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Live blog Thursday: Hammond’s holds forum on school bus safety

A week after a New Orleans City Council forum on school transportation safety, one of the city’s busing companies is holding its own public meeting on the same topic.

The Hammond’s Transportation forum will take place at KIPP New Orleans Leadership Academy, 2300 St. Claude Ave., at 6 p.m. Thursday. I will live-blog the meeting below.

Hammond’s provides bus service for about 20 schools in New Orleans, including Akili Academy and Paul Habans Charter School. On Feb. 3, Akili first-grader Shaud Wilson died after being hit by a car as he ran across a four-lane street to his bus stop. A day later, a car struck and injured Habans third-grader Desean Denis after he exited a Hammond’s bus and began to cross a residential street.

The company said in a news release that the purpose of the forum is to “discuss and address transportation concerns the community may have and to brainstorm ideas for improving student safety of all schools.”

In an interview Friday, Hammond’s operations manager D’Juan Thompson said Hammond’s was not informed of last week’s City Council forum, which was organized by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell.

Cantrell spokesman David Winkler-Schmit said the office focused on decision-makers — mostly educators — and didn’t specifically invite bus companies.

At that forum, city officials and educators discussed the possibility of centralizing school transportation to improve safety and streamline costs.

Right now, the city’s 40-odd charter groups individually contract with Hammond’s and other private bus companies. Some schools provide bus tokens instead. This year schools budgeted about $30 million for transportation, up from about $18 million for the 2004-05 school year, according to a Lens analysis.

Officials also discussed increasing the number of crossing guards at schools and installing more traffic cameras near school zones.

Live blog

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About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her reporting on charter school transparency and governance. In 2012, she was part of a team that received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for their work following a New Orleans family's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School in Algiers, and she obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. She can be reached at (504) 575-8191.

  • disqus_qtvF4sydqM

    So the meeting on transportation safety ends up being about children who misbehave on the bus and parents who need to be more involved, right?

    What about the company’s responsibility for safer pick up areas? How about shorter bus routes so students don’t have to leave home before 7:00 a.m. which is when school zones take effect? Did anyone consider having monitors who serve as crossing guards instead of just sitting on the bus waiting for students to misbehave?

    Has anyone started tracking the paths of students who ride the buses to ensure that they don’t have to cross busy, multi-lane streets? It is a simple solution that all schools should adapt before another child is lost. The bus companies are contracted by the school. It is still the ultimate responsibility of the school to get the children to school safely.