SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Now for a story you'll only see on Western Mass News.
A Springfield mother says her seventh grade son is being forced to take a public bus to school, learning, after two days of classes, that a school bus would no longer stop near her neighborhood.
The parent we spoke with said officials with the Springfield Conservatory of the Arts informed her that her 12-year-old son was chosen for a PVTA bus program.
She was told her son was expected to go to the PVTA bus stop on the corner, wait for the correct bus to arrive, and board.
"He's a seventh grader. He's twelve years old," Karla Woodward, the parent of a Springfield Conservatory of the Arts student, tells us.
Karla Woodward's son is a student at the Springfield Conservatory of the Arts.
She says after two days of school and no school bus in sight, she had to call the Conservatory.
"She told me that my son was a child who was chosen for the PVTA system this year," stated Woodward.
On a pass paid for by the school, Woodward says this is how officials explained her son's new route to school.
"He would have to find buses T1 through 5 that comes to our end of Sumner Avenue, Firglade and Sumner. He would then have to take that PVTA bus to State Street and holler to the bus driver that this was his stop," says Woodward.
And when school is over...
"He then would have to be dismissed with the rest of the bus students, walk up State Street, and across to the STCC campus, where he would then catch the PVTA vestibule at the STCC campus, where he would then again try to find buses T1 through 5 to get him back to Firglade and Sumner Avenue," explained Woodward.
Woodward says the thought of her son waiting for the bus on Sumner and crossing State Street is scary, but she says there's a more pressing safety hazard the school hasn't clarified.
"Anyone can ride the bus with these children in this PVTA situation. In this world of predators, gangs, the list goes on, I just feel that we are putting our children at risk," continued Woodward.
We reached out to the Springfield Public School District and, over the phone, an official told us they frequently charter PVTA buses to their schools on State Street, and that's the case with Conservatory.
He did tell us that, although the chartered buses are sent to specific pick-up and drop-off points, the buses cannot refuse a member of the public and that they can still ride along with students.
"Certainly we wouldn't allow members of the public to walk into a school off the street," said At-Large Sprinfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman.
Springfield city councilor Jesse Lederman says parents have reached out to him with concerns as well and that this is a policy he wants to see change.
"We do not want them being in unsupervised situations with members of the public when they are supposed to be under our care," noted Lederman.
"If that was given to me, to leave it in my decision and my choice, I would've opted out of that right away. We would've known, start of school, we are going to have to pick up and drive our son to school. There's little to be asked of that responsibility. I think that's a big responsibility," added Woodward.
The school official we spoke with over the phone told us this PVTA charter bus system has worked for years.
School officials tell us they are preparing a statement for us on the issue, and that it will be forthcoming.