Mayor: School Bus Debacle Deserves Answers, Not Allegations


It takes a leap of faith to kiss our children goodbye in the morning and put them on a bus with children we do not know, being driven by someone we never met.   Our children also take a leap of faith in us –that we believe the driver will drive safely and keep order on a bus full of potentially excitable students.

Our faith has long been secure, even if we wondered about inefficiencies and waste. However, our faith is being jeopardized by allegations made over the past week.

As a Mayor of a City with 11 public schools, I recognize there is tremendous complexity involved to ensure safe and quality education for all students, including transport to and from school.  As a parent and former PTA president, I know concerns during the first week of school are common.    Historically, our coping mechanism has been to believe the first week is always filled with new and unexpected experiences.

None of that helps me understand what has gone wrong with bus transportation this year.

Facing a fast rising tide of complaints by parents, the School Board Administration says the union or bus drivers are “sabotaging” the safe and efficient transportation of our children.    While work slowdown tactics have been alleged, for instance, on factory assembly lines, the Administration’s allegation last week is extremely concerning.  Our children are NOT factory products and schools are NOT an assembly line.

The Complaints Are Varied

Since the second day of school, I have forwarded the complaints of parents, including pick up times assigned two hours before school; dropping students at school long before, as Transportation well should know, there is supposed to be adult supervision; dropping at wrong bus stops; leaving children waiting at bus stops in the morning; leaving students, including special needs students, at school long after school discharge; bizarrely late drop off at bus stops after school; giving drivers new maps during the first week; and, the persistent inability of parents and schools to get through to Transportation.

I have been asking the Administration which of these complaints can be attributed to, and what facts support, the alleged intentional “sabotage” scheme.   I have received no response from the Administration to those questions.

I do not deserve a response because I am a Mayor.  I deserve a response because every parent deserves answers.    We deserve answers because this “sabotage” allegation implicates safety and protection of our children at bus stops and schools.

If based upon unsubstantiated rumors or puzzle-piecing together thin-reed suspicions, tell us so.  Of course, without real facts an allegation of widespread misconduct and “sabotage” would be a reckless and irresponsible assault upon our faith in bus drivers.

Take Action Now

On the other hand, if the allegation is based upon proven troublemakers, then do not, for the sake of our faith in our children’s bus driver tomorrow morning, cast all drivers in the same light.   Take immediate action to quarantine the problem.

Parents know conserving resources can bring changes, transporting students is complex, and not everything is going to work perfect all the time.

What parents do not know is why no one will admit the obvious – no matter how well intentioned, it seems too much was done too quickly and without sufficient testing, technology, training, planning and redundancy.   Instead, we are asked to focus on a terrifying conspiracy of bus drivers or the union to intentionally “sabotage” safe transportation of our children.

We deserve answers based upon sustainable facts.  In time, we deserve acceptance of responsibility.

But, for now, we, as parents, need our faith restored so in that final moment before we hand over our sons and daughters to a bus driver, we are confident we are making the right decision.

(Michael J. Ryan was elected mayor of Sunrise in August 2010. President of the PTA and involved in many other school activities, Ryan has two children in public school.)

13 Responses to “Mayor: School Bus Debacle Deserves Answers, Not Allegations”

  1. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Ok to sides to every story. The bus drivers feel that if Mr.Runcie privatalizes the buses, drivers etc, then they will all be out of a job. Simple solution Mr.Runcie is you have an emergencey meeting say at1pm(if the busdrivers etc, can go to the school bd. meeting than they can go to this meeting). Again if you privatize, no one is going anywhere(if you made 15bucks an hour , you will make 15 bucks if a new system is in place). Now it doesn’t help peole threatening the Super,”blood will be shed” you should have been arrested. That and the other lady “don’t tread on me” another threat. Stop the threats. And Bd Memeber Nora Rupert you don’t help matters by being in the paper every day, w/ your usual banter. Oh I know all the money the unions ($$) gave you. You are one vote, and you,(don’t have the majority-shut up) yes you are making matters worse. The kids should be your main concern, not your benefits, etc. Thank you Mr.Runcie for looking out for the taxpayer. I mean the corruption, waste, etc. Again thank you Mr.Runcie. Some of you don’t like the changes QUIT. Stop the threats. I mean test postive for cocaine , herion, etc, and then get your job back, hell no. Change has to happen. Play games drivers, and they should be charged w/ child endaremnet. Oh I know Nora Rupert its all Mr.Runcie’s fault. Keep kissing ass Nora.Hang in there Mr.Runcie…

  2. Sunrise Parent says:

    Runcie needs to read this article from our fine mayor with the eye towards realizing that parents want the buses fixed now. He needs to forget abouit your witch hunt and fix the buses. I don’t want my children standing in the street hours again.

