Even from his contracting job in Iraq, Lee Hamlet couldn’t bear the problems his daughter and other Quail Run School students faced trying to get to school this year.
Budget cuts forced the Lawrence school district to cease bus service this year for students who live within 2.5 miles of their school, and parents at some schools have paid school bus contractor First Student to keep certain routes running.
When several parents in the northwestern Lawrence neighborhood were unable to put funds together for their own bus, Hamlet — from his post in Basra — agreed to put down $1,750 for a First Student bus with plans to put down more money later for the second semester.
“It was astonishing,” said Julie Heatwole, a Quail Run school counselor. “Here is a gentleman serving our country far away, and he wants to do this not only for his daughter but also for his neighborhood community.”
Beginning this morning, the new bus route will pick up 15 students who live in the area near Sixth and Eldridge streets.
Hamlet’s wife, Susan Hamlet, said some families have run into transportation issues during the initial weeks of school without the bus.
She said because of medical reasons, she has been unable to drive her second-grade daughter, Freedom Coffey-Hamlet, to school.
Other parents have also had to find rides for their children because they don’t have their own vehicles. From Sixth and Eldridge streets, it’s about 1.6 miles to Quail Run, 1130 Inverness Drive.
Jaime Carter, who has three children at the school, said they would also have to cross busy Sixth Street if they walked.
“I’m grateful that that man did that,” Carter said.
Heatwole said many students have been riding bicycles or walking, which will not be an option during inclement weather.
Truancy and tardiness have also been a concern for the school this year as some parents have to depend on unreliable modes of transportation, she said.
“This way there will be consistency. It will be safe. They will be able to have transportation on a daily basis,” she said.
Susan Hamlet said her husband has worked two years and three months as a contractor in Iraq.
“He felt like it was the right thing to do. He thought about all of the things he could do for his family,” she said.