Mayor Cantrell: There needs to be more accountability for school bus safety

Mayor Cantrell: There needs to be more accountability for school bus safety

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -“Our kids were on that bus yesterday, and now they have a concussion and broken arm, so it comes full circle as far as my administration,” says Mayor Latoya Cantrell.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell says the city of New Orleans is sounding the alarm on school bus safety, after a bus accident sent 9 kids to the hospital.

Today, yellow buses rolled into New Orleans’ Ground Transportation Bureau Inspection Station. It’s part of the city’s reformed permitting process.

“We know that we are doing a better job. We have seen through an uptick in buses coming through, but we do recognize that the number that are in need of inspections are still here,” says Cantrell.

The Hammond Transportation bus that hit a guard rail for unknown reason and overturned near the bottom of the I-10 High Rise was not permitted to be on the road.

It turns out, the city’s Safety and Permits Director says right now, less than half of the company’s buses passed inspection.

“We can’t just shut the company down, but Hammond’s Transportation is not about 50 percent with us, and that’s something we’ve been working towards,’ says Zachary Smith.

The city only controls the permitting process and doesn’t have the authority to stop the company from putting drivers on the street. Mayor Cantrell says though with that kind of record, Hammond Transportation should not be allowed to operate.

The driver in question, Chad Rodney, faces multiple citations and a municipal summons because the city says he wasn’t permitted to drive the school bus. The city says it denied Rodney’s permit in September because of a previous cocaine arrest out of Calcasieu Parish.

“So, we need help in getting there. That means, the School Board being accountable, along with the Charter operators who hold the contracts with these independent school bus operators,” says Cantrell.

Right now, bus transportation is contracted at the school level with individual Charter School Operators, but the Mayor says the Orleans Parish School Board must be more involved.

“You’ll see more coming from my office for better accountability from these Charter organizations and the Orleans Parish School Board that’s pretty much been silent and pointing to these Charter Operators. They need to be held accountable,” says Cantrell.

Orleans School Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis says he’s directed a team to explore options the district can take to increase bus safety and demand schools and their bus providers work with the city to get buses inspected.

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