Twenty-Twelve - ‘The Year of The Whistleblower in the School Bus Industry?

The end of Twenty-Twelve brings with it the press looking back on the year,  a time when schools and the school bus industry highlight and provide the press with the excellent and positive events that happened this passing year.

There are a lot of good things happening in schools and concerning the school bus industry that will be highlighted and provided the press covering positive school bus related events in Twenty-Twelve.

The school buses continue to be the most successful carpool in America. The school buses ease a variety of city street issues and strained community resources. Properly designed traffic models and the school buses help keep streets near schools less congested and parking areas far less jammed up with parents waiting to drop off or pick up their children.

During routes the school buses that follow 'share the road' models, board and drop doorside out of the main traffic flow at the side of the street when possible, enforce parent managed supervision at bus stops, and riders using safe crossing practices create the safest possible bus stop environments.

The school buses ease parents resources, and the bus makes a most convenient and often a safer travel method to and from school.

According to the Kansas State Department of Education's forthcoming national report released in early December, 6 of 9 school bus danger zone deaths were by other vehicles.

The report covers to and from school only, and does not include the hundreds injured and those maimed but not killed at the bus stop, nor does the report include children killed at the bus stop when their school bus is not present. Regardless, this change within the terms of the statistics collected presents Twenty-Twelve school bus stop deaths in a more positive light, since in most years the school bus killed more kids at the bus stop than killed by all other motorists combined.   

This article will now somewhat deviate from the norm, at look at the less positive side at what is happened at some schools and is happening in the school bus industry. Highlighted here are the fails -- failing programs, conflicting and sometimes hostile discipline policies, maltreated school bus drivers, children neglected, an industry on the edge.

Reducing or ending services in many areas of the country this year did not necessarily bring the savings to the communities some schools claimed would happen, nor have school boards stopped what seems an escalation of violence on many of our nation’s school buses. The nationwide school bus driver shortage has not ended.

Each passing month in Twenty-Twelve seemed a bit more violent on the buses than the previous month at too many of our nation’s schools. Twenty-Twelve saw an escalation of violence in our nation's schools and on our nation’s school buses like never before. Bullying continued to be acted out in defiance of new laws and expensive government funded stop-bullying programs, to the point that suicide is now the number one accident among teenagers.

Bureaucracies seem too often to end up causing more of what they claim not wanted in our schools, and seem to throw too much money at failing programs while letting the successful ones starve for funds.

Twenty-Twelve will be remembered a violent and shocking year until the next worst school event happens. Twenty children dead and six adults, including a deranged mass murderer, rang the bell for the year's violent conclusion in too many of our public schools.

Big Press Fail
Although this event is not related to the school buses, a chronic malbehavior from too many of the press networks is related.

David Zurawik has been The Baltimore Sun's TV critic since 1989. Within hours of the Newtown, Connecticut, Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder national coverage he asked, “Why does the basic tenet of getting facts right seems beyond us these days?” For several hours, the press was reporting the Gunman identified in the elementary school mass murder was 24-year-old Ryan Lanza of Hoboken, New Jersey. The mass murderer was actually Ryan’s younger brother, 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

In Australia and based on U.S. reports, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, “The gunman, found dead at the scene, was identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who killed his father at home before driving to the school and killing his mother.” None of this was true, except they did get the killer's correct name at that point in the reporting.

Again, it’s big, this time big media seems leading the way to corrupting the press. Big media demonstrated a failure of traditional press values: Waiting until confirming the facts, replaced by the modern mob attracting and moneymaking version: Getting the story published first and worry about the facts later. ~ various

Reactions designed to sensationalize and aggravate emotion from the public to support some special interest agenda rampages after events like at Sandy Hook Elementary. These promotions often provide the extremes to measure while looking for a remedy. Murderous, sick and deranged kids, and adults can often bring to the limelight the derangement of our nation, as much or more so than a mass murderer’s own derangement.

So often, there are red flags warning of a disaster approaching, and so often there are plenty otherwise sensible people in denial. There is no easy answer here, no simple ‘one-size-fits all’ remedy. But there is a remedy that can contain the uncivil, essentially when the civil take charge early on and engage in protecting the civil  from the uncivil: When red flags are sending alerts to do something now. Intervening in bullying is an essential early alert.

