CMS parent of nonverbal student concerned after contract continues with transportation vendor – WBTV

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Concerns from parents continue over a company the district uses to transport special needs students.

Our investigation began after parents from Highland Renaissance Academy called WBTV with concerns after their kids were three hours late getting home last week.

A spokesperson for the district told WBTV they discontinued their contract with vendor VC Limo, but we learned the vendor is still operating at 18 other schools within the district.

Kirsten Dowell is a 21-year-old senior at Hough High School.

She is nonverbal and in the Exceptional Children’s program.

She rides a typical school bus to school, but on the way home she rides a van through VC Limo.

“Last week the van didn’t show up to her school, and her teacher notified me and I had to go and pick her up,” her mother Danni told WBTV.

She says that happened Wednesday, which was the same day parents of Highland Renaissance Academy students told WBTV their children were home three and a half hours after school ended.

Previous Coverage: CMS students, some nonverbal, dropped off by school bus more than three hours after pickup

On Thursday, Danni says Kirsten was an hour and a half late getting home.

When she and her husband got her off the bus, she says they did not recognize the driver.

“He was quite a mess and not sure of what to do and stated he had two more schools to go to, and had some physical problems as well,” she said. “So we removed her off of the bus and then called the next day and said she wouldn’t be riding.”

She also sent CMS an email detailing her concerns.

Last week, a district spokesperson said CMS discontinued its contract with the company.

When WBTV followed up this week, the district says that contract was only cancelled at Highland Renaissance Academy, and is still in use at 18 other schools including Hough High School.

We asked the chief operations officer for CMS what they are doing to ensure these issues do not happen again.

“I know there was a transition in some leadership with the contractor and our transportation executive director worked directly with that to make sure that they know what our expectations are,” Brian Schultz, CMS Chief Operations Officer, said. “We also have the opportunity to search for other vendors if they can’t meet the level of expectations that we have.”

Dowell says she does not understand why the district would continue to put students in these vans in light of the recent safety issues.

“Please assure safety of our children’s transportation home, especially those who can’t speak for themselves and for all the special needs,” she said. “No child left behind means that too, getting them home safely.”

Dowell says someone with the district told her they are working on alternate transportation for her daughter.

Until that solution comes, she’s driving her herself.

WBTV reached out to VC Limo and they said they have no comment.

A spokesperson for CMS also told WBTV:

When parents have a complaint, we take them very seriously.

Please ask them to call the CMS Transportation Call Center at 980-343-6715 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to report those complaints.

Related: CMS parent claims child was removed from school bus because it was overcrowded


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