West Maui lawmaker Representative Angus McKelvey Wednesday called on Governor David Ige to intervene in the student transportation crisis that has adversely affected West Maui as well as other school districts on Maui and Kauai.
“The situation is completely unacceptable, especially when you consider all the Lahainaluna High School students that need access to a campus that is not readily serviced by other transportation means including a county bus route,” McKelvey said. “The bus shortage has exasperated an already existing traffic problem as parents are now scrambling to get kids to school by their own means before the workday.”
McKelvey’s concerns are with parents and families who may not be able to afford private transportation and solely rely on the bus system to get their keiki to and from school.
“Parents who don’t have the means to afford last-minute private transportation are going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to get the kids to school,” he said. “And, while the Department of Education’s relaxation of the tardy rules and breakfast times will help somewhat, many of these kids may be forced to miss large segments of school time. This, in turn, could result in inadvertent involvement in the court system for their parents because their children are not being at school for the required amount of time.”
According to McKelvey, “it is unfair to parents in this situation to be faced with potential legal consequences for actions beyond their control especially considering the last minute notification of the bus shortage.
“It is especially troubling that the DOE spokesperson said that there were no reported problems related to the bus issues only illustrates further that the DOE is disconnected from the challenges that we are facing with this issue here on West Maui,” McKelvey said.
The West Maui lawmaker also expressed his concern that the Board of Education allowed the bus contract issue to “spiral out of control” before the beginning of the school year and a shortage of drivers should have been discussed well before the start of school.
“The lack of qualified drivers for certain routes should also have been disclosed during the procurement process,” he said. “Especially when it is a new Oahu based vendor that has never provided any transportation for the schools in Maui before.
“On behalf of all the hard working parents and their keiki of West Maui, I am humbly asking the Governor to step in and have the Board of Education either issue a supplemental contract for the busing services at Lahainaluna High School, and any other areas, or rescind the contract in its entirety for failure to perform.
“With the start of the high school on Wednesday, and other major traffic events coming up, this situation could go from bad to very bad in a short period of time,” McKelvey said. “The bottom line is the vendor should be able to perform as promised, and did not timely notify the DOE. Therefore, the department and the Governor need to use their powers of the executive branch to take whatever actions are necessary to address this bus driver shortage – an issue which never should have occurred of in the first place.
“In an area where the schools are not serviced by county bus routes, an immediate busing option is needed, especially for parents and families who can’t afford to simply call a taxi or grab a rental car to get the kids to school before going to their two or three jobs needed just to make ends meet.”