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Students at mobile home park OK with school bus seating changes

DETROIT LAKES -- In January, Detroit Lakes Public School administrators and parent Vickie Rudolph squared off over a seating policy on a school bus that served Riverview Terrace Estates, a mobile home park in Detroit Lakes.

Rudolph said the seating policy, which required students from the mobile home park to sit in the front three rows of the bus, was discriminatory and targeted the students for taunting by their classmates.

School superintendent Doug Froke said the bus contractor, Olander Bus Service, would end the reserved seating policy for the mobile home park students after notifying parents of the change.

So how are things now?

Froke said the students are no longer required to sit in the front rows of the bus.

Carol Olander, of Olander Bus Service, said students are not assigned specific seats, unless it is done by school administration, such as a principal. She said there is a general seating arrangement on the bus, for safety reasons, that has younger students sitting close to the front of the bus and older students at the back.

Rudolph says she is not happy with the way the bus changes have been handled and has hired an attorney, who has not authorized her to comment at this point.

Sue Nolan, mother of four and resident of Riverview Terrace Estates, said she has no problem with younger students sitting close to the front of the bus and older students at the back. She had a similar seating arrangement on her bus when she was growing up in Detroit Lakes.

She said she rode the bus (Bus 22) for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

"They only ride for 10 minutes," Nolan said of her children's bus trip.

Sixteen-year-old Lucas Rader, a tenth-grade student, said the bus ride is only for a couple of minutes. He can sit where he wants in the back of the bus, but the short ride isn't that big of a deal.

"If the back's full, I'll sit in the front," he said.