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Parents frustrated after school bus stop confusion in Neenah

Posted at 6:01 PM, Feb 01, 2024

NEENAH (NBC 26) — Parents were concerned and frustrated after a school bus coming from Horace Mann Elementary took kids back to school instead of the bus stop after an incident.

  • Neenah Joint School District says bus took students back to Horace Mann Elementary after an "incident" involving driver
  • Jeremy Fifield is a Horace Mann parent who says communication should've been clearer
  • District says driver will no longer be driving for Horace Mann

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

When Jeremy Fifield arrived at this bus stop to pick his son up from school, there was no bus. I’m Olivia Acree reporting in Neenah about the confusion after school when a Neenah bus route was cut short, and students were taken back to the school.

While Jeremy Fifield walked me to his son’s bus stop, he walked me through what happened there Wednesday afternoon.

“I was sitting right over here in my car waiting for him. I'm like, something's wrong... He’s like hey, did you hear about the text? I'm like, no,” said Fifield.

A sigh of frustration turned sigh of relief when another parent filled him in. The kids had been taken back to Horace Mann Elementary after an incident on the bus.

The school district told me it texted parents "immediately after the students were dropped off at school," said a Neenah Joint School District statement.

And parents, the district said, could pick them up there or wait on a later bus. But Fifield says he never got a text.

“If I hadn't been off work, he would’ve been sitting there till five. I was a little confused and a little outraged,” said Fifield.

Another frustrated parent told me:

“It put a knot in my stomach to get a phone call … saying the kids never showed up at the bus stop,” said the parent, who asked to remain anonymous. “A lot can go through your mind about what could be happening.”

The school principal sent an email to parents Thursday morning calling the incident "scary" and "confusing" for students.

The email also says there's an apparent problem of "unsafe student behavior" on the bus and they'll be working to address that.

Fifield says once he knew what was going on he rushed to the school to pick up his first grader.

“He was very shaken up about it. [My son was] like, what did I do wrong? And I'm like, buddy, you didn't do anything wrong,” said Fifield.

The district says there's no evidence the bus driver had any physical contact with students and it's confident the situation is resolved.

The principal also said the bus driver will no longer be driving for Horace Mann, putting parents like Fifield a little more at ease.