Parents and Fayette Co. School Official React to First-Day Bus Chaos

FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va (WOAY) – On Wednesday morning, the focus was the traffic getting kids to school at the new Oak Hill complex. That evening, concerns shifted as parents reached out to Newswatch about county buses running hours late and dropping kids off at the wrong stops. 

One of these parents was Tiffany Walton. She has kids from the high school to the primary at the Oak Hill complex including some at the new schools. 

On Wednesday night, her kids were all supposed to be home by around 4:15 p.m. They didn’t get home until 6:00 p.m. One of her children arrived and said he didn’t know where the others were even though they were all supposed to ride the same bus. From there, questions began circling through Walton’s head. 

“Are they on the wrong bus? Have they separated them? Because Lord knows, my six-year-old is not going to run with that,” Walton said. “That is not gonna sit well with her. Are they clueless? Like seriously, and then I got to thinking what if there was a wreck? Because Lord knows, I can’t get through the line. What if something happened? Is their bus driver okay? Are the rest of the kids okay? I wonder how many parents right now are just as upset and scared and worried as I am.”

The next day, Walton got with some of those parents to go to the Fayette County School Board to complain including Ruth McMillion. McMillion’s autistic son also rode the bus for about two-and-a-half hours and was nervous to go back on Thursday.

“For a child to be on the bus for two-and-a-half hours having to use the bathroom and stuff, that’s unacceptable. That’s just not acceptable to me, but I’m hoping that somebody will recognize that we need more help, that this new school needs more help. Put in a new school, get more buses,” McMillion said.  

Although bus mishaps are typical on the first day of school, Fayette County schools Director of Operations Tim Payton said this was not a normal first day. After receiving many phone calls from frustrated parents and having many show up to the schools looking for their kids, county officials and school faculty and staff met Wednesday night to discuss what went wrong. 

“I just think there were a lot of moving parts,” Payton said “And I think that we were dealing with new bus runs, people coming from different areas than they’re normally coming from to come to school, and I just think there was some of that going on. Eventually we did get everyone home. Our goal is to have them home a whole lot sooner tonight.”

School officials did say most of the bus issues came from the Oak Hill Middle School and New River Primary.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.