Bus Safety from a Bus Driver’s Perspective

Dear JCPS,

I have students that range from K-5th Grades I transport daily to and from school. At best, these students are on the bus approximately 45 minutes in the morning and approximately 1 hour in the evening, depending on traffic. It is my responsibility to safely transport all my students to and from school. I have students that refuse to sit down safely in their assigned seats, inappropriately touches other students, use foul language, eat and drink, breaks pencils and crayons and throws them at other students, throws food (most recently threw bags of carrots at other students), fight, speaks ill of other students family members to include making fun of other students less fortunate and cursing out the bus driver and being extremely disrespectful. One more thing on this note, they will fabricate lies against the bus driver and for that I am glad we have cameras. I have written approximately 150 disciplinary referrals so far this year. I have had a couple of suspensions for 1-3 days, however, I also have repeat offenders. I had one student this past week get suspended for 5 days, but, after 2 days, their suspension was lifted and allowed to return to my bus. Unfortunately, most of my students that get suspended from riding the bus, does not go to school. With all this said, my concern is for all students safety. The few that cause these problems are jeopardizing the safety of everyone on the school bus. It is just a matter of time when one of my students get hurt, then who will the blame fall on? Usually, it’s the bus driver. I have to keep one eye on my student mirror and the other eye on the road, which can become unsafe. We can only stop the bus for 5 minutes to address any discipline issues. In the winter months, it starts getting dark by 530PM. Needless to say, I have been extremely late dropping off my students because of discipline issues ( 630PM the latest time so far this year). I am making it very inconvenient for the majority of my students and their parents because of the actions of a few, which is not fair either. If the repeat offenders were held accountable, and go through the suspension process, and continue to be disruptive, then the parents or guardians need to be responsible for getting their child to and from school, no matter their personal difficulties doing so. If the student misses school in excess of the attendance policies, the parents are ultimately responsible and should be dealt with in accordance with the applicable laws concerning truancy. If expulsion from the school bus is not an option, then move that student to a closer school nearest to their home,as a hardship transfer. By far, my bus has less problems than most, but, the safety issue remains the same. How many referrals are too many? I had a member of my management team tell me, as we were speaking on the discipline problems of one of my students, ” That student only has had 3 referrals.” I honestly think more than one referral, you have an obvious problem. Let’s force the parents and guardians to get involved more. Children will only do what they are allowed to do and a piece of paper is not going to stop their disruptive behavior if they realize they are not being held accountable. There has been problems in the past in which the school can’t reach the parents, whether a disconnected phone number or the parent refusing to respond. 9 out of 10 times, I find copies of referrals that were sent home for a parents signature and to be returned to school, ripped up into pieces and thrown on the bus floor. Bottom line, the students are required by law to attend school. Having transportation should be considered a privilege, not a right. We need to get a hold of our students at the elementary level and not just pass the problem on to middle and then high school. As students get older, their behavior becomes more violent. Let us not continue to allow unsafe behavior to go unpunished. I don’t want to see any of my students get hurt or worse. We are JCPS and We have an established standard on school bus safety. Let’s start enforcing it and stop pointing fingers at everyone else. It’s our problem, let’s fix it!! Thank You for your time.

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