Macon county school buses potentially dangerous

Posted by: Mark Bullock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Macon county school system's school bus operation is the focus of a new state investigation. WSFA 12 News acquired a copy of the report by the state department of education. It indicates problems that could "potentially affect student safety."

According to the report, the state inspected Macon county's 50 school buses and found 23 of them had  "major mechanical deficiencies."

Here are some of the report's findings:

  • No Monthly Inspections
         Monthly inspections of buses were not performed as state law mandates.

  • No Adequate Documentation
         The system does not maintain adequate documentation of bus repairs.

  • No Preventive Maintenance
          Most buses are in "very poor condition."

  • Too Much Work Outsourced
         The system's mechanics have limited ability to perform repairs and are outsourcing much of the work.

  • No System of Accountability
         No one is responsible for ordering and receiving parts.

  • Communication Limited
         Drivers and supervisor do not communicate well enough.

According to the state, the percentage of major problems in Macon county's school bus fleet jumped from 20% to 46% over the last year. The state average for major bus problems is just around 4%.

"We are talking serious mechanical deficiencies and that put children's lives at risk and somebody will be held fully accountable for that," said State School Superintendent Joe Morton. "That is inexcusable in my opinion."

If it weren't for Montgomery county loaning out some of its busses, the Macon county school system could have been forced to shut down. It now has until October first to come up with an action plan. If it doesn't work, the state could take over the bus system.

State school officials say Macon county's interim school superintendent, Dr. Jacqueline Brooks is doing a good job and is already addressing many of the problems.

WSFA 12 News left a message at her office Thursday, but did not hear back.

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