Some Orange County parents scrambling to get kids rides to school


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Some frustrated Orange County parents are scrambling to figure out how to adjust to a daily hourlong drive to get their children to school.

As parents race to get school supplies and back-to-school clothing, some have another item on their to-do list -- figuring out how to get their children to school.

A new waiver releases some school districts from certain mandates, and that includes transportation.

That means students who were zoned for Shingle Creek Elementary and were being bused to Wetherbee Elementary School will now have to drive as much as 45 minutes to school.

"I refuse to send my daughter back to a failing school," said parent Monet Gilliam.

Gilliam said she is desperately trying to find a school for her daughter.

"I moved here three years ago thinking this was a great neighborhood and come to find out my kids were zoned for F schools," said Gilliam.

A provision of No Child Left Behind allows Gilliam's daughter, and several other children in the neighborhood, to ride a bus to Wetherbee, a higher-rated school, which is about 45 minutes away. Gilliam said she was happy with that situation.

She said she was shocked to get a letter last month telling her the district won't provide her daughter with transportation to Wetherbee.

"We actually didn't find out until a week prior to registration," said parent Zuleika Monge, who received the same letter.

The Orange County Public Schools letter said Florida received a waiver from the federal government and isn't required to bus students to other schools.

The district said it put out information about the change last year.

Some parents told Channel 9 that they didn't get the message.

"Not at all, never, no calls. I even asked if they had the information on file, and they did. And they never called and left a message or anything of that nature," said Monge.

"I was just praying we didn't have to go back down this road again but I'm just going to do everything I can do in my power to make sure my daughter can still continue to go to that same school, Wetherbee," said Gilliam.

Some parents said they can either go to the school they don't want, Shingle Creek, or find a ride for their kids to Wetherbee.

They told Channel 9 that driving their children that distance to school would be impossible for them to do if they wanted to get to work on time.