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Transportation still issue for Tubman students

Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 9:13 PM
Last updated Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 12:52 AM
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Jakeela Ragland wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to hop three city buses that take more than two hours to get her to school every day.

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Shawn Bradshaw unlocks his bike before he rides his bike home from Tubman Alternative School.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Shawn Bradshaw unlocks his bike before he rides his bike home from Tubman Alternative School.

At the mercy of Augusta Public Transit, she’s lucky if she only misses first period.

Jakeela, 16, is a Richmond County student but is not provided a school bus because she was assigned to the Tubman Edu­ca­tion Center Alternative Program this year for getting into a fight with another girl.

Students suspended from schools all across the district have to find their own way to the alternative center on Baker Avenue or miss school all together.

Jakeela said she is uncomfortable riding the city bus because of the constant fights and dangerous people she sees every day but does it because she wants to stay on track for graduation.

“Yeah, we put ourselves in this predicament, but they got to realize we’re still kids,” she said. “Everybody makes mistakes, but they act like we’re murder convicts when we’re human beings. We made mistakes, but we’re still children.”

The Richmond County Board of Educa­tion is scheduled once again to discuss providing transportation for the alternative program at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

The last time the board discussed paying for alternative school buses in March, the idea was shot down before all members could take a vote.

“It’s part of the punishment,” board member Jimmy Atkins said Friday.

With students coming everywhere from McBean to west Augusta, members said it would be too costly to run one or more buses from the alternative school to various stops across the district.

However, a grant awarded to Richmond County Juvenile Court this summer might give board members some incentive to change their minds.

The state awarded the court about $250,000 in an effort to implement more community-based programs across Georgia to help diminish juvenile crime.

The grant will pay for three therapists to counsel at-risk youth and their families at home, according to court paralegal Erin Schmidt. It could help the court put mentors at community centers to meet students before and after school.

Board attorney Pete Flet­cher said that partnership might be an incentive for the board to pay for buses to run from the alternative school to four or five community centers, shuttling students closer to home.

Parent Angel Sherrin hopes to see a change. She says having to drive her son 25 miles each way from Mc­Bean to the alternative school has kept her from keeping a full-time job.

The single mother of four children had to quit her waitressing job and start cleaning houses when her son was assigned to the alternative school this year in order to match his schedule.

“The gas is killing me,” she said. “There are so many parents like me out there trying to survive and yes, our kid messed up, but it’s like they’re setting them up for failure by not providing transportation. If I can’t take him, he can’t go to school.”

Principal Wayne Frazier said that is the case with many of his students. About 100 have never shown up or are regularly absent because they don’t have a ride, are incarcerated or transferred to another district.

He said students with disciplinary problems are the ones who need the most help to prevent them from dropping out of school or worse.

“The children who habitually don’t come to school are basically the same children who wind up in gangs, murdering or in jail,” Frazier said. “To me, it would just be common sense to focus on that group that don’t come to school and make sure the excuse is not transportation. That’s what we’re doing. Pro­viding them with the excuse for not coming to school.”

Shawn Bradshaw, 15, said he is scared most mornings when he crosses Walton Way on his bike in the dark to get to school. His mother doesn’t have a car, and he said he rides his bike so he doesn’t fall behind and can return to West­side High School on time.

He said some students are not at the alternative school for serious offenses, and because some parents don’t have cars or the time to drive, many students aren’t showing up at all.

“Put your child in the same place,” he said. “If they came here, would you tell them, ‘No, you can’t ride the school bus. Walk up (High­way) 56 instead?’

Comments (16) Add comment
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Pops 12/06/13 - 11:43 pm
It's a good life lesson

Don't get in trouble and the little angels won't have to be put out......

JRC2024 12/07/13 - 12:13 am
Yeah, we put ourselves in

Yeah, we put ourselves in this predicament, but they got to realize we’re still kids,” she said. “Everybody makes mistakes, but they act like we’re murder convicts when we’re human beings. We made mistakes, but we’re still children.”

NO, you are young adults and you need to learn to act that way instead of kids with attitudes. Working people do not have time for your foolishness and they are not responsible to pay hard earned dollars to provide you with transportation that is already there and you lost because of your attitudes.

geecheeriverman 12/07/13 - 06:18 am
No Taxpayer funded ride

Taxpayers are already paying too much for our failing education system. This "kids" know the consequences of their actions going in and should not be given special treatment. Most probably don't want to go to school anyway.

raul 12/07/13 - 07:21 am
Cry me a river. Parent and

Cry me a river. Parent and child playing out the "victim" mentality.