Perhaps triggered by the Karen Klein event, the year seems to have provoked many in our nation to whistleblow on schools that seem to be doing more harm than good, including doing significant harm to the safest travel to and from school for children.

The later part of Twenty-Twelve seems worse at some school districts. Some stories must have been made-up or so it seems, so outrageous are some of the reports that happened this passing year. And perhaps some were. Here are a few the highlights since the beginning Twenty-Twelve school year...

Perhaps the strangest story related specific to the school buses happened in December, depending how the story is perceived. This story involved a school district that attempted to discount the life value in the 2011 death of a handicapped child. Two employees on one of their school buses gave no attention to a child while transporting, to the point the child died. Some may have perceived the school district attorney’s concept as a bit too close to Old Nazi Germany’s remedy for the handicapped. An Orange County, California jury apparently was not ready to accept the district’s defense and awarded $10,000,000 (ten million) in the wrongful death case. ~ Business Wire  Report

Could this school bus driver be thinking, ‘Bite me lady’?
In Texas a dog bolted on a school bus and began biting the legs of a specific girl in the back of the bus. The school bus driver went to the back of the bus and pulled the dog off the girl. The parent said she is disappointed that nobody came to her daughter's aid sooner and she wants to know why the school bus driver continued his route 20 minutes to the school. Apparently the dog bites were relatively minor, the dog is to be euthanized because no one will claim it, and the mother won’t allow her daughter to be tested for rabies. ~ KPRC Click 2 Report

Again in Texas, a school bus driver for eight years lost his job over allegations that he had assaulted a 9-year-old boy. The two siblings were verbally fighting as the driver pulled up in front of their house. The mother said her son hit his head on the side of the bus and started screaming and crying. When her son asked the bus driver why he was doing that, she said the bus driver responded, "I can. I do it all the time." ~ NBC News Report

A school bus driver was expected to transport this child?
In Georgia A 9-year-old girl mooned her school bus driver and generally behaved so badly the driver had to pull over and call authorities. According to the Athens Banner-Herald the police put the child In the back of his patrol car, the officer said the girl repeatedly kicked the glass divider. He had to call for back up so someone could bring him a device to restrain her legs, according to the report. Also, the officer said he had to put a hood on the girl to stop her spitting at police. ~ Athens Banner-Herald Report

In Tennessee, a fired school bus driver blew the whistle on the school board’s ‘one-size fits all’ policy making. "I was having disciplinary problems with a student and we have the right to assign them seats. And I was moving her to another seat. She kept telling me 'No, No' she wasn't going to move and she started throwing a tantrum." Stone doesn't deny touching the girl, but feels it was not assault. "I placed my hand on her arm and her shoulder to coax her out of the seat and she just threw herself across the aisle into another seat. Then, I put my hands under her arms to pull her up to get control of the situation, to get my bus rolling again." ~ WTVC Report

In Galesburg, Michigan Transportation supervisor Heidi Mullin contacted News 8 to request an interview about what she called one of the worst encounters she has ever experienced with students riding a school bus. She said she wanted to clear the air and give a clearer picture of what really happened. Things had been so bad on Galesburg-August school bus No. 20 that Mullins was asked to ride along. She aimed to document just how bad the bus was getting in order to get school officials to respond. When she began to sit with one out of control child, she said the child attempted to choke her. She pushed the child into the bus wall, sparking a hailstorm response that she never expected. She was picketed, fired, and the video of a tiny portion of the incident that made her look like the aggressor played repeatedly on television, Mullin said.  "Kind of felt like I was tried and convicted and found guilty before anybody ever even asked me what happened," she said. ~ WOOD TV 8 Report

When toys are outlawed, only outlaws will have toys ~ norinco
An event in Pennsylvania, involved 73 year old Ronald W. Jones who before his route would entertain the preschool children that rode on the buses with their parents, who are also bus drivers for Dauphin County Technical School. When it was time for his 2:50 p.m. bus route the 73-year-old father, grandfather, and great-grandfather stowed a broken toy gun under his driver seat and turned his mind to getting students home. A student reported the toy gun. Police called to the scene allowed Jones to retrieve the toy from his bus. Although technically no actual law had been broken, for the sake of a ‘one-size fits all’ policy ended his job at Rohrer Bus Co. ~ The Patriot-News Report

