Student safety could be as easy as ZPass

Local News
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — An area program promises to improve the safety and security of kids who ride the school bus. Each student who rides the bus would get an identification card for a ZPass.

Parents would be able to use a website to see the time, date and location of where their kids get on and off the bus. Balanced calendar schools, Barkstall and Kenwood, will be the first to try it out.

Barkstall teachers have been told it’s coming. The bus barn says they’re trying to figure out how to get the ID cards to kids.

“I think the default should be, a parent is present at the bus stop.”

Jodi Chatham has been fighting for change since her 6-year old was left outside alone for a half-hour. She says Dylan Kyle’s teacher put him on a bus to be taken home when he was supposed to go to an afterschool program.

“They’re butting heads with me on policy changes. They say they can’t do that and I think they should. I think it should be a default that a parent is present.”

It’s not the first time the district’s been under scrutiny. An 8-year old student took video of a school bus driver making an unauthorized stop.

In it she says, “We’re at the gas station right now. The bus driver is getting snacks and we’re not supposed to be here.”

But, parents, like Chatham say she might finally feel better because of the ZPass.

Its website states: “With ZPass ridership visibility, you always know the location of the bus, who is on the bus and where and when they entered and exited.”

“That would be amazing. Even if they had an app that says, a lot of schools have apps that track the buses. Even that would be helpful, but scanning and keeping track of kids in some sort of way, that would be awesome.”

Right now, only Kenwood and Barkstall will get it. The bus barn says, once the program gets started and there’s a better understanding of how it works, it could be opened to other schools.

Until then, Chatham says she’s doing everything she can to make sure Dlyan is never left alone outside again.

“I got Dylan a house key and a cellphone. He is 6-years old and has a cellphone, so I have taken precautions in case something does happen again, he’s not locked out of the house.”

School district leaders say the program isn’t far enough along to discuss it. 

In 2017, Unit #4 was one of 36-districts to be awarded the Don Carnahan Memorial Grant, from Zonar. It received up to $50,000 for the latest school bus security, safety and efficiency technology hardware.  

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