InChristLove 12/07/13 - 07:44 am
If these students were so all

If these students were so all fired up to go to school, why did they get suspended and assigned to an alternative school. They didn't seem to care so much about school when they committed the infraction but now they want to complain because someone isn't providing them transportation. I feel sorry for the inconvenience but consequences are not always pleasant.

deestafford 12/07/13 - 07:59 am
One thing I noticed...

One thing I noticed as a common thread is there is no mention of a father in any of the situations. Could this possibly be a linkage to them having to attend the alternative school?

nocnoc 12/07/13 - 08:10 am

Once again I see the Resource we are discussing is only

WHY??? Last time I checked RC County Property
Taxes actually provided about 50+% of the budget support to the
RCBOE system?

Considering we have such a large county shouldn't the resource
be located in the Middle to be Fair and Equal?

Say closer to US 25 and Lumpkin Rd
to allow EQUAL access and City bus service?
Heck why not use the Augusta Tech buildings on Lumpkin Rd.?

Or Has the RCBOE,
Without coming right out and saying it, determined that
DOWNTOWN Students account for the largest numbers of
suspended students for the RCBOE system?

Maybe a 2nd location would in fact be better.
Again I suggest closer to US 25 and Lumpkin Rd to allow EQUAL
access and still have City bus service? CLOSER to Butler, Glen
Hills, Josey and a few schools that seem to have the most
problematic students?

There are some 24 pages of Serious reasons a Student can be suspended.

ymnbde 12/07/13 - 08:35 am
can you imagine the pandemonium on that bus?

let us plan ahead
driver, armed
security guard front, armed
security guard middle, armed
security guard rear, armed
no students in the rear of the bus
escort vehicle front, escort vehicle rear
goodness... what a horrible article
perhaps if we had a breakdown of potential associated costs?
potential logistical problems?
potential benefits and probabilities of these kids actually graduating?
interviews with the teachers at their former schools, and how the school is positively affected by their absence?
the Chronicle charges too much money for substandard articles such as this...

seenitB4 12/07/13 - 08:42 am
You break it--you pay for it

I will agree with nocnoc though....a 2nd location is needed..Lumpkin Rd is a great choice....

griff6035 12/07/13 - 12:37 pm

Seems like it needs to be placed on the person who gave these unruly beings life. I am sorry but where is the sperm donor of these beings, single mother of four.

Discussionstarter 12/07/13 - 01:19 pm
She mad a mistake; are of you commenters mistake-free?

I know I made mistakes and I do not think one of these commenters are mistake-free. She is trying. I do agree that what she is going through to get to the alternative school is a little too much. The city and RCBOE should re-evaluate.

Sweet son
Sweet son 12/07/13 - 02:23 pm
Don't agree with nocnoc or Seenit; my friend.

Adding a second location would be equivalent to adding the bus service and would be hugely more costly than the buses, drivers and fuel.

No transportation and make the student and lack of parenting pay for the problem!

fatboyhog 12/07/13 - 03:10 pm
The solution is simple, and free

If you want a bus to take you to school, don't be a little heathen and lose that privilege. They are actually lucky that I'm not in charge. I have zero tolerance for disrespectful people, especially youths. Your first time getting kicked out would be your last, because I'd ban you from public school. Mommy and daddy could pay for you to go to military school or some other private school, but you dang sure wouldn't be attending public school. It's not fair to the teachers who are there to teach (not babysit or referee) and it's not fair to the students who want to learn. Act right or move along.

KSL 12/07/13 - 05:42 pm
Good comments, for the most

Good comments, for the most part.

Pops 12/07/13 - 06:29 pm

"Shawn Bradshaw, 15, said he is scared most mornings when he crosses Walton Way on his bike in the dark to get to school."

It's real easy Shawn.....keep your mouth shut and study.....I had to do it...

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/07/13 - 09:37 pm
No Means No

When a governing body considers an idea and then does not pass the motion, that idea should not be allowed to come back up before the board for at least two years, maybe more. This "sore loser" mentality is holding Augusta government back, and now we see that it is holding RCBOE back.

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