FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Angry, concerned, and confused, a group of Fort Bend ISD parents said the school district is putting their children in harm's way after abruptly removing their bus service.
"(I'm in) complete shock," parent Charlie Chen said. "I could not imagine why there would not be a school bus available given how much traffic there is on University Boulevard. It's like a highway."
Chen and a small group of parents met outside their subdivision, Avalon at Riverstone, off University Boulevard near Sugar Land.
University Boulevard is the only pedestrian route they said to get their children to Fort Settlement Middle School.
The children are expected to walk alongside the major roadway filled with fast moving cars.
"We have an accident every month. A major accident. Just the day before yesterday (Saturday), there was a four-car wreck on this road," another parent, Noopur Bali, said.
The kids must cross two bridges with nothing separating the sidewalk from rushing vehicles.
"You're literally walking right next to what could be an 18-wheeler, (or) large pickup trucks," Chen said.
At about 1.5 miles away from the school, their neighborhood does not meet the two-mile radius for guaranteed bus service, but parents said the dangerous walking conditions have always afforded their children a safe ride on a school bus.
"We had a bus for the last seven years. What happened in Fort Bend ISD for them to implement it this year?" Bali said.
Fort Bend ISD sent this statement:
Fort Bend ISD provides bus transportation for students who live two or more miles from their assigned school, as measured through the district's routing system, or who live in an area defined as a hazardous route. Hazardous routes exist where no safe walk path is provided and children must walk alongside or cross a freeway or expressway, a busy underpass or bridge, an uncontrolled major traffic artery, an industrial or commercial area or other comparable conditions.
During the last school year, district staff evaluated all routes that are less than two miles from a campus using an industry-standard score sheet. At that time, the district determined the route along University Blvd. and similar routes throughout the district do not qualify for bus service. A recommendation was made to the district's Board Trustees and a list of hazardous routes was approved in April 2022.
After listening to parents' concerns last week, district staff conducted an additional review of the walk path, which included one of our staff directors riding a bike from the neighborhood to the school during arrival and dismissal times. Our second review did not find that the area qualifies for transportation.
The safety of our students remains our top priority. We routinely share safety tips for our students who walk and bike to school and encourage parents to partner with us in reinforcing these to their children.
"Somehow they've concluded that this is safe, but I challenge Fort Bend ISD to have their own children walk down this busy University and see how they would feel," Chen said.
"What happens if a student makes a minor mistake and ends up on the road? Are we just waiting for a disaster to happen?" another parent, Vikram Nath, said.