Polk County charter school changes bus route after parent contacts 8 On Your Side

Daughtery Road in Lakeland.

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA )– At the beginning of this school year, Polk County parent William Berry reached out to 8 On Your Side, telling us he was concerned for his children’s safety as they walked to their school bus stop  in Lakeland.

The two children, a 13 year-old and a 16 year-old, had to walk on Daugherty Road alongside traffic, and then cross Galloway Road. Their walk was about a quarter of a mile long. “There is no sidewalk, no curb and gutter, no lighting. When the time changes, it is going to be dark and there is a lot of traffic on this road at that time of day,” said Berry.

The Berry family filmed the route for themselves and sent the video to school administrators at McKeel Academy of Technology, hoping it would open their eyes.When it didn’t, he sent his concerns and the video to News Channel 8.

“I do road construction and people get distracted all the time and they will veer toward that white line. The kids were walking right on the white line because they didn’t want to walk in knee-high grass…our biggest fear was that they would be hit by a car,” said Berry.

RELATED: Polk County parents raise safety concerns after teen’s death near bus stop

Officials at McKeel Academy of Technology declined an on-camera interview, but sent an email to News Channel 8’s Melssa Marino, claiming they would review this stop and contact the parents to discuss options.

On Thursday morning, big changes were in place after school officials made a house call last week to check out the route for themselves.

“It’s totally because of News Channel 8 and Melissa and everyone involved that we were able to get our request met,” said Berry.

The new bus stop is now just 100 feet away from their home. In an e-mail sent to News Channel 8, the Director of Schools for the Schools of McKeel Academy Alan Black said the changes were made on Wednesday and the students were moved to an alternate stop along the route.

RELATED: Polk teen hit by car on way to school dies from injuries

“They did have to change some bus routing a bit and some of the timing. It was not an easy solution for McKeel to make and a lot of credit goes out to them for coming out and looking and agreeing that this might not be the best scenario for the kids,” said Berry.

Bus stop safety is a problem Polk County knows far too well. Over the past five years, four Polk County students lost their lives either walking to school or a bus stop.

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