No child left behind (on the bus): Local schools bring back program to ensure every child is accounted for

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Fargo Public Schools say a bus safety feature introduced last year was such a success, the schools are bringing it back this year.

Now that Fargo students are back in school, the district is working to ensure each student riding the bus is accounted for.

"A couple incidents last year, where the school was notified that, 'my child didn't get off at their bus stop,'” the schools’ superintendent, Rupak Gandhi, said. “...students choosing to get off at a stop that's not their own because they go and spend time with a sibling, or go and spend time with a friend."

According to Thursday's dispatch log, one child was reported missing from a school bus. Fargo police tell us the student never got off the bus. But thankfully, was later brought home.

Gandhi tells us while the school has no data yet, its "Here Comes the Bus" program that was introduced last year was a success. So it's coming back again this year.

"Each student in Fargo Public Schools will receive a card that we tag onto their backpack,” Gandhi explained. “And then whenever they get on the bus we'll scan that card. And whenever they're getting off the bus they'll scan the card as well."

So the school will know the date, time and location of a pickup and drop off.

Meanwhile parents at home can download an app, to have that information right at their fingertips.

"So they know when they got on the bus,” Gandhi said. “And it also lets them know if there's been a bus change or something of that nature."

So what can parents do to make the most of it?

Gandhi says, if you can, you should download the app.

"If not, feel free to give us a call," he said. The school can notify you of the same information.

Parents should also let the school know if a child is missing as soon as possible. Gandhi tells us kids often switch backpacks in the middle of the year, or with wear and tear, the card will come off. So parents should keep track of that. And parents should remind kids to scan when they get on and off the bus.

"That pressure falls on our bus drivers right now," Gandhi said. That way, kids will get in and out quicker—though Gandhi says, no kid has ever been late to school from scanning.

"Not to the level where I've heard that concern," he said.

Officials with Fargo Public Schools say in coming weeks, the "Here Comes the Bus" program will be up and running—but it doesn't have a date yet. Stick with Valley News Live for updates.

West Fargo Public Schools has a similar program that started in 2016. But we're told West Fargo cards use a computer chip—where Fargo cards utilize a bar code.