DS was left on school bus

Momma_Bird_OHJanuary 30, 2003

Last Thursday my 8 y.o., 2nd grade DS was left on the bus. The bus runs its route in the morning and then drops off about 1/3 of the kids at his school, then goes to another elementary school and drops off the remaining kids. The bus driver has a "reward system". If you behave well, you get to get off first. He calls off the kids by name to get off. Last Thursday, the driver didn't call his name. He didn't know what to do - he thought he was "in trouble" and had to stay on the bus. When the bus was cleared at the other school and the driver discoverd that DS was still on the bus, the driver yelled at DS and told him he wasn't paying attention and it was his fault. The driver took DS back to his school and took him to the assistant principle. The A.P. also made DS feel it was all his fault.

DS' teacher called me Thursday evening to tell me about it all. The A.P. had not called us, nor had the driver or transporation department. DS had not told us. When I got off the phone with the teacher, I asked DS why he didn't tell us and he started crying and said he was in big trouble. His teacher said she spent the whole day telling him he is not in trouble, but that he was very quiet all day and it "broke her heart".

I am, to say the least, very upset. I called the transportation department on Friday and gave a full report. The low-level person I spoke with said "we'll look into it." I also called the A.P., who was very vauge, evasive, and noncommittal.

Monday I called the transportaion department and got the director's name. I used Ben Dover's "Six Rules of Effective Complaining" and wrote a detailed, unemotional, professional letter. I mailed it on Monday and asked that she call me by Friday.

I am just so upset. I feel like I've done all I can do short of calling the newspaper or TV news. I talked to a friend that has a 5th grader at the school, so she's been dealing with the system longer than me. She said "good luck, nothing will change and they will keep putting you off." DS' teacher is 100% behind us, she feels the district is treating this WAY to lightly. BUT, I don't want to get her too deeply involved and perhaps jeapordize her job. I feel like my fight is with the trasportation department.

Let me also say, I went to a tiny school district with maybe 1000 kids total K-12. In my son's district, there are more kids then in the town where I grew up! I feel like I'm dealing with a big, bloated bureuacratic nightmare.

What I said in my letter is that I want the kids separated by school, with the kids getting off at the first school seated in the front of the bus. I also said that I want the driver to do a walk-through of the bus before he leaves the second school. If DS had fallen asleep and fallen over in the seat, he could have been left on the bus all day, and it was 15 degrees that day. He would have frozen to death in his sleep! I stopped short of saying that I wanted the driver fired or reassigned to a single-school route, even though that's what I really wanted to say. I also said I wanted the transportation director to call by Friday.

Do any of you have ideas - what can I do next, other than calling her on Friday if she doesn't call? I am so angry and upset, and I really do want the driver off that route because DS is now afraid of him. Thanks in advance for your help!

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Wow! That sends shivers up my spine just thinking about it! I'm glad he wasn't left on the bus, though.

If you don't hear something by Friday, I would contact the superindendent of schools and/or school board about what happened.

I think the reason you're getting the brush off treatment is because of the LIABILITY issues involved. Their backsides are hanging out & they know it.

Can you take your son to school for a while in the morning?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 10:50AM
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I don't think you should contact the media because it might just single you/your son out for picking on.

But you should go ahead and notify the school board or superintendent. Even without your DS's incident, the way the route is being handled is VERY susceptible to 'losing track' of the kids.

I feel for you and pray it never happens to my DD!

(I can just see my DD feeling like your son did --- that it was something he did wrong. I hope you and his teacher have made him realize that he was the victim here).

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 12:32PM
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I think you should not try to come up with a solution, but you should complain to the head of transportation and to the superintendent in writing. Name the driver and the route. My school district is large, and I do assure you that we would be working on this if it happened. Education is a people industry, and when you have people, you have the possibility of errors, mistakes, and outright sloppiness.

There should be a walk through the bus procedure for drivers, but that is probably already in their procedure manual. Your job is to bring the problem to their attention, and to their boss's attention, explain it, and ask for a solution and express expectations that this will not happen again.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2003 at 12:22AM
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Sheilajoyce, the reason I offered a solution is that Ben Dover recommends in his "6 Rules For Effective Complaining" that you offer what you want as the solution. That doesn't mean they have to do what you want.

When I got home Friday, there was a message on my machine from the director of transportation. She said she would be out Monday but will call me on Tuesday. I am eager to see what she has to say.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2003 at 9:37AM
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I realized I never posted the resolution. I had a nice phone conversation with the director of transportation. She was VERY appolgetic (sp?) and made me feel she understood the gravity of the situtation. She said that she had personally talked to the driver, and that together they set up procedures to make sure all of the kids at DS's school get off at the right place every day. This includes: All the kids at his school now are assigned seats in the front half of the bus; the driver checks to make sure all of these seats are empty before leaving that school; the driver does a walk-through of the bus before leaving the second school.

I am satisfied with the outcome and feel that my boys will be safe on the bus from now on.

It does pay to complain!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2003 at 1:29PM
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I realize that this has been resolved but thought I'd comment for some that may read it at a later date.

I have driven school bus. Bus drivers have a really tough job, believe me. I've worked with teachers that have driven after retirement and they said they couldn't believe what a difficult job it is.

That being said, It is not uncommon for a child to fall asleep on a bus, and sometimes they forget to get off. It happens. We were required to check our bus before leaving it between routes, and at the end of the day for sleepers. It was an immediate termination for any driver that left the bus with a child on board. No excuses, or questions asked you were gone, as it should be. It was also suggested that we take a couple minutes between schools to check for belonging or children left on the bus. Your sons situation is why.

I'm glad you got your call and it was worked out to your satisfaction.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2003 at 3:17AM
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I too am a bus driver and I am glad that the situation was resolved. I have had children forget to get off the bus, but I have never made them feel like it was their fault. I have stopped at their house and when noone got up moved on, only to have the child realize..That was my Stop!
At the end of the route, we are required to walk the bus to make sure everyone got off at school and then again in the afternoon to make sure no one is sleeping. I usually have the last child on my route and the last child getting off the bus at school check for sleeping children. I always follow up with my own walk-thru after each. It does pay to take that few extra minutes, I know because I found a child sleeping on afternoon and had to call my boss to come to my bus because I couldn't get the child awake.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2003 at 6:04PM
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