Management

Student's cell phone video didn't tell the whole story

James Blue
Posted on August 7, 2015

James Blue is general manager of School Bus Fleet.
James Blue is general manager of School Bus Fleet.
There are two sides to every story, and sometimes the first side you hear gives a misleading take on the story.

That proved to be the case recently when officials from an Edmonton, Alberta, school district initially called for a school bus driver’s firing but later recanted after learning more about what happened on the driver’s bus. The episode shows the importance of getting both sides of the story and not jumping to conclusions.

On May 25, events on the driver’s bus were recorded by two different cameras. The two recordings painted notably different pictures of the situation.

As we reported online in June, the first video of the incident was shot on the cell phone of a passenger at the back of the bus. It shows the driver throwing another student’s bag off of the bus and making him get off as well. Other passengers can be heard yelling in outrage. Then the camera turns to show the student standing at a corner as the bus pulls away.

After seeing that cell phone video, which was aired by news media, the Edmonton Catholic School District board called for the school bus driver to be terminated. The driver is an employee of contractor Cunningham Transport. According to CBC News, Cunningham refused to fire the driver but did take him off of the district’s routes.

Cunningham then provided a second video of the school bus incident to media outlets. That clip, taken by a dashcam that the driver had installed, put the driver’s actions into context.

In the dashcam video, the student who was later ejected from the bus can be seen apparently kicking and hitting a passenger in the seat across the aisle from him. Then another student walks to the front of the bus and hits the driver in the head with a large duffel bag before he disembarks.

As for the student who had apparently been kicking and hitting another passenger, a Cunningham manager said that he also threatened to throw his backpack at the driver, CBC News reported. On the dashcam video, the driver can be seen throwing that student’s backpack off of the bus and making him leave.

“The driver felt at the time that this was the safest location for the student in question, but also to ensure the safety of the students on board,” the Cunningham manager said in a written statement to CBC News.

After seeing the dashcam video, the Edmonton Catholic School District board changed its stance.

“In light of the second video showing an assault on the driver, we realize we should not have requested the driver’s termination,” district officials said in a statement, and they apologized to the driver and to Cunningham Transport. The troublemaking students were suspended.

Still, the district could have avoided embarrassment — for the school bus driver and for itself — by not passing judgment until after conducting a thorough investigation. Clearly, the bus passenger’s cell phone video, and the initial media coverage of it, didn’t tell the whole story.

Watch both videos of the bus incident at schoolbusfleet.com/EdmontonIncident.

Related Topics: behavior management, Canada

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