Petition Calling for Ames Community School District to Cut Ties With Durham Busing Service

AMES, Iowa  --  Durham School Services is once again accuse of putting children's lives in danger. A new petition is now making its way through the community, asking the Ames School District to cut ties with the private bus company.

The petition, formed by the national group Stand Up for School Bus Safety, encourages the district to investigate its busing service, citing safety issues. The group formed after six Tennessee children were killed while riding on a Durham bus, and claims the company is  25% more likely to crash than its competitors. However, the district says overall, its six-year relationship with Durham has been good.

"Although we've had some start up problems with Durham, we've been very happy with them and have had no safety concerns. We've never been concerned about the safety of the students," says Christine Stensland, the district's chief financial officer.

Parents with children in the district haven't always thought that. Safety concerns stem back to the 2014 school year, when the bus service was accused of dropping off students in intersections and drivers asking students where their stops were located. The district and Durham vowed to make changes then, and now the district says more changes could be coming, as results from the district wide transportation study are almost complete.

"We've hired consultants to come in and look at not just Durham, but look at how Ames delivers transportation in general. How we deliver it compared to the state law, looking at in-house versus outsourcing," Stensland says.

The district says the results could determine whether it contracts with Durham again next school year.

Ames was one of four cities named on the organization's petition, despite other school districts in the state that use the busing service. The organization was unable to tell Channel 13 how Ames was selected to be on the petition or how many signatures have been collected.