Snap-Shot: Reconditioning the school bus environment

School Bus Safety Week: October 22-26, 2012
This Year’s Theme: “I See the Driver. The Driver Sees Me!”

Actual nearly loaded k-8 school bus travelling
45-50mph, sound pressure from rear area toward
middle area: 76-84dBa. Original 90's dBa. 
 A perception exists that everyone’s rights must be respected. What actually happens in a hostile environment is that the rights of the civil eventually can end up disrespected, while the rights of the uncivil are protected.

I learned a possible answer from a classroom teacher explaining this issue when I was a young schoolboy. As best I remember the story...

A British colonel was charged with the responsibility to end the practice of cannibalism in an area of occupied Africa. When he instructed his solders to post notices prohibiting the practice tribe leaders complained that he was interfering with their tradition, implied as some sort of right.

The colonel responded, "I support your right to practice cannibalism, and hope you support Britain’s right to put to death anyone practicing cannibalism. Please feel free to practice your tradition, and I shall feel free to practice the Crown's tradition."

Bullying is not new, nor are some of the basic remedies. Someone bigger standing up to the bully was demonstrated on TV shows in earlier days. In a Gunsmoke clip, "The Killer," chivalry is demonstrated.

A cowardly bully comes to Dodge and his antics provoke a unusually dark side from Matt Dillon. Matt's frustration comes to a boil when Miss Kitty becomes a target of the bully's harassment. The Marshal does what some stop bullying programs teach to do these days - stand up to the bully.

A risk involved with this approach is the potential for the violence to escalate. In the clip, "The Killer" Act 3, the Marshal remedies the bully's killing with his own remedy, something a few targets may do these days when a bully persists and the school has failed to intervene in the bullying.

It is the responsibility of the civil to intervene before killing becomes the remedy.  Full Episode, "The Killer." (Gunsmoke TV Series 1955–1975) 

There ought to be a way for the civil to apply interventions that work without actually killing the worst behaved kids.

What often happens when a bus monitor/assistant is assigned to a school bus is that the training proceeds to mimic the bus driver’s previous student management practices, which did not work to secure the bus environment. Obvious that these sort of redundant practices can bring the same results.

The actual issue involved can be the same from bus to bus – the uncivil have taken charge of the bus environment.

There are civil parents that rightfully complain, even sue when their child is badly treated, such as when their child is repeatedly bullied, or sexually abused by a student, several students, or the bus driver.

Too often the civil are overshadowed by the uncivil and otherwise hostile parents and special self-interests that tread over or ignore the rights of the civil, give little accurate consideration to what a safe bus environment actually involves, begin asserting demands claiming some sort of so-called right for the uncivil or on behalf of, demand the school or district compromise the bus driver's authority, otherwise distract away from safety on the bus, and sometimes demand the offending driver removed from the route or fired. It is not beyond these uncivil sorts to sometimes threaten, even to sue.

When school bus drivers are treated what some drivers refer to as 'second-class employees', kids in turn tend to pick-up on that adult to adult disrespect and may use it against each other and the adults involved.

Without civil adults involved to help assert the rights of the civil to experience safe, calm environments free of violence at the bus stop and when riding the school bus, the typical dysfunctional school and management styles tend to take the least path of resistance -- blame the bus driver without good cause.

These that ignore, disrespect, or otherwise act disinterested toward the civil have nothing reminiscent of good values and decency available to pass forward to their bus drivers and that would help their bus drivers keep kids safe.

Frustration affects performance, can cause violence, turnover, and a bad employer reputation can spread like wildfire. Potential candidates shy away from such employers. This effect can hurt recruiting candidates even at what might be civil employer workplaces. Because communities associate events related to the school buses somewhat separate from the specific employer involved, it can take years to undo the damage one bad employer in the local area can cause other school bus transportation employers.

It is not always who you are, but the company you keep that can affect an employer's reputation.

Some communities school districts are more respectful toward the civil, can seem almost like a sanctuary from the uncivilly so common in public schools these days. These management styles treat their bus drivers like educators. School officials and staff at these district's tend to support the rights of the civil to a safe, calm school bus stop and while riding the bus, and support the bus driver's right to a safe, hostile free workplace. This does not mean these ignore the rights of the uncivil.

Oftentimes a disruptive concept coming from an uncivil child can be put in to a more positive concept that can rather abruptly turn the table on the unruly. Surprise can be a good teacher when put to work helping keep kids safe.

What can be a remedy in a politically correct environment for an uncivil, defiant child that refuses to follow directions