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After numerous complaints, school superintendent will hold talks at the district office.

COURTESY PHOTO: DREAMSTIME - The Newberg School District will hold a meeting Monday evening to allow parents to ask questions and air grievances about the performance of the district's new bus company, Student Transportation of America.

Parents frustrated with the district's busing system will have an in-person opportunity to ask questions and air their grievances next week.

The meeting, hosted by Superintendent Stephen Phillips, will take place at the district office from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday. The gathering will come after weeks of complaints from parents about the performance of the district's new busing company, Student Transportation of America (STA), and the problems that have ensued since the school year began.

On the district's Facebook pages, parents have reported repeated instances of buses arriving late, missing stops, driving incorrectly, excessively long routes and changing schedules at the last minute. Other complaints have pertained to bus shortages and overcrowding, with some students forced to sit on the floor or ride with children from different schools.

"Today my eighth grader was picked up by a bus full of elementary school students and was taken on a crazy long route that was different than the route on the app," Patrick McNair wrote on Sept. 8. "My daughter was on the bus almost an hour before finally getting dropped off at (Chehalem Valley Middle School) late. To top it off, when I called Student Transportation, I learned that they didn't have a driver for all routes so they combined some, without notifying parents. I asked what bus my daughter needed to get on to come home and it was different than her normal bus route. I asked how all the kids on the route would know that and she just said, 'good point'. This is unacceptable."

On McNair's post, Kat McNeal commented that kids with special needs, in the foster care system and without consistent living situations heavily rely on busing. Karen Diaz Carmona added to the list migrant students, whose parents work early in the morning and cannot drive them to school.

Prior to this fall, First Student had served as the district's busing company for the last 15 years, during which no problems this severe or chronic had ever been reported by parents. In March, the Newberg School Board awarded a bid to provide service to Student Transportation of America over First Student and another company.

"In previous years, it's been the opposite (issue)," Jon Boschee, a parent in the district, said in a phone interview. "Our first time using the bus, they (the app) drove us crazy with bus notifications. This is the total opposite. It's pretty frustrating."

When Boschee contacted the busing company directly, he said they recommended that his kids walk across a street with no sidewalks to a different stop to be picked up, which he said put their safety at risk.

"The whole thing seems very poorly done," he said, adding that the explanation he and his wife were given about why the district switched busing companies was inadequate.

This week, Phillips released a public statement addressing the busing debacle.

"Since the launch of our school year, the superintendent's office has received a number of emails from concerned parents regarding their child(ren)'s bus routes," Phillips said via email and social media to parents. "Due to there being a similar theme in these emails (questions about safety, inquiries about transportation reimbursements), I thought it would be helpful if I responded to each of these emails with an invitation to come to the district office and speak to me in person about their concerns."

While the invitation was initially only sent to parents who reached out to Phillips directly, Phillips clarified to all school district families that they are welcome to attend.

"First, this is not a secret meeting that was scheduled with the intention of excluding anyone," he said. "It was scheduled with the intention of facilitating a handful of parents who took the time to reach out to me personally with their busing and transportation concerns. I felt it would be helpful to them if I answered their questions in person, in a group setting."

Phillips also asked that anyone who plans to attend the meeting email his executive assistant, Tabitha Renne, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"We are working hard to resolve all challenges surrounding our busing," Phillips said in an email. "Getting our children to school promptly and safely is at the very top of our priority list."


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