MINNEAPOLIS - Alberto Boyce began his first day of school as positive as a first grader could be.
His father Sean Boyce saw it first thing. "His eyes when he woke up in the morning were so bright and he said, 'Is it time for school yet papa?' And I said 'Yes son, it's time.'"
But when the buses boarded at Kenwood Elementary School for Alberto's trip home, "time" took on new meaning.
Eighteen minutes after Alberto was supposed to arrive at his bus stop at 10th Street and Portland Avenue, his father "got a little concerned."
Boyce dialed Minneapolis Public Schools, where an automated system placed him on hold.
"I'm wondering whether they got in an accident, I'm wondering if my son even got on the bus," said Boyce.
Still waiting, at 29 minutes, Boyce called Kenwood Elementary.
Getting no answer at the school, Boyce left a voicemail message, while he continued to hold for someone to answer his call at the school district.
Alberto's bus finally arrived, 39 minutes late.
Boyce's son told him the bus driver was lost. "The kids on the bus had to literally point out where they should go," Boyce said.
But rather than hang up with the school district, Boyce decided to continue to wait on hold. He showed KARE 11 the call duration on his cell phone: one hour and 51 minutes.
Boyce's conversation with a district representative at the end of his long hold, accounted for some of the call duration, but no more than five minutes, according to Boyce. Meaning his time on hold was more than 90 minutes.
"I'm typically a pretty calm person, but I have to admit my blood was starting to boil," Boyce said.
Stan Alleyne, Chief Communications Officer for MPS, offered an apology on behalf of the school district.
"The first day, it's an exciting day for students and for families and we want it to be a good experience," Alleyne said.
The MPS spokesperson went on to explain the district received 3,000 phone calls on the first day of school, at the very time it was expanding a new phone system routing all calls through a central system.
"As we refine our system, as people become more familiar, we think things will be better," said Alleyne.
As evidence, he cited second day average wait times of seven to 10 minutes, down from 20 to 25 minutes the day before.
For Sean Boyce, the improvements can't come soon enough. "I just don't want another parent to go through what I went through," Boyce said.
For the record, Alberto's second day at school was better. He arrived five minutes late to school, according to his father, but his bus arrived at the stop near his home right on time.