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Mom Wants Brevard Schools Bus Policy to Accommodate Divorced Parents

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FloridaToday: A Titusville mom wants the school district to change its bus policy to better accommodate children of divorced parents who split their time between two homes.

Although there's a bus stop near Diane Snyder's Titusville home, her 15-year-old son isn't allowed to use it. The Titusville High freshman is only permitted to use the bus stop about five miles away near his father's Windover Farms home, which is considered his legal primary residence.

Synder plans to appeal to school board members at their meeting Tuesday.

"I want to try and convince them to rewrite their current policy in favor of treating all children the same regardless if they have one home or two," she said.

District officials say they are unlikely to be swayed, noting the potential for pandemonium if they started making exceptions. There are also safety concerns, officials said.

Mike Connors, director of transportation for the district, said on average they get 40 to 50 requests per month regarding changes to bus schedules.

"We get all kinds of requests for multiple bus stops, from 'I want my kid to go to the aunt's house today' or 'I need him to go to grandma's on Tuesdays and Thursdays,' " Connors said. "You name it, we get it."

Unless there is a court order, the answer is always no.

"One of our strengths in this district is consistency," Connors said. "We're not telling one person one thing and doing something different for another."

District officials do accommodate students who legally have two primary homes. Among the more than 28,000 students who ride school buses, 74 are allowed to ride different buses because the court system recognizes them as having two homes.

Even though Jake's legal residence is his father's home, Snyder and her ex-husband share joint custody of their son. He splits his time equally between his parents' houses.

Snyder said getting a court order that recognizes Jake has two primary residences is a costly, time consuming effort.

"I think that's an unfair financial burden for the parents," Snyder said.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris March 9, 2010, 3:56 PM

Sorry, but I agree with the school on this one. There is no safe way to regulate dropping kids off here one day and somewhere different another day. What if there is a change in custody and the child is no longer suppose to go to the other parents house but no one tells the school/bus driver and the kid still gets dropped off at the other parents bus stop. I’m sure the other parent would then blame the school. Synder needs to go through the court system and do it the right way.

Lisa R. March 9, 2010, 8:38 PM

I obviously live in a MUCH more accommodating school district. There are times I need my daughter dropped off at a different stop (other end of the street) to go to her grandparents’ after school. All I do is send in a note with her, and they give her a bus pass to get off at the other stop. And often I forget the note, so I call the school, and they give her a bus pass. How complicated can this be for the school? I think they are making it harder than necessary.

Wendy March 10, 2010, 8:55 AM

There is no reason the school shouldn’t accommodate, especially considering they share joint custody. Unless the father is unwilling, the parents should go in to court together w/o attys and petition for an order. It’s a no-brainer unless one of the parents is going to contest. And the only cost involved is the cost to file the petition (not much) and the time to appear before the judge.

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