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DECLINED: Superintendent kicks back petition to improve Gateway bus stop safety

District staff reviewed the bus stop site in-person with parents in February. There is a memorial to a deadly crash right across the street.
Posted at 1:56 PM, Mar 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-17 13:56:40-04

GATEWAY, Fla. — An effort by parents to improve safety at a Gateway school bus stop has been blocked by the Lee County school district.

Gateway’s Community Correspondent Ella Rhoads has been hearing from parents for two months about a bus stop on Treeline Avenue that they want to move inside their neighborhood to improve safety.

Across from the stop, a memorial marks a deadly crash, which children see every morning as they gather for the bus.

Deadly Crash Memorial in Gateway across from School Bus stop
On March 16, 2024, a memorial from a deadly crash sat right across the street from a school bus stop on Treeline Avenue in Gateway. Parents want to improve the stop's safety by moving it to an existing bus stop shelter just inside inside their Marina Bay subdivision.

“It doesn't pull over to the side of the road,” said Aarion Henderson. “There's the curb, then I have to walk over to the middle.”

Henderson graduates later this spring, but he's worried for his little brother who will take the same bus next fall.

"He's just a middle schooler. It's absolutely not safe for him,” said Henderson. “I feel like they don’t really care about our safety. You know it makes you feel like they don’t want to put the effort in to ensure that students are safe.”

Henderson’s grandmother and other parents, like India Palencia, first brought this to Fox 4’s Gateway Community Correspondent in January, as the parents petitioned the district to move the Treeline stop inside their subdivision, which had built a safe bus shelter in 2015.

January 11: Parents petition Lee Schools to move bus stop on Treeline in Gateway

In February, the district send staff to review the bus stop, and Palencia accompanied them.

But things have not turned out in their favor.

"The same frustration I continue to feel every single time," said Palencia

A letter from Superintendent Dr. Bernier denied the petition and stated quote “there will be no further action regarding the bus stop."

Lee Co School Super Letter on Gateway Bus Stop
A letter from the Lee County Schools Superintendent denied a petition to move a school bus stop to a location that parents perceive to be safer, inside their subdivision and off of Treeline Avenue.

Palencia and other parents are not satisfied.

“What is it? Do we have to offer up one of our children in sacrifice so that we can get the bus stop moved? That doesn't make any sense. Why are we waiting for the unimagainable tragedy to occur for us to take action. We are being [proactive],"Palencia said.

The letter from the Superintendent did outline an appeal process that the parents can use to follow up.

Parents said they plan to attend the next school board meeting on March 26.