Policy would let buses in gated communities
By KELLY RYAN GILMER, Times Staff Writer
LARGO -- The Pinellas County School Board got its first look Tuesday at a new policy that would allow school buses to drive inside gated communities.
School buses are not required to go past the point where a public road meets the private road serving the gated community, though the district does in some cases.
But the district has received requests to enter some gated communities, which led to the creation of a uniform policy.
The new rules, which will face a final vote this fall, outline ways that a gated community can get service inside the gates.
For instance, a community must show that there is a safety concern and that there is room for a bus to turn around.
The homeowners' association must give written permission for school buses to travel inside the community.
In the case of special education students, the parent must get permission from the homeowners' association for door-to-door service.
That issue worried board member Jane Gallucci, who wondered what would happen if the parent of a special education student couldn't get permission.
"I don't want to put up barriers to families," Gallucci said.
"We're not allowed to go into some of these places," Superintendent Howard Hinesley said.
In other news, the board:
-- Put off a vote on a set of policies related to the new school choice plan. They have said they need more time to discuss the policies, which include rules about extracurricular activities, waiting lists and setting capacities for schools.
The policies will be discussed at an Oct. 15 workshop. They will be brought back to a board meeting for a vote at the end of October.
-- Suspended without pay Gibbs High School teacher Toni Mitchell, who is accused of being intoxicated and possessing alcohol at work. The district is moving to fire her, but she has requested an administrative hearing into the matter.
-- Suspended Dunedin Elementary teacher Eileen Hickman for five days for lying about her residence so her daughter could attend Palm Harbor University High School.
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