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July 15, 2010  |   Comments (9)   |   Post a comment

District responds to child-left-on-bus incident


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RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Public Schools will equip its buses with electronic child check devices for the 2010-11 school year after a child was left on a bus for about an hour earlier this month.

Superintendent Dr. Yvonne Brandon held a press conference Wednesday to announce her recommendation for the devices' installation, which she will propose for the school board's approval at its July 19 meeting.

The announcement comes in the wake of an incident in which a 5-year-old with autism was left on a bus for about an hour, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Another driver found the boy after hearing him cry. The boy was sent to the hospital and released after it was determined he was in good health. The child's bus driver and monitor were charged with felony child neglect and will appear in court next month.

"I wanted all parents to know that this is an isolated incident and does not reflect the level of professionalism we uphold in the district," Brandon said. "While the incident is still under investigation, swift and appropriate personnel actions were taken and additional safety sessions were conducted the next day."

Brandon added that her own daughter was left on a school bus she was seven years old, so Brandon said she understood parents' frustration and fear. "I am committed to ensuring that this does not happen to another child attending Richmond Public schools," she said. 

Twenty of the district's newer buses are currently equipped with the devices. District officials say installation on the remaining vehicles will cost about $30,000. Brandon noted that officials will work within the district's current budget to add the devices and that all drivers will be retrained on their use and checking for children and articles left behind in every seat at the end of the route.

Although some states require child check devices on school buses, Virginia does not.


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The video presentation was excellent, including most the dialog, in my opinion. Would preferred the event be presented a procedural issue, not a safety issue, and no mention of what "Could have happened." Could is not did. In disagreement with what seems the check will only occur at the depot. The bus ought to be checked at each school before proceeding. Same in the afternoon, checked at each school. On last runs pulling off in a safe place and checking prior to returning to the depot, a final check made at the depot. These activities and a functioning child-check device presents reasonable assurance that a sleeping child can be found. However, can not be guaranteed that would always be the outcome. By making a guarantee escapes opportunity to give mention that all children will also be instructed what to do in the event of waking up alone on the bus at some point in the future. Some dialog work now can produce a lot less to explain later when the next child is left sleeping on one of their school buses. The purpose of these sorts of gadgets is to help remind, similar to the alert that happens in some vehicles when the vehicle’s keys are about to be left behind. The driver, monitor or a mechanic tampering with the device ought to be grounds for immediate termination, and would myself accept it appropriate for the courts to also deal with individuals that engage in this sort of equipment abuse. Management must first do their part before expecting the help to do their part.

James Kraemer    |    Jul 18, 2010 03:13 AM

Continued - The result? Some 100,000 children left sleeping on the school buses over the past two decades. We seem these days to care enough to lynch but not enough to help prevent. A simple and inexpensive reminder device for drivers is also blatantly attacked by some, yet how many attack the cost of installing reminders such as a speedometer, or gas gauge and such, or even a simple device that alert's the keys are left in the vehicle. Not much protested from installing other helpful devices such as brakes, unless they are defective. The child check reminder device is a first step to actual preventive efforts required by plenty of school districts and also by law in some states. Every time a hostile provider opens their mouths in the press they reveal themselves to the potential workforce in their community. Under the current hostile conditions who in good conscious would want their beloved grandmother, other family member or their good friends behind the wheel of a school bus? How ridiculous is it within this industry to set up our fellows and ourselves by not remembering the vast majority of times this event happens to someone just like us. Not lazy, not dumb, no different than us, except that we are lazy in our own thinking and dumb by our own blindness to think it could not happen to any of us. A 30 year school bus monitor and a new substitute school bus driver missed a procedure and no harm to the child the result. No device was on board to help remind, but reasonable to believe that bus had the more expensive reminders, a speedometer and other reminder gadgets and helpers. Like any of us these two deserve a second chance and this profession's support for that to happen. Otherwise plenty of more serious missed events occur every day that supports within a short time that not a single bus driver in this industry belongs behind the wheel of a school bus. (jk)

