COVINGTON - Buses delivered approximately 40 Indian Creek Middle School students home after dark Monday evening due to a series of transportation mishaps.
NCSS Transportation Director Chuck Brasher said the students missed their school buses Monday afternoon.
"We had some students in a sixth-grade gym class who missed the call for first bus load dismissal," said Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for the Newton County School System. "The administrators were notified as the buses were leaving campus."
Brasher said when the transportation department received a call from an assistant principal from the school about 4 p.m., he sent out a substitute bus driver to pick up the students who were left behind. Brasher said a substitute was sent because other drivers were on their routes or at a class in Griffin.
The substitute bus driver went to the school to pick up the students who had been left behind, but because they were assigned to several different routes and were already running late, they didn't make it home at their normal times.
"The normal route takes about an hour, and some of the students didn't know exactly how to tell the driver how to get to their house," said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration. "When children don't make it home by about 5 o'clock, typically parents become worried, so (the transportation department) did receive some calls."
Then, when the transportation department called to check on the bus, the substitute bus driver could not be reached.
"The radio could have been turned down so low that they couldn't hear us," Brasher said. "It all kind of snowballed."
When the substitute was eventually reached, the transportation department was able to send out three staff bus drivers who had returned from Griffin to help get the students home.
"We were very late. It was probably about 6:30 when they all got home," Brasher said. "We made some mistakes; we could have done better."
Robertson said the problems were not caused by the drivers.
"They were doing the best they can; they were just trying to do a good deed," she said. "It's an unfortunate situation, but everyone got home safe."
Viniard said this was the first time such a transportation slip-up had occurred. While she said the school "already has plans in place to prevent it from happening again," she did not know what those plans are.
"The schools are going to have to help us out in some way by releasing students," Brasher said. "It would probably never happen again."
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.