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JCPS cancels another two days of school after bus fiasco on first day

A woman with a lanyard speaks to a line of students entering a school building. A school bus is in the background.
J. Tyler Franklin
School counselor Racaiya Darden welcomes students at Schaffner Elementary on the first day of the 2023-2024 school year.

After Jefferson County Public Schools’ new bus routing system failed on the first day of classes Wednesday, the district has canceled an additional two days of school.

After a disastrous start to the school year last week, Jefferson County Public Schools has canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday. The district had already canceled school on Thursday and Friday after numerous issues with bus rides on the first day of school caused panic and uproar among parents.

JCPS spokesperson Carolyn Callahan said the district has not yet decided when students will return, with a Wednesday return not guaranteed.

“We hope to have students back in class sometime next week,” Callahan said via email. “We will send families and staff an update on the rest of the week by Monday evening.”

JCPS tried to implement a new bus routing system this year to address a dire bus driver shortage, but the plan failed on the first day of school. Students arrived home hours late, and many parents called the police in an attempt to locate their missing children.

In a news conference Friday, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio apologized for the debacle and assured parents that he would work quickly to correct the problem. He foreshadowed the coming week’s closures, but assured parents that they were not considering moving to remote instruction.

“There are still going to be challenges, there are going to be delays. We’re working in the same system,” Polio said at the news conference. “But it's going to be much more efficient, and our communication will be much better with families and schools. So we want to make sure we get that right before we put kids on the school bus again.”

A dozen legislators from Louisville slammed the district’s leadership for the fiasco and said they want to consider breaking up JCPS, which is Kentucky's largest school district.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.