James Kraemer    |    Jul 17, 2010 08:46 AM

A 60 year old women with 30-years experience, and also a new substitute school bus driver both missing a procedure during the same event provides a fascinating spectrum of work experience that ought to help alert us to know how vulnerable we all are to missing this procedure. No one I know of, not one that would imply he or she would never make this procedural error can I trust never will, nor trust these in general. Our families trained our kids what to do - "Stay put, don't leave the bus, yell if you see a staff member, or go ahead and honk the horn." It happened to one of my eighteen grandchildren on a bus with both a driver and monitor. My little fellow was a bit upset and we avoided escalating that temporary moment. Like so many not traumatized by adults overreacting he was ready to ride the bus the next morning without issue. That bus driver was more careful than most before him and still it happened. We did not call for a lynching, in fact, warned the provider that if the issue made it to the press that we would defend the driver and monitor in the press and also do so in a court setting if that happened. Never made it to the press - no vengeance acted out, no outrageous slandering and other outbursts toward the driver or the monitor. This issue has went from, "No harm - no foul" to "Leave a child - Leave Laidlaw" to currently, "Leave a Child - Go to Prison," and fines upto $500.00 in some states. Yet, not a single death can be found has occurred on an actual school bus as a result of this missed procedure. And also few providers using vans and cars as school buses and where deaths have actually occurred insure these vehicles are checked by someone other than the driver/monitor before parked. This issue is answered too often in the press with a hostile styled gambler's mentality presenting a reactive process after the fact, not an effective preventative process before the fact. The result? Some 100,000 children left sleeping on th

James Kraemer    |    Jul 17, 2010 08:44 AM

We have that check mate system in each and everyone of our busses...You need to make sure you enforce a policy to those drivers that if anyone pulls the fuse there will be consequences. In our terminal you will get fired. Also the check mate will not activate until you use your 8way light system.. ive seen drivers pick up kids (esp. when there were only a handful of stops) so they just pull to curbside and pick up with no lights. So now youve got children on your bus, you drop off ,and your done so now that checkmate system is useless. You did not activate it so now you walk off your bus and head home. No check was done. And surprise... Now you dont have a job because you didnt check. Ive been with my company for many years now and drivers still have gotten fired with all the things in place. Our newest in addition to the child check mate is in our pre-trip book. We have to do a post-trip and record it. part of the post-trip once again is the child check along with a yellow magnetic placard we must place in the back window. all this is useless if the driver doesnt apply them.

jo    |    Jul 16, 2010 02:42 PM

No matter what device or training you give a driver...it is up to that individual to use the tools they are taught..

jo    |    Jul 16, 2010 01:13 PM

"A child is NOT a Lunch Box" to be left on the bus. In NH you will lose you school bus endorsement forever if you leave a child on a bus.

Daniel    |    Jul 16, 2010 12:41 PM

Save the 30 grand and start hireing professionals. Impliment proceedures that all drivers must follow and supervise employees. You can send me check or cash for the 30,000 ...What a joke!!!! Here at SUSD we know our routes our students, our parents, our stops oh and yea, we check our seats.

Steve    |    Jul 16, 2010 10:26 AM

Why do we have to resort to an electronic child check device in order to prevent a child left on a bus. Come on drivers this is our job to check every seat and on the floor every time we have unloaded our students. I also believe Monitors & Attendants should be checking that bus as soon as the last student departed the bus. Your job is not to just sit on the bus and ride around. What would happen in an emergency? I believe in the child check devices which we have had in the Avon & Pittsford Schools for over 6 years. This should be standard on all school buses, the same as seat belts. As a fellow School Bus Driver, we must treat every child as our own and making sure that all of our children are not left on the bus! I thank God this young boy was okay, and thanks to the Driver who found him.

Robin    |    Jul 16, 2010 06:36 AM

a good reporting systems would do the same thing for no cost. just have the drivers do a walk through and radio in and report to dispatch every time they finish a route and head back to base.We use this method and have never left a child on a bus.Report walk through complete and bus is clear.

Dan Smith    |    Jul 16, 2010 05:48 AM

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