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Posted on Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Ann Arbor elementary children miss buses after communication snafu

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor Public Schools’ effort to communicate with parents about late buses Friday morning backfired and resulted in children missing the bus and showing up late for school.

“This will never happen again on my watch,” said district spokeswoman Liz Margolis.


Liz Margolis

Margolis sent out emails and a robocall through AAPS’ PowerSchool system to elementary parents at about 7:30 a.m. letting them know buses would be at least 10 minutes late picking up their children.

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Transportation Department, which operates busing for AAPS, communicated to Ann Arbor’s Executive Director of Physical Properties, Randy Trent, that slick road conditions were affecting drivers. By the time drivers finished the secondary bus routes, Trent was warned, they would be 10 minutes behind schedule for the elementary routes.

Margolis said while the district never has informed parents of late buses before, parents repeatedly have asked to be notified of transportation delays, so the district tried to comply.

She said she made the decision to send out the nearly 7,500 emails and “a little less than that” in phone calls with the guidance of Trent and Superintendent Patricia Green. However, there was obviously a breakdown in communication and “what we thought was happening on the roads, wasn’t actually happening and (the buses) got there on time,” Margolis said.

District officials met with WISD transportation officials shortly after school began Friday to discuss what happened. Margolis said there was a miscommunication and buses actually were running “up to” 10 minutes late rather than “at least” 10 minutes late.

Transportation officials rerouted many buses to avoid the highways Friday since there were a number of accidents, Margolis said.

She sent out a second email to elementary parents at about 10:30 a.m. apologizing for the sanfu. The email read:

Dear AAPS Families,

I apologize for the inaccurate information that was communicated to you this morning regarding delays in bus service. There was obviously a break down between transportation and AAPS in what was actually happening out on the roads and what we needed to communicate to families. The end result for some students was missed pick-ups and confusion. This is not acceptable and I apologize. We just met with transportation to ensure this does not happen again.

Sincerely, Liz Margolis

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Hmmm ... would the end result have been any different if the district was running its own transportation department? However, I agree. This is a non-story.


Sun, Mar 11, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Yes, it would be...completely different. Parents are getting the shaft when it comes to transporting children with drivers who are only in it for the money. Most parents cried when they realized they were going to loose their favorite driver. A lot of the original drivers are no longer there. If some are? They are leaving in June.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:02 a.m.

I appreciate Liz's honesty here. But where was the super in all of this?


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:44 a.m.

Does Ms. Margolis make the decision to send the announcement? No. She is just communicating the directions given by "those in charge." Whoever that is.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 2:42 a.m.

The horror. The horror -


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

I just hope nobody wants to know the origin of the word SNAFU, which is really an acronym. Perhaps a better word would be 'mix-up'.

Fat Bill

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

10 minutes is hardly much to get excited about. I would think it more appropriate to use 30 minutes as a criteria for district-wide notification. If the system can be tweaked to identify riders on specific routes, then minor updates might be worth the effort. Having worked in a district with both suburban and rural routes, it was not uncommon for the subdivision kids to be on time but the farm runs (30 miles in some cases!) would be a little late. Common sense should prevail here.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

She sent out a second email to elementary parents at about 10:30 a.m. apologizing for the sanfu. The email read: SANFU. Can that be used in scrabble? It must be in spell check.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

It is a restaurant here in town


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

If this all we have to worry and complain about today life is very good.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Margolis can't win either way on this one, and is doing the right thing by working on it to make sure it doesn't happen again. It was an honest attempt to alert parents, and it didn't shake out the right way. Live and learn. No big deal.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

As long as WISD is in charge? She never will. She might as well realize this is a loose loose situation until WISD bows out of transportation.

Small Business Owner

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

We saw the email this morning as well, and decided to drive our daughter instead. Let's call it what it is - Margolis tried to do the right thing and it back-fired. Let's get over this. Boy, what makes for news these days.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Back in my day the bus was often 5, 10, 15 minutes late. And parents didn't wait at the bus stop with the kid. We've become soft people! We shouldn't need a notification that the bus will be a few minutes late.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

It was up hill both ways! We used to eat rocks for breakfast! We used to go barefoot for months at a time -- until Pa would kill another sabertooth tiger to make us new moccasins!


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

So, Who is loosing their JOB? With the Unemployment rate 13% in Michigan, there must be somebody who can replace the person who screwed up and do a better job!


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

Trinity will replace half of the buses in September. WISD never wanted all of it. They only wanted the special ed runs. Trinity is already involved in transporting your children. I would be very worried and very scared. I have seen Trinity drivers look on while children are not seated and controlled.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.


say it plain

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

I do hope you're kidding. Though it's really none too funny ;-)


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

It's an inexact science. And while I have been critical of the AAPS, this is not something to make a big deal out of. Even though it no doubt was a big deal to a lot of parents.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

I'm just glad to see Liz Margolis step up to the plate, admit an error occured, and promise to make things right in the future. City officials should read a page or two from her book.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

WISD put Liz in this really uncomfortable position. Never would have happened if AAPS did not privatize. WISD is a complete failure.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

I had a feeling there would be problems when I saw the bus leaving it's stop at the usual time. While I appreciated the notification, my gut told me to just act like it was a regular day/regular bus schedule.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

Margolis said there was a miscommunication and buses actually were running "up to" 10 minutes late rather than "at least" 10 minutes late. Heh, that simple mistake would have made a difference to me. The latter is open-ended, and I decided to drive the kids rather than wait an undetermined amount of time. But no big deal here, I hope everybody else managed to get to school safely.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

This never would have happened if AAPS did not privatize their transportation dept. This is what happens when WISD gets involved and has no clue how to do this job right. Sorry Liz, but I would put blame where blame is due. With WISD and with the parents. Why? Because even if the buses are late? Half the time they would have ended up at school on time.