Parents say school transportation is difficult for alternative school students

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News 12 First at Five / Friday, March 1, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- They're the students who need the most help, but they're the ones getting the least. We're talking about the middle and high schoolers at Tubman Education Center.

The county doesn't provide transportation for the alternative school students in Richmond County.

It's a problem that freshman student Devin Blount has experienced firsthand.

"It was a mistake, I was just hanging with the wrong crowd," Blount said.

Blount says that mistake landed him in the alternative school, but despite some wrong choices, he's determined to graduate.

"Without education and your diploma, you're worthless," he said.

But his journey to his diploma is a little more difficult than it is for most students.

"Have to go early in the morning to catch the city bus, and if I miss it, that's it, I can't go to school that day," he said.

Alternative school students don't have access to the Richmond County school buses. Their families have to find a way to get them from every corner of the county to Tubman Education Center.

Edna Tankersley, a parent of a TEC student, says, "I had to hire someone to bring her back and forth to school."

Tankersley lives all the way out in Hephzibah, but since she works, she has to make other arrangements for her daughter to get to school.

"They are punishing me. They did not punish my child for the mistakes she made, they punished me," Tankersley said.

Stories like these are what caught the former first lady of Augusta's attention.

"Some of these children get up at 4 in the morning and ride bicycles. There's no real transportation out on the south side," said Gwen Fulcher Young.

She and Dr. Wayne Frazier, the principal of Tubman Education Center, are on a mission to find a solution.

"In order for us to help them, they have to be in the building. They can't get in the building if they don't have transportation," Frazier said.

They're urging the community to come together to find a solution, even suggesting community members to "adopt students'."

"Help make arrangements for them to get back and forth to school," he said.

"They can put kids on the bus that go to the magnet schools, this is a Richmond County school also," Tankersley said.

And she's right, students who attend magnet schools in Richmond County are also spread out all over the place, but they have bus transportation available to them. These parents are asking, why are we punishing the students who already have the most problems and the least amount of resources?

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