In Las Vegas, Nevada a 31-year-old mother of six is facing charges of child neglect after her 6-year-old son was hit by a school bus. The parent was charged with two counts of child neglect for failing to accompany the boy and his sibling to the bus stop. ~ KTNV NEWS Report

For those of you that have been following the School Bus News Timeline at my Facebook page, you may recall a Woodland, Washington School District bus driver fired in October for refusing to follow a district policy where she boarded a student. District officials argued that Washburn's alternative bus stop was less safe than the spot administrators had chosen. She disagreed and is trying to get her job back. ~ The Columbian Report

Search for gun fail
Back to Texas, a North Shore Senior High School student was searched, handcuffed behind his back, and placed in the back of a patrol car but apparently still had a gun. While in the car, the student retrieved the hidden gun and shot himself in the head. The incident began when police were called to the school to investigate a report of a student with a firearm. ~ AP Report

And back to Georgia, a court case concluded in December when a 38-year-old woman chose to wear a sign at a school bus stop proclaiming "I made a fool out of myself on a Bibb County Public Schools bus" instead of spending four weekends in jail. She also must help wash a bus, serve five years on probation and pay $500 in attorney fees. According to the prosecutor, the woman had went onto a school bus earlier this year and repeatedly struck her 11-year-old cousin and pulled the girl’s hair. ~ WABC Report

Before the Georgia incident, a Cleveland, Ohio a woman in November put at risk every day that she drove on a sidewalk past the front doors of a day care center to avoid stopping for a school bus. The bus driver captured the act on video and gave the video to police. The woman was ordered by a Cleveland Municipal Court judge to stand near the bus stop with a sign that read: "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus." Her license was suspended for 30 days and ordered to pay a $250 fine for failing to stop for a school bus and using a sidewalk to pass the bus. ~ ABC News Report  ~ The School Bus

And in Broadview Heights, Ohio, A second Cleveland-area motorist was cited for driving on a sidewalk to go around a stopped school bus. ~ FOX 8 Report

Six middle school age students who allegedly assaulted a Richmond, Virginia school bus driver in December have been arrested and charged, according to the Richmond Police Department. The unidentified students face felony aggravated assault and assault by mob charges, police said. One employee, who did not want to be identified, says there is a lack of support by some school principals when it comes to disciplining students. "They put them right back on the bus the same day," the employee said. ~ NBC News Report

Bullying seems alive and in the charge of uncivil school bus environments
Struggling to take back charge from a bully, a civil behaving mother of a bully's target whilstleblew to FOX5 about an attack that happened just as her daughter got off the school bus. ~ KVVU 5 Report

In a separate bullying incident, the mother of a kid that bullied a student brings an apology from a civil parent. ~ KVVU 5 Report 

Photo: WLOX

 Never too old to beat someone up?
Similar to hostile children and some parents malbehavior toward school bus drivers and riders happened in a Pacolet, South Carolina store cashier’s line. A women asked for some space to enter her pin number. Two women that were a bit too close in line became aggressive. 80-year-old Mary Wannamaker and 63-year-old Myrtle Smith followed the victim to the parking lot where they began beating the victim on the head with gallon jugs of windshield wiper fluid. Two construction workers on the street saw the fight and intervened. "They threatened to shoot me in the head if they would have had their gun," the victim said. ~ WLOX 13 Report

Guess this teacher did not use the ‘F’ word
A Nova Scotia a teacher convicted of committing indecent acts and regardless of little or no public support is one step closer to getting his job back, along with a school board back pay contribution that could total $150,000. Meanwhile a Nova Scotia school bus driver that sweared at students to break up a fight is struggling by while attempting to get her job back. A donation campaign has raised [$332.00] in contributions to help the bus driver’s family make it through Christmas.  ~ CBC News (Canada)
~ STOCK Transportation - Give Heather Vidito her job back! (Interesting those that could only afford a small donation ($5-$20), together donated the most toward that school bus driver’s needs.
~ GoFundMe - Help Heather Vidito for Christmas 

The former president and CEO of Carpenter Bus Manufacturing Co. Indianapolis, was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. By the time the scheme was uncovered Durham bilked more than $200 million from 5,000 investors. In handing down the sentence, Judge Jane Magnus Stinson said she found "no sincere remorse" and described the case as one of deceit, greed and arrogance. ~ STN News Report

