Bus Complaints Continue in Rochester

Some Rochester parents aren’t ready to drop the subject of the firing of former Route 5 bus driver Ralph Stinson, pressing the Rochester School Committee and Superintendent Douglas White on November 16 for a resolution to their ongoing concerns about Stinson’s firing, as well as complaints about the replacement bus driver.

Some parents also complained that neither White nor the Braga Transportation bus company had returned emails and phone calls relative to parent concerns about one of the bus drivers that has since replaced Stinson.

Rhonda Baptiste said her son had ridden with Stinson driving the bus, and she never had any concerns about safety or quality of service. That now has changed, she said.

“You’d think that it would be a given that the bus driver would show up every day … but it’s not,” Baptiste said, alleging that there have been some days this year that the bus has not even come to collect her child for school, and on at least one occasion did not stop to pick him up. Baptiste specified that it was not the regular bus driver she was complaining about, rather one of the substitute drivers.

“I am just here to say that Ralph is wonderful,” said Baptiste,” and it’s really disheartening that the children don’t have him on the bus.”

Baptiste said she had contacted Braga several times and has heard nothing back. School Committee Chairman Tina Rood told Baptiste that concerns should first be addressed to Rochester Memorial School Principal Derek Medeiros who would then take her concerns to Braga.

“It’s unfortunate that there’s been no movement and no dialogue,” said Baptiste. “It’s disheartening … that there’s been no progress.”

Elizabeth Souza, another parent, said she had received no response from calls or emails from White or the bus company. She claimed one bus driver has been arriving in the morning at different times and not signaling or stopping to wait.

“Your job is to make sure that every child is to and from school,” said Souza, her voice getting louder. “I’m chasing the bus!”

“Then we need to address that,” said Rood. The best way to communicate is by calling Medeiros, Rood said, advising other parents as well. “We understand your frustration.”

But Souza continued, adding, “If Ralph was early, he would slow up with his yellow lights flashing approaching my stop. She doesn’t even put her yellow lights on. She’s just like ‘vroom!’”

“First and foremost,” Rood told Souza, “your concerns need to be addressed. Let’s get that done…”

During the October 12 meeting, when parents first brought their concerns to the committee, White disclosed that Stinson had been switched from Bus 5 because one student was not being transported to school, which is in violation of the transportation company’s contract with the schools.

This time Stinson himself was seated in the room during the discussion. After he was given clarification on the proper procedure for parents to follow should they have a concern – phoning Medeiros first before the bus company – Stinson said, “So I paid the price because they didn’t go to them (Medeiros)?”

“We’re working towards a resolution together,” Rood said.

In other matters, Medeiros gave a presentation on the highlights of the 2017 MCAS scores.

Beginning with Grade 5 science, Medeiros was happy to report that recent science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) coaching of teachers has resulted in 70 percent of fifth-graders scoring in the proficient or exceeding expectations category, which is 24 percent higher than the state average.

With further science curriculum development and teacher training, Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos said, “I think you will see even greater performance on such standardizes tests.”

In ELA, just about 57 percent of students school-wide scored either at or above the 500 mark – not quite the 60 to 65 percent goal, Medeiros said, but this was the first year of this MCAS format.

For math, 51 percent of students school-wide scored at or above 500. The state average was 48 percent this first year of the tests, and again, Medeiros said, the goal for next year will be 60 to 65 % meeting or exceeding expectations.

The student growth score was at 66 percent, though, said Medeiros with optimism. Student growth score reflects individual progress of students year after year.

“So we see that our students are growing, and that’s great,” said Medeiros.

The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee is scheduled for January 4 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester School Committee

By Jean Perry


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