Cuevas excuses transporation problems

“I can assure you that it’s not “blatant” discrimination. We have challenges with our transportation that TUSD administration continues to identify and is working to quickly correct,” TUSD’s youngest ever School Board President Miguel Cuevas wrote on concerned Maxwell parent.

In other words, TUSD does not discriminate, it treats all kids badly. Perhaps TUSD will try to use that as a defense in Judge Bury’s court.

Maxwell is a school designated to receive additional transportation dollars as per the desegregation order. However, according to district personnel, the nine busses they had last year, seem to be used by the open enrollment schools this year.

A concerned Maxwell parent sent an email to the district expressing her concern over the bus issues at Maxwell. She wrote, “School is dismissed at 3:50 and buses do not arrive for pickup until 4:35 – 4:40, some not until close to 5:00 p.m. One day some kids had to wait until 6:00 p.m. for a bus to arrive. Sports participants and activity buses arrived home before our kids.”

School Board member Michael Hicks would not dismiss the parent as Cuevas did, he investigated the matter. Michael Hicks concluded, “I must say that I’m just a little bit appalled. This is unacceptable practice.”

“If you ask me keeping these kids after school for this long is border line imprisonment not to mention the 88 students who ride the buses to Maxwell that have to transfer. Those students have to stay on their buses until all 8 buses arrive then they move to their transfer bus and then the Maxwell student (300 of them) go to their buses.

“We must thank the teachers and staff who are staying late without pay after school to help keep these kids safe and out of trouble, investigate why this is happening, and make the appropriate changes asap.”

The district’s transportation department has been plagued with bussing issues this new school year. The hiring of central office administrator in charge of the transportation department, Candy Egbert came under a cloud of controversy this summer as well as the new computer software used for scheduling.

Superintendent John Pedicone had to pull a vote on the permanent employment of Candy (Vivian) Egbert from the TUSD Governing Board agenda initially, rather than risk a negative vote on Egbert. He did not have the Board’s support for the controversial administrator. Complaints about irregularities in the hiring process arose.

Egbert came to TUSD from Sunnyside. Prior to that, Egbert left the Yuma School District under a cloud of controversy. At the time, the Yuma Sun reported that, “The governing board announced on Monday the mutual decision for Superintendent Vivian Egbert to resign from the district effective Sunday….The president of the Yuma Elementary Education Association, said the majority of the 300 teachers in the association supported the board’s decision.” She was passed over by the Mammoth, and Humboldt School Districts.

The Arizona Daily Star reported on the problems with the district’s transportation system just after the first week of school. Josh Brodesky wrote, “In case you missed the chaos of the first week of school, buses ran late, buses didn’t show up, kids were sent to the wrong stops, some special education students were left stranded. There were so many complaints, the district’s antiquated phone system crashed. The chaos unfolded after the district installed new software to track the bus system, but had the wrong school and bus stop information for thousands of students.”

Superintendent John Pedicone told Brodesky, “It was awful,” This is not the way an organization can operate. This is unacceptable. And it’s unconscionable. And what we do, is we convince the public that we don’t care about service, and we don’t have our act together.”

The concerned parent wrote, “We parents make phone calls to Transportation, they never answer the phones and when they do they are very rude and tell us to contact the school. We make calls to the Superintendent’s office and are transferred back to Transportation, who ignored us in the first place, or another department that gives you the run around and takes a message for the “Director” that never returns the call.”

“Thank you for your taking the time to write us,” responded Cuevas. However, Cuevas did not thank her for all the calls she made that were not returned.

Things haven’t changed; almost a full month after Pedicone called the situation awful, Miguel Cuevas responded “We have challenges with our transportation that TUSD administration continues to identify and is working to quickly correct” It is possible that like Deputy Superintendent who needed the word” dramatically” defined for her in her recent appearance in TUSD. Mexican American Studies appeal, Miguel needs someone to define quickly for him.