Mike Collins' 11-year-old daughter was supposed to be bused directly from Hyde Park Middle School to the YMCA after school Monday, but she didn't show up on time.
Collins and staff at the YMCA, near Meadows mall, started calling the Clark County School District's transportation department at 3:15 p.m. They couldn't get through.
He'd hang up and dial again. Hang up. Redial.
Collins couldn't get through because he was contributing to the 6,000 calls that jammed the district's hot line for transportation problems on Monday, the first day of school. Doug Geller, the district's assistant director of transportation, said the number of calls to the hot line remained about the same Tuesday. About 100,000 students, or one-third of the district's enrollment, ride the bus.
YMCA staff finally got a ring on the other end of the line, according to Maureen Sisto, YMCA youth and family director. She got word that Collins' daughter, Victoria, was mistakenly taken to Clark High School, near Pennwood Avenue and Arville Street, and was then sent to Culley Elementary School, near Jones Boulevard and Washington Avenue.
"But no one had physically seen my daughter," Collins said, recalling his worry as he sat in Culley's parking lot, waiting.
At 5 p.m., his phone rang. It was YMCA staff calling from 2.4 miles away. Victoria had stumbled into the building at 4141 Meadows Lane after walking from Culley during the day's 108-degree peak. Staff wrapped her in cold towels and handed her cups of cold water.
"Her face was as red as a tomato when I got there," said Collins, who took her to an urgent care, where doctors treated her for heat exhaustion and blistered feet.
After Victoria told her father what had happened, his face turned as red as hers.
Victoria said she told the bus driver that she was supposed to be at the YMCA and asked to use a cellphone. The driver said she couldn't do anything for her, so Victoria got off the bus and headed for the YMCA with her bag.
"I'm so far beyond pissed," Collins said. "I can't even get my head around how the hell that happened."
When Collins' language grew more colorful, Victoria chided him, saying, "Dad, that's a bad word."
"I usually don't swear, but this past day ...," he cut himself short. "Fortunately, she made it there."
"And I didn't talk to any strangers," his daughter said.
Her story is one of the more harrowing transportation issues that happened on the first day of school, which usually has its bus problems, Geller said. Many of the problems stem from the district having a lot of wrong addresses that need to be updated, he said.
"We're doing better every day," he said, emphasizing that parents have to notify the district of new addresses.
It will take 30 days for bus routes to "stabilize," he said.
Collins understands first day's chaos but was "flabbergasted" that a driver might have knowingly dropped his daughter off at the wrong place.
Geller was unaware of the incident involving Collins' daughter and said that officials are looking into what happened. He said in general, drivers should radio to report students who were taken to the wrong place and work it out.
"Everybody has radio contact," he said, adding, "In this heat, you can't leave them."
District transportation problems started before Monday.
On Friday, Arbor View High School's football team arrived 10 minutes after their game was scheduled to start because of a late bus.
"We were about ready to throw them in our cars," coach Dan Barnson said.
A bus arrived an hour late to pick up a group of Lied Middle School students on Monday, said parent Danika Miller, who called the school, where officials were unaware of the problem.
"It's a big headache."
The district is working with 200 fewer buses than the 1,500 of last year because of budget cuts. But that's not causing problems, Geller said.
While some of those buses were assigned to transport elementary, middle and high school students last year, others just went to one school and weren't full, he said. Now, schools have been timed to end so all buses are filling their seats, not wasting any space.
Many changes are coming for the bus system. Geller said a new routing system is being put in place, combining what used to be many systems. The new system will use on-board GPS to make on-the-fly route adjustments a snap for bus drivers.
That also will simplify the more prevalent problem of transporting special education students, who are picked up at their homes, not designated stops. That applies to 5,600 students, such as the autistic son of Singa Rajah, who wasn't picked up Monday because the driver couldn't find his home.
After his daughter's Monday transportation woes, Collins thought his children's transportation problems were over. But on Tuesday, the bus that was supposed to take his son from Red Rock Elementary School to the YMCA never showed. Collins had to pick him up.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.