Rep. McKelvey Calls for End of Maui School Bus Crisis

August 15, 2017, 3:52 PM HST · Updated August 15, 4:04 PM
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State Representative Angus McKelvey of Maui is renewing his call for a specific timeline for resolution of the school bus crisis on Maui as frustrated parents want to know when the situation will be resolved.

Maui Now graphic.

McKelvey said the situation has “reached a boiling point” saying parents are so exacerbated by a lack of a resolution and communication from the state Department of Education about resuming school bus service that they have begun a sign waving protest campaign at Lahainaluna High School.

“According to the parents, neither they nor the school have received any concrete timetable or further information from the DOE about when, if ever, this issue will be resolved,” McKelvey said.

“Although students affected by the crisis were excused from any tardies for last week they have no advance notice of whether this will be the case week by week making them very frustrated in trying to plan for work, medical appointments and other essential family issues,” McKelvey said. “It leaves parents little or no time to plan…how are they expected to plan for weeks two, three or four when it is a continuous wait and see by all affected parents, and local school workers.”

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McKelvey said he initially asked the governor and the appointed Board of Education “to humbly intervene” as complaints from parents about the effect the denial of service was having on families.

In response Mike McCartney, Gov. Ige’s chief of staff, said they had “reached out to Department of Education officials, who assure us that they are doing all they can to remedy this urgent situation.”

“Parents have expressed their profound anger and disappointment in what they see as a hands-off approach from the governor’s office in their reliance on these assurances, because there has been no communication of any estimated timeline as to if and when complete bus service will be restored,” McKelvey said.

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Despite the DOE contacting Ground Transport about exercising the option to issue subcontracts to other qualified bus vendors to run these routes, McKelvey said they have failed to do so.

“I firmly believe that because Board of Education is appointed by the governor, he can be a powerful voice and advocate with the Board to put this squarely on the front burner and to deliver some sort of solution and specific timeline to the community as soon as possible,” he said.

“There is no question that this has caused, and continues to cause, stress and damages to the parents and children that are adversely affected,” McKelvey said. “It is bad enough this bus shortage was sprung on the community at the last minute and now the Department expects the parents to continue to take up the slack for an indeterminate amount of time.”

“From issues with their work to gridlocked traffic to planning the schedule for their keiki, the lack of perceived action on any type of fix – be it temporary or permanent by the DOE – continues to erode both the quality of life for our families and adversely impacts the learning experience overall,” McKelvey said.

The state Department of education announced the shortage of bus drivers with CDL licenses on Aug. 1, 2017 saying high school students at Lahainaluna and Baldwin, as well as 6-8 graders at ʻĪao Intermediate are being asked to find alternate rides until staffing can be addressed. County officials indicated that the county-run Maui Bus was unable to accommodate the influx of students needing school bus transportation.

The bus vendor for public schools on Maui was 15 drivers short when school started. That shortage has since been reduced to 14, according to the latest information released by Ground Transport. Education officials have said that routes will be restored as new CDL bus drivers are hired.

Meantime, students and parents at Maui High and Maui Waena Intermediate are advised that school bus routes are under temporary consolidation due to a current shortage of drivers. All riders at these schools will continue to be picked up, but scheduled pick-up and arrival times are temporarily modified from previous years, resulting in some delays and longer travel times. Updated schedules are available on our website.

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