Hmong Parents, Students Voice Concern About New Mpls Schools Busing Plan
Goodbye, school bus.
Hello, city bus.
Starting this fall, thousands of Minneapolis high school students will board city buses and light rail trains--instead of school buses--to get to class. Edison, Henry, North, Washburn and Roosevelt high schools are the first to participate. South and Southwest high school students will start in the fall of 2013.
It's a big change--and for some parents and students in the Hmong community, it's simply too much change.
For example, 16 year old Pa Yia Lee of North Minneapolis (who will be a sophomore at Henry High School this fall) says she's never even taken public transportation before. She explains, "If I have some people to lead me, then maybe I'll get used to it," she says. The school district says it's held outreach meetings, and even a bus-riding rehearsal event, to help ease concerns.
Still, Pa Yia says, "My parents say it's not safe. They're concerned because around here there's crimes. And also because i'm a girl.
Metro Transit says nearly a thousand students across the metro area used public buses or light rail to get to school last year--without any problems.
Minneapolis Schools leaders say switching kids to public transit isn't a cost-cutting measure--at least in the short run. They say it will simply give kids more travel options, allowing them to get to school earlier or to stay at school later.
Pa Yia, though, says her parents aren't buying it. "I tell them that I'm old enough, that I can take care of myself but they say 'no!' They're really really over-protective."
Hmong community leaders say they simply want Minneapolis Schools to keep the traditional school bus option for at least one year longer so there's kind of an overlap in place, giving students more time to get used to the public transportation switch.
They plan to lobby for the change at the next school board meeting on July 10th.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org