RICHMOND, Va. -- Parents have been raising concerns about late and overcrowded school buses as Richmond struggles with a manpower shortage, but one veteran bus driver said parents and their children are partly to blame for the issues the district is facing.
Deidra Brooks, who worries about her children on the bus, believes conditions are "very unsafe."
Dominica Dickens, another concerned parent, said district officials told her they do not have enough school bus drivers.
These are among some the complaints from parents upset over the conditions of their child's school bus.
But now one veteran Richmond bus driver is sharing her side of the story.
"We're not their babysitters. We're here to do a job and that is to get these kids back and forth to school safely,” the driver, who spoke with WTVR CBS 6 on the condition of anonymity, said.
The woman, who wanted her name withheld because she feared retaliation by parents and possibly losing her job, said drivers constantly deal with extremely rude parents and students.
"I think the drivers are just fed up with the disrespectfulness of the children," she said.
She thinks some children are acting out to impress their friends on the bus and that their behavior makes her feel "disgusted."
In addition, the driver believes overcrowding on some routes comes from parents refusing to take their children to their designated transportation hubs.
"The parents will bring the students to the stops that's convenient for them, and drop them off and when we bring them to school, they leave the school grounds and come back in the evening to get back on the buses," she said. "And that makes us have an overload.”
As a result, she said that in some cases that causes school buses to be late.
And those are two reasons she said morale is so low for some drivers that they do not want to come work. When they call out, it leads to a manpower shortage.
"We have supervisors, yard foremans and office staff even driving the buses now," she said. "This is not fair because they have to... accommodate them, saying we are the problem,” said the bus driver.
Richmond School Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden released the following statement in response to the driver's allegations:
"Our transportation department has implemented a number of processes to address the needs of our growing population to include a shuttle system for buses where overcrowding became an issue. Without the support of all of our families and a willingness to work with our bus drivers to adhere to these systems, we will continue to face challenges. In order for RPS to operate an efficient and effective transportation system, we need everyone's cooperation. Our goal is to safely transport our students to and from school on a daily basis and that requires a collaborative effort between families and our transportation department. Our bus drivers strive to do an excellent job in serving our families and for that I thank them."