Fulton County eliminates bus transportation for children of out-of-county teachers

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A perk that some say attracted out-of-county teachers to Fulton County Schools will soon disappear and some teachers worry it could drive quality educators to other districts.

Starting next year, the district is eliminating bus transportation for out-of-county teachers whose own children attend schools in the district.

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The policy allowed those students to catch the bus from the school where their parent works to the school they attend.

“So you’re allowed to hardship under those circumstances. You’re just required to provide your own transportation,” said one teacher, who contacted Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik but asked not to be identified. “The fact that they’ve had the precedent for years, that staff and faculty have been allowed to put their kids just on the next phase of the bus loop, to jerk it out of nowhere makes no sense.”

That teacher works at a high school, which has a different start time than the middle school her child attends.

“I’m hoping they reconsider. Because if students come first, teachers, kids, staff, members, kids, our students, too,” she said. “And, if you’re wanting to keep good teachers, this isn’t something that costs extra for us to be allowed to do.”

Another teacher told Petchenik she works at an elementary school but has a middle schooler.

“I have to be in my classroom ready to receive kids at 7:10 a.m.,” she said. “He can’t be on the school property until 8:20.”

The teachers told Petchenik they learned about the change over Mother’s Day weekend, after they were to sign their contracts for the next school year.

“(It) felt a little bit dirty,” the teacher said.

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Petchenik reached out to the Fulton County School District and spokesman, Brian Noyes sent him this response:

“FCS values our employees and is dedicated to ensuring an open and friendly work place to serve the needs of all students. An email was sent…to employees who were approved for an employee hardship transfer notifying them FCS bus transportation between neighboring schools for students with employee hardships would not be allowed next school year. This decision is in line with Policy JBCD which states that “transportation to the approved school (for an employee hardship) is the responsibility of the parent”. By alerting employees now, regarding the practice in August of the 2021-22 school year, the small number of impacted employees have ample time to make other arrangements for transportation of their children between schools.”

Noyes told Petchenik while there are about 1,040 hardship transfer requests approved in the district, the policy impacts fewer than 70 Fulton County students who use transportation.

The teachers who contacted Petchenik argue the bus rides aren’t a liability and don’t cost the district any more money.

“Every single email as an employee we receive says: ‘Relationships matter,’ she said. “This does not feel like that.”

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Petchenik conducted a Twitter poll to ask viewers if they thought teachers should be able to keep this perk.

As of Wednesday, about 51% of the nearly 300 respondents voted “no.”