In Bensalem, Pennsylvania,  the lead mechanic and shop foreman at a school bus garage was arrested  last summer for stealing some $400k in parts, including stole truck tires, truck batteries and other automobile accessories over a period of more than 10 years. ~ ABC NEWS 6 Report

No word on employers that are pilfering their school bus drivers time by not paying them for the actual hours they work, costing tax revenue losses in the millions. This has become a chronic problem at more workplaces as transportation providers try to maintain the bids they agreed to with schools, or districts attempting to save money on the backs of their bus drivers. ~ Guest Blog by Leonard T. Jernigan, Jr.

How a school district can save money and hurt everyone else
The rest of the world is eager to find the resources to meet our standards of safe, efficient travel for school children. They are building new school-busing systems while it seems that too many schools in our nation are seriously curtailing, some even ending their school busing systems. ~ various

Some school boards weed out the more assertive no-nonsense styled bus drivers until what can eventually remain are mostly people that just drive the bus and monitors that just ride along. It can reach a point where these bus drivers and monitors ignore most everything happening behind them and do little to nothing to intervene. These employees can not really be faulted for the bad decisions their school boards and administrations made.

Twenty-Twelve had no shortage of scapegoats
Hundreds of other stories since the beginning of this school year, and hundreds more for the Twenty-Twelve calendar year cover kids left sleeping on the bus, sexual assaults, kids dropped at the wrong bus stop, drugs, alcohol violations, poor bus maintenance, cutting or eliminating school bus services, scapegoating school bus drivers and monitors, school bus related injuries and deaths, and on and on are available on 2safeschools Facebook Timeline page.

These stories help demonstrate how passive school bus drivers, and monitors like Karen Klein’s style are cultivated in this industry. All administrations cultivate the style they want behind the wheel of their school buses. When something goes wrong the deceptive express astonishment (astonished that they’ve been caught, in my opinion), and proceed to criticize their own harvest and move quickly to find a scapegoat to take the fall.

While our federal and state legislators have required stop-bullying policies in our schools, not a single state in our nation has a statute to protect the workplace from adults bullying adults. According to Dr. Gary Namie, workplace bullying is a national epidemic. This malbehavior among staff directly affects children in our schools. ~ 

'One Size Fits All' policy making hurt the civil
Zero Tolerance policies in public schools is an adapted version of the draconian concept (ancient Greek law eventually abandoned), that ought not been allowed in our public schools. There must be some level of rational options for the civil in this country to prevail.

Twenty-Twelve seems wrapping up as the year of the whistleblower
Often to the annoyance of school officials, in Twenty-Twelve the cell phone camera became one of the whistleblower’s best tools. Whistleblowing school employees, civil kids, and parents with cameras are helping to prove the violence that is happening on too many school buses, but not enough proof has motivated some schools to bring change where these changes are most needed. Arrogant children are helping to intervene in bullying nearly as much when they unwittingly post their bullying videos on the Internet.

We can hope these new efforts by adults and children can help stop the violence, neglect, and maltreatment on the school buses and can bring change for the better in Twenty-Thirteen, an essential and necessary change that too many school boards and industry experts failed to bring in Twenty-Twelve.

By this time of year, there ought to be no out of control school bus environments
School officials that have issues on their school buses this late in the school year typically make the same mistakes. More about that issue at this link.

(This article may be updated as needed.)
  • Schedule, benefits attract school bus drivers to the job - It isn't a revolving-door job. Transportation officials with all three Treasure Coast school districts say they typically have no difficulty recruiting drivers and hardly ever have to replace or fire drivers for any reason. Full-time positions are filled by hiring substitute drivers, who want the full-time benefits.

1 comment:

  1. the manager at my terminal talks about safety however when a driver recently was spotted with sports equipment blocking the rear emergency exit she was not repremanded because she is the union steward another driver with a fully loaded bus dropping off students at a amusement park hit a fence/gate did not stop dropped off passengers drove back to terminal never filed an accident report over 2000 damage to bus manager knows about it and coverd it up so she would not look bad its to bad a child will have to get injured or killed before she is removed


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