The clock kept ticking as parents of some 40 Roosevelt Elementary students who live on Patrick Air Force base waited for the school bus to deliver their kids home on the afternoon of Aug. 16.
School got out at 2:30 p.m., the normal time. Kids are usually home by around 3 p.m. At 3:25 p.m., parents started to worry.
George Williams, mom of three in first, third and fifth grade who were on the bus, called the school.
“There was an accident, the children are on the bus and we’re just waiting for the paperwork to be finished,” Williams said the school secretary told her, adding that she was also told the bus had been in a minor fender-bender with no injuries, and parents were not allowed to come and pick up their children.
“I figured that they’d be leaving in a minute,” Williams said. “I figured it’d be quick because they’d been on the bus for almost an hour by the time I called. But the time, it just continued. We’re pacing, we’re waiting for the bus.”
Still, no one contacted the parents. There was no robocall, no text message, no social media post, no alerts from the Brevard Public Schools app. Nothing to keep the parents updated – or even to let them know what caused the delay in the first place.
The students finally arrived home at 4:20 p.m., about 90 minutes later than usual and nearly two hours after school got out. Williams said everyone was fine, albeit a little hot and thirsty from sitting on the bus for so long.
The incident left Williams and her neighbors questioning how and if they and other parents throughout the county would be notified in the event of a more serious incident.
Roosevelt principal Kimberly Humphrey did not respond to an email or phone message asking for comment.
BPS spokeswoman Jennifer Wolfinger sent a brief email reply in response to a request by the Beachsider asking about protocol for emergency messages, among other questions.
“Parents are typically notified when students are involved in an incident,” Wolfinger said. “This was a rare, unfortunate circumstance where that did not occur. The principal later communicated with families to apologize for any concerns this may have caused and to reassure families that they will review their procedures to prevent this from happening again.”
Brevard Public Schools has the ability to mass-communicate with families via text, email or phone with a recorded message.
“At the school level, administrators manage mass communication responsibilities,” Wolfinger said.
Williams said she did not receive the later notification, nor did most of her neighbors with students on the bus. She said one parent did receive a text message at about 5:30 p.m. Williams did hear back from principal Humphrey the next day, saying she would be happy to meet with Williams to discuss the issue.
“The moment an accident occurred, I would have thought I would have gotten notification,” Williams said. “I’m pushing forward to have a meeting with the principal. I want to hear what the procedures were that should have happened. I want to hear why they did not happen and what the fix is going forward. Because if this happened once, it can happen again.”