VIAN, Okla. — A school bus driver here is under investigation and may lose her job after being accused of giving a ride to a woman and her dog with students on board last week, KFSM reports.
Vian Public Schools Superintendent Victor Salcedo told the news source that at the time of the incident there were about 24 students on the bus, ranging from grades K through 12, and that the bus driver, Katie Chapman, dropped the woman, Terra Smith, and her dog off at Smith's home. Salcedo confirmed to KFSM that the school doesn’t believe that Smith had any contact with the students on the bus, and that picking up an unauthorized person while driving a school bus route is against school policy. He added that Chapman has worked for the district for seven years.
Chapman told the news source that a letter she received from the school district has a recommendation of termination from the school district’s superintendent because of the incident. The letter, obtained by KFSM, stated that on Sept. 12, Chapman was notified that a fugitive may have been at large in the area around a district bus stop. She asked if she could drop off some students at their homes instead of the stop out of concern for their safety, and was given permission by the transportation department to do so, according to the letter.
The letter also stated that as she was dropping off students, Chapman encountered Smith and her dog, and allowed them to ride on the bus without getting permission from the transportation department. The letter also pointed out that Chapman allowed Smith and her dog to ride on the bus’ stairs, which is “an area known to be unsafe — in violation of Oklahoma’s commercial driving guidelines.” A parent contacted the transportation department about the incident, and also expressed concern that students “were warned not to disclose the unauthorized passenger and her dog.”
Chapman was suspended without pay on Sept. 13, pending investigation, according to the letter. The letter informed her that she does have the right to a board hearing.
Chapman acknowledged to the news source that she broke school policy, but said that she gave Smith a ride because she “felt she was in danger” and that “there’s always an exception somewhere.” Chapman also said that Smith is a parent of several students who were riding her bus.
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