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February 01, 2002  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Judgment Call

A bus driver has been seriously injured in an unprovoked attack by a middle-school student. School district officials do not want any negative publicity and are urging the driver not to file criminal charges. They will, however, agree to terminate the student’s bus riding privileges. As the driver’s supervisor, what do you do? I would encourage the driver to take whatever action he/she feels necessary! Depending on the severity of the attack, I would even assist the employee in placing the charges. Luckily, in our system, the driver would receive support for such action. I would not look at such action as negative press. I would look at it as positive press. Most parents would support strong action for such aggression because they would want to make sure something similar does not happen to their child. It would set an example for all students that the system will not tolerate such actions. Michael Lunsford Transportation Director Loudoun County Schools Leesburg, Va. First of all, in our school district, school bus drivers are educators and are protected from assault by a school board policy that covers all employees. Students who physically assault an employee shall be suspended from the regular school program for at least one calendar year. As the transportation director, I would ensure that this policy is followed. As for filing criminal charges, that is a decision that must be made by the individual driver. Whatever that decision is, I would be supportive of it. Tom Taylor Transportation Director Williamson County Schools Franklin, Tenn. I would encourage the driver to file with the police department. The perceived negative publicity vs. the reality of the negative action of the child cannot be justified. In a case like this, it may turn out that the student has one or more of the following problems: a gang affiliation, a drug habit, a lack of supervision at home or a medical condition. In any one of these cases the child would be removed from the bus, but may not receive the help he/she requires in order to address the existing problem. A police report can result in some type of investigation that may uncover the student’s problem and establish some strategies for remediation. The bus suspension could result in the child not attending school and could potentially result in larger and more negative effects for the student and society as a whole. Augie Campbell Transportation Director Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools As a former driver, and now supervisor, I think I would have to press charges and let the chips fall where they may. The bus suspension is a school issue, but the assault is personal. This is a question that could fill volumes with no simple answer. Marty Hess Transportation Director Urbana (Ohio) School District

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