  3. Watching the race says:

    Great article. Mr Ryan, you’ll do well to seek higher office.

  4. Concerned citizen says:

    As a concerned citizen.I have the right as parents to make sure that the kids going to school and coming home on time and be safe and the bus driver be good and nice to our a mayor of Sunrise Mik Ryan he is aconcerned parent also and the superintendent of Broward School should make sure everything goes smoothly.

  5. Norm Price says:

    Mike that was extrodinary and I agree with you 100% and the leaders from the School Board need to stop their antics with their unions and concentrate on the children. Iknow you Mike and am proud to say I live in Sunrise and that you are my Mayor.

  6. Ferraro family says:

    Thank you for all you do for us and our children! Always going over and beyond…

  7. parent losing patiences says:

    This is so disappointing; the Mayor of Sunrise cannot get any answers to this ongoing problem. What are we the average working parent going to expect for a response? Accountability is the key! Thousand of complaints so far go unanswered. Not one solid explanation as to why our children have been sitting for hours, waiting for hours, for their buses, except to say that the union is responsible. Mr. Runcie has brought in his own army to handle these so-called problematic situations and or persons. They have had more than enough time to get these situations under control.
    Mr. Walsh I always enjoy your post and have a high regard for your opinions. I do not know if you have children, but the responses by Mr. Runcie are unacceptable to me as a parent. I expect a proper response from Mr. Runcie to the board, the parents and to the Mayor of this city of Sunrise. The parents of his community, as you can see are supportive and appreciate his willingness to get things done.
    I think that everyone is doing their best to be as diplomatic as possible in their request for answers. I do not think Mr. Runcie is being asked unexpected question on how he is managing this business know as the Broward county school system. Is this not what we are paying him to do? These politician are expected to have answers to bring to the taxpayer threw out this county. I for one want a resolution, some answers, and not a copout. We as taxpayers pay more than our fair share for busing I think we are entitled to some answers.

  8. Enough says:

    Once they privatize the school bus operation every one of these “problems” go away while saving the taxpayers a substantial amount of money.

  9. Most Likely Voter says:

    The fact that the mayor of Sunrise despite all his connections can’t get answers to his questions about the buses speaks volumes. Something is rotten in School Board headquarters. Runcie needs to clean house at the transportation department and get all new faces running the show. If that means privatizing the buses, do it now! The School Board should ask for bids to see if private industry is even interested and what the savings would be. Just because government always operated the buses, doesn’t mean that is what it should always do.

  10. Chase Williamson says:

    Unfortunately this seems to be systemic and more evidence of the deep flaws in a sprawling agency. Broward Schools boasts it has the 5th largest district in the country. I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of. Maybe it’s time to change that and sub-divide the county into smaller, more manageable pieces. What we have now is not working.

  11. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    To “Parent losing patience” Mr.Runcie had to make drastic changes as a taxpayer i appreciate that. I mean the watse and corruption was astonshing. These bus drivers i would charge them w/ child endarement. i got your back-have spoken w/ Runcie’ ast. Its people like bd.memebr Nora Rupert-who the Union has in there back pockets-needs to shut up. Don’t worry dear parent the main priority is your child’ safety. By the way did you know a bus driver curently can (get this) test postive for cocaine, herion, any other narcotic, go to rehab and go back to driving your kids to and from school-I mean do you now realize what Mr,Runcie is up against. Then som e of the drivers threaten him”blood will be shed”-I mean believe me Mr,runcie’s main concern is your childs safety-and not the bus driver’s damn benefits.Hang in there parents he will take care of this, if it means firing every one of them and getting the National guard to pick up your kids so be it. Concerned parents your concerns are being addressed as I type this….

  12. Julia for Justice says:

    THANK YOU Mayor Mike Ryan of Sunrise for voicing the concerns of our families.
    My children, too, were “victims” of this inefficient process; however, things appear to improving this week.
    Nonetheless, we DO need answers. We STILL need to get to the root of this perpetual problem.
    Fellow parents, let’s ALL continue to stay ON TOP and INVOLVED in every aspect of our children’s education…. And, as Mayor of Sunrise stated so well, urge those tasked with administration to ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for their actions…. Isn’t this what we ask our children to do???!!!

  13. donny says:

    Is Mr. Runcie getting ready to pay the state fine for once again not making class size? How many teachers could that money have hired?