STAFFORD, Va. - A now-viral photo is raising concern in Stafford County over over-crowded school buses.
The photo, taken by a student of what her ride to Brooke Point High School looked like Monday. It appears the bus is so crowded that kids are sitting in the aisle. Some parents complain that this isn't the first time and the problem has been getting worse.
The school admits too many students were on the bus Monday morning, but they say its an isolated incident due to some drivers calling out sick. Meanwhile, parents, we heard from say this is has been happening for years.
"They were packed in like sardines in a can. There's no room, you can't even see really where the seats begin and end. And where the aisle is. There's just a sea of children's heads," said Stafford County parent Jaime Hoben.
Her daughter, a junior at Brooke Point high school texted her the photo on Monday morning of what her bus ride to school looked like. She told her mother this was after the bus arrived 30 minutes late -- and wasn't even her bus. Instead, a different bus that had already been picking up its routes that morning.
Hoben said the situation made her daughter anxious so she decided to post the picture to the Facebook page "Stafford Talk," where it's getting a lot of reaction.
Several other parents have commented that their children experience overcrowded school buses on several occasions, and it's been getting worse over time.
The school district tells Fox 5 that yes, due to a couple of their drivers calling out sick today. One of the bus drivers decided on his own, without notifying dispatch to go ahead and pick up their routes, which he was not supposed to do.
"My concern is through no fault of the bus driver, there will be an accident. We all know traffic in Virginia is crazy. It's not unreasonable to think there will be an accident. And there's the potential there for severe injury. They can be knocking heads into each other. There's a multitude of things that could happen to these kids who are not sitting in the bus seats," says Hoben.
"The bus drivers are the ones who gets the blame for this. It's not an isolated incident. There have been posts on 'Stafford Talk' and other Stafford sites all school year, last school year, the one before that. This is an ongoing issue. And it's not because one driver called out sick one time.
Stafford County Public Schools said in response:
"Stafford County Public Schools are aware that some of the buses are crowded due to a shortage of drivers and absences. Administrators are working to resolve this matter. Providing students with efficient transportation is one of the top priorities for SCPS."
It is unclear if the bus driver who took on the extra students will face any discipline.