majority of my clients are only crappy parents because they are drug addicts). They make up an extremely small portion of the parenting population. The vast majority make reasonable parenting decisions for their children every day. They have no interest in risking their children’s lives. They plan for necessary after school care. They actually think to make alternative arrangements if something comes up. I guess that I just don’t get why you insist that the school personnel and bus driver have better grasps of what is in the best interest of my child than I do.

  95. lollipoplover November 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    “However, a five year old child is simply not mature enough to navigate a road safely alone, no matter how well-behaved they are, and how well they follow directions.”

    Insert “Woman” or “Black Person” for five year old child and realize that profiling all children is insulting.

    My kids have safely navigated their way to and from school since kindergarten. They now help the younger kids in our neighborhood get to and from school and babysit them too. They are not drooling babies who can’t be trusted and don’t like to be treated as such. No one does.

  96. J- November 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    @ pentamom

    Let me introduce you to something called Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice, what can adequately be explained by stupidity.”

    The Brits have a similar expression: “Cock-up before conspiracy”

    You are suggesting that this policy is a subtle form of discrimination (which is synonymous with privilege in your context) because… the school officials/bureaucrats would assume that most parents in the area have the wealth and luxury to take off work to meet their children at the bus stop?

    With all due respect, crap.

    This is typical bureaucratic stupidity. this is a bureaucracy, like most (all) bureaucracies that didn’t give half a thought about the people this policy would effect. This is a self serving policy that exists ONLY to insulate the bureaucracy from having any responsibility. That is precisely how bureaucracy group think works.

    The very next post at this website is titled “A School Office So Rule-Bound It Refuses to Think.” That is another prime example of bureaucracy group think. The feelings of the mom, aunt, and every reasonable person was totally ignored by the individual, who at the moment of decision making, reverted to government drone status. I can just imagine the very scene, the aunt pleading with the school administrator to think like a human being, and the administrator going dead in the eyes as the bureaucratic virus destroyed her brain and turned her into a government zombie.

    Never, and I mean this with all serious, never underestimate the callous, ineptitude of government/bureaucracy workers when faced with the need to make a rational decision.

  97. pentamom November 20, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    J — I’m not attributing it to malice. I’m attributing it to stupidity, but I’m suggesting the only way they can be blind to the problems they’re creating is that those problems are not a significant enough factor in those communities to draw their notice. In communities with a larger population of people for whom stuff like this is simply unworkable, the authorities have too realistic a view of what they can impose, to even try something like this.

    It’s the same cluelessness that in some communities requires all students to be picked up by either bus or vehicle. No school official in the city I live in, no matter how malicious or otherwise incompetent, could dream of imposing such a rule here, because the fact that a significant enough percentage of the people don’t own or otherwise have access to vehicles is too well known and too obvious.

    Trust me, I’m quite aware of Hanlon’s Razor and I’m as big an advocate of it as you appear to be. But I don’t think my point falls foul of it; I think it’s an instance of it.

    So when I agree that it’s a sign of privilege, I don’t mean anything other than the fact that people can be really clueless about the issues they create, if those issues are not a large factor for anyone they know or even enough people in their community to be commonly recognized.

  98. pentamom November 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    And your reading of my extremely few words to infer that I was claiming that some particular group of people was being consciously discriminated against is, frankly, mystifying. I have no idea where you got that from what I actually wrote.

    Donna, I stand corrected. I have no idea how that is possibly workable. I only know it wouldn’t fly here.

  99. pentamom November 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    “However, a five year old child is simply not mature enough to navigate a road safely alone, no matter how well-behaved they are, and how well they follow directions.”

    It doesn’t at all depend on the road? What if the child lives at the other end of the same block? No five year old is competent to walk from one end of a block to the other without crossing a street? Seriously?

  100. Buffy November 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Sorry, Cora, I’m not stopping whatever I and the 3 younger kids are doing and bundling them up to go out in the Wisconsin winter to walk 1/2 block to pick up my 5-year-old, who AGAIN I’ve determined is perfectly competent to make that long, long, long walk. (And no, this doesn’t mean that we never play outside. It means that my daytime schedule and how the time is spent is not and should not be dictated by the school or the bus company.)

    Can you really not see that kids and situations are different, and that parents should be able to make their own decisions?

