Wichita Public Schools officials react to concerns about bus crash

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Public School officials are responding after much concern surrounding a bus crash on Wednesday.

Dozens of students and several teachers were on-board when the accident happened on the Kansas Turnpike.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol crash log, the bus driver lost control, forcing the bus into the ditch and on its side. Eighteen students were taken to the hospital. The bus driver was not hurt and was wearing her seatbelt according to the crash log.

The biggest question for parents is why the district allowed the students to go on the field trip even with winter weather conditions.

District officials said they thought it was safe for students and teachers to travel.

“We have a weather team process that kind of analyzes the information that we receive from a variety of sources to make those decisions,” said Terri Moses, director of safety for Wichita Public Schools.

Some parents said they called teachers the morning of the field trip to the capitol to voice their concerns, and were told it would still go on because it was already paid for.

Moses said that information did not come from the district and was simply not true.

“In regards to paid for, that does not make an addition to any of our decisions,” said Moses. “This is a combined decision. The parents made the decision to send their students as well as our decision making to continue to have it.”

While other school buses in the district made it safely to their field trip locations, officials said there is room for evaluation and progress.

USD 259 plans to review its crisis management process and will make changes to the policy.

“If we don’t make a policy change, then I don’t think we are reacting appropriately,” said Moses. “I think we need to take a critical look at what we do and how we make decisions.”

Luckily, all students and teachers arrived back in Wichita safely.

But, some parents said they’re still concerned about not receiving enough information about the crash.

The district acknowledges the need for improvement in the notification process.

“It’s a very difficult decision and we have to meet mandatory requirements in terms of how many hours we train students,” said Moses. “It’s not a decision that is taken lightly.”

Officials say the reason it took so long to alert some parents about the crash was because student files were not updated with a current emergency contact.

Parents are urged to make sure their child’s information and emergency contacts are up-to-date in the district’s system called ParentVue.

Officials said they were not allowed to comment on the condition of the students who were hurt in the crash.

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