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Mom says son's Guilford County school bus is overcrowded, students are sitting on the floor

Mom Rebecca Garris says after watching her son's video, she's concerned about unsafe conditions on the school bus.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Rebecca Garris says her son is riding in unsafe conditions on his Guilford County Schools bus.

She says he attends Weaver Academy. 

Garris says the bus also carries students to Eastern Guilford High School, and a middle school. She said the bus has too many kids on it, forcing students to sit on the ground.

She said 2-3 students were sitting on the floor. 

"2-3 is too many, one is too many, no one is supposed to be sitting on the floor at all it's a safety hazard," Garris stated.

Her son captured it on video Thursday morning.

Garris says this isn't the first time it's happened, it's just the first time her son captured it on camera.

"So I actually contacted the transportation department," she stated.

That was in October. She says after months of back and forth, a resolution was reached. 

"I'm glad we came to a resolution," Garris said. "I feel vindicated, not just for me but for these children."

The district told WFMY News 2 that there will now be two separate pickup's at the same bus stop for this particular route, to avoid overcapacity issues. This new pickup schedule will start Monday.

It means Garris' son will have to head out the door earlier, but she is more than OK with that. 

"I have to have a voice these kids," she explained. "Some of them don’t say anything to their parents about what’s going on."

She said she looks out for all children.

"It wasn’t my son that was actually sitting on the floor, it was another child," she said. "We’re trusting our kids lives in these people’s hands and they need to make sure these kids are safe."

How is the capacity of a school bus determined?

According to the district:  Nearly all school buses come equipped with 39 inch seats on either side of a center aisle. The largest buses in North Carolina are the “flat-nose” transit-style school buses that have 26 total seats. The smallest buses have 12 total seats. Most buses have either 22 or 24 seats. The rated capacity is posted on the front bulkhead of each school bus according to student grades. The maximum capacity for grades 9-12 is calculated as the number of seats times two (i.e. two students per seat). The maximum capacity for grades 6-8 is calculated as the number of seats times 2.5, where half of the seats would have two students and half would have three students. The maximum capacity for grades Kindergarten through 5 is calculated as the number of seats times 3 (i.e. three students per seat). These are MAXIMUM capacities and, while the LEA may not exceed the rated capacity of the bus, the LEA must also provide seating – within the seating compartment – for all students assigned to the bus, whether or not the assigned load reaches the maximum capacity.

In simple terms, for elementary level, there can be three students per seat. 

For middle school students, there can be 3 on one side, and 2 on the parallel side.

For high school students, there can be 2 per seat.

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