  101. Beth November 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    “one could hire a neighbor’s teenage daughter to escort the child back.”

    I don’t know about any other communities, but in mine the younger kids get out 25 minutes earlier than middle and high school, and they are on different busses. All these solutions…my kid can walk just fine.

  102. Cora November 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    I didn’t realize the theme of this blog when I first stumbled on this article and misinterpreted the conscious efforts of “free range” for just laziness in picking up one’s child…so the irritated responses make more sense to me now. My bad. However, consider this from another perspective: the school bus is an extension of the school, or rather, a delivery service for the school. If you were sending very valuable, irreplaceable items through a delivery service, you would request signature on arrival to verify that they are received by the intended party on the other end, right? This is just good business practice. The school and/or the bus driver does not want to pry into your business, or your parenting style. They DO want to safely deliver a living, breathing human, particularly one who is just barely old enough to ride a bus alone. If they set up procedures like this it is because they are trying to hand them off to a designated, responsible person, so that they can go on with their business most efficiently- mission accomplished. Dropping off a 5 year old, alone, to an empty bus stop, can be an area of concern for drivers and school officials. And as for the, “well I survived it just fine” argument, sure- you did and this can apply to a lot of things, but it doesn’t completely hold water as a rationale reason. In the old days, pregnant moms smoked and drank and there were no car seats. Corporal punishment was routinely meted out to children in schools. There was no sex offender registry. Child labor laws. Developing new policies to help ensure safety of children is not a bad thing. I am happy to live in a town where kids still rove freely in bands to visit ice cream stands and play in the parks. But this occurs while they are under the jurisdiction of their parents’ care- the “off” school hours. The school’s responsibility is to teach and keep them safe for the hours they are under their watch.

  103. lollipoplover November 20, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    So kindergarteners=Delivered Fedex packages?

    I’ll take my *lazy* parenting style over treating my child like a package any day. Teaching my kids how to responsibly commute to school, starting at early ages like kindergarten, is a fundamental part of parenting. Treat them like imbeciles and they will act accordingly.

    Children are not Happy Meals that need drive thru service.
    It’s a walk from a bus stop,not Mission Impossible.

  104. Donna November 20, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    “And as for the, “well I survived it just fine” argument, sure- you did and this can apply to a lot of things, but it doesn’t completely hold water as a rationale reason.”

    The point is not that we survived something dangerous by pure luck. It is that we were perfectly safe walking. It is not as though kindergarteners were getting hit by cars and kidnapped left and right or were wandering willy nilly and into roadways barely escaping with their lives when I was a child. Kids, even in kindergarten, got out of the bus and walked home in a safe manner as they had been taught by their parents prior to starting kindergarten.

    Compare that to seatbelts and carseats. Car accidents were much more fatal prior to the introduction of both those things. Engineers saw an need to fix a problem – car accident fatalities – and came up with seatbelts and carseats. Makes perfect rational sense to change a dangerous policy (holding baby in your hands so it is nice projectile in a car accident) with a safe policy (actually keeping the baby IN the vehicle and not in a field 20 feet away).

    There was no need to fix kids walking safely from the bus stop to home. No policy change was needed as the original way was not actually dangerous.

  105. Emily November 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    @Warren–It’s not up to the bus driver to judge a child’s after-school arrangements, but if little Jimmy goes to karate class after school on Wednesdays (for example), and needs to be dropped off at the stop closest to the karate dojo as opposed to his usual stop, then that’s useful information that the bus driver should know.

  106. Donna November 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Pentamom – I have no idea how this pick-up thing is manageable. My guess is that it falls in line with you do what you have to do. If the only other option is your kid going back to school and then you have to figure out a way to go get him/her, you figure out a way to be at the bus stop no matter what it takes.

    Personally, I find everything about the school bus inconvenient. It comes too early. It drops off too late. Parents have to meet it. That is why we don’t do the bus.

    In my area, the government is controlled by the middle/upperclass white folks living in the nice downtown areas of the city. It is well known and highly complained about. They control policy and, yet, are completely removed from the struggles and needs of the rest of the populous. They also tend to be older first time parents, multi-generation college-educated, hipsters – aka prime helicopter parents. They truly believe that kids up through 9 can’t walk a block alone (I can count on one hand the number of kids who walk to school alone at my child’s school and have fingers left over. They all walk with parents). And, frankly, it is all academic to them as their children will never step foot on the school bus so the actual ramifications of the policy are never even considered.

