Local Editorials

Our view: Answers needed on Districts 47, 155 school bus inspection incident

Administrators at Crystal Lake School District 47 and Community High School District 155 owe students, parents and the public an explanation for what happened before and after an Illinois Department of Transportation bus inspection Oct. 17.

Ten school buses were moved from the bus depot shared by the two school districts before they could be inspected on that day, according to IDOT and District 47 officials. The Transportation Joint Agreement, as it’s called, is the busing service that maintains a fleet of 125 buses to take about 12,000 students a day to and from school.

District 47 Board President Rob Fetzner said in October that he expected a final report on what happened. We hope the board shares that report with the public so parents know what went wrong and what the districts are doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“Unbeknownst to TJA directors, buses were removed from the lot following an error in judgment by a TJA employee,” a District 47 spokesperson wrote in an emailed response to questions from the Northwest Herald at the time. “The buses were tested and have passed the inspection. This is a personnel matter that is being dealt with.”

Parents are rightfully concerned about what happened. They deserve answers.

There are unanswered questions about what happened and why. Was there something wrong with the school buses that someone didn’t want state inspectors to see?

We expect the TJA and the school boards that oversee the shared busing operation to be transparent with the community. Trust diminishes quickly when matters of student safety are kept secret.

The community needs to hold elected officials accountable. School board members talk a lot about transparency and communication. So far, there has been little of either in a matter that should concern the families of every student, as most all of them will ride a school bus at some point during the year.

Our elected school board members should provide a full account of what happened, and why, as well as how it will be prevented from happening in the future.

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