  107. SKL November 21, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Cora, If I am unusually concerned about a package being stolen it is up to me to ask that it require a signature. And it annoys me when people require a signature for something small and I end up having to schedule a trip to the post office because I am not always home when the mail comes.

    Likewise it should be up to me to request special security measures for my kid. “Of course you want this” doesn’t go over well with me.

  108. SKL November 21, 2014 at 1:30 am #

    Our buses only drop off at the kid’s regular bus stop. Do others get bus service to wherever their kid is going on a given day?

  109. Donna November 21, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    “Our buses only drop off at the kid’s regular bus stop. Do others get bus service to wherever their kid is going on a given day?”

    I imagine that you could arrange for your child to get off the bus at different places or even to take different buses on different days, but it would have to be a consistent plan and not willy nilly.

    For example, my daughter takes the bus to the YMCA two days a week for an after school program. We live between the school and the YMCA and the YMCA bus also drops off in our neighborhood. If she took the bus home, she would ride the same bus every day, but would be dropped off at home some days and taken all the way to the Y on others. My daughter’s best friend, who lives a block from the school so isn’t even zoned for bus transport at all, takes the bus to her mother’s shop most afternoons.

  110. Beth November 21, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    “They DO want to safely deliver a living, breathing human” and so do parents want to receive one! Seriously, do you really think most parents would like their kids to die or get kidnapped on the way home?

    I taught my children the route home from the bus stop. We walked it together. They learned about cars, and traffic, and corners, and crosswalks. And when they were ready, they walked on their own. I was a terrible parent in many ways, probably, but I refused to believe that my decision to let them walk home from the bus stop was damaging to them in any way.

  111. Warren November 21, 2014 at 11:49 am #


    As for the school, or driver not being comfortable with anything is the most assine arguement yet. I am not going to do something just because someone else isn’t comfortable. If they are not comfortable, that is their problem, not mine, and they can suck it up.

    As for package delivery, hate to burst your bubble but I have 4 barcoded stickers on one of our doors so that the companies that deliver to us just drop, scan and go. No signature required. As a matter of fact a multi thousand dollor order of tires was done just that way this morning. So any other excuses/reasons you can think of.

    What it gets down to, is it is our choice, not yours, not the drivers, not the schools. And it is about time people like you learned that.

  112. Warren November 21, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    LOL, at the mission impossible. I can remember walking home as a kid, pretending it was mission impossible with my friends. We would try to secretly track people walking the same way. Probably took us 4 times as long to get home.

  113. Warren November 21, 2014 at 11:55 am #


    Going on a different bus or getting off at a different stop is a matter of notifying the drivers, nothing more. Has absolutely nothing to do with walking home from the bus stop. And as far as that goes, they don’t even have to know why the change, as that is none of their business.

    We are seeing this more and more, with people be fired for tweets, or whatever. Schools and employers over stepping their limits into private lives.

  114. SKL November 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    I dunno, I just saw the brochure I got from our bus company and it says they will only drop off at the assigned bus stop. Maybe if I needed an exception they would make one, but I don’t think the bus drivers would just take my kids’ word for it.

    Our rec center does have a deal where some of the nearby schools have busing to their afterschool program. But I assume that is a regular every day arrangement.

    When I was 7yo, my 5yo sister and I hopped on our friend’s bus without our parents’ knowledge and spent the afternoon hanging out in another city. The bus driver didn’t notice anything amiss, nor did anyone at the school. I understand things are different now. I must say that isn’t all bad. 😛

  115. Emily November 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    @Warren–I know the reason for the change is “nobody’s business,” but I was just thinking in terms of a point of reference, and the way most people talk. So, “Please drop Jimmy off at the stop on Main street near the karate dojo on Wednesdays,” would lead most people to believe, “Jimmy takes karate after school on Wednesdays.”

  116. lollipoplover November 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    For you:

  117. Jen G. November 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    This is also policy where I live, but you also have to take your kindergartner to the bus stop each morning. When I asked why, I was told that at some time in the past a group of kindergartners were waiting for the bus in the morning and it was late, so all of the kids went to the playground and no one knew where they were.

    That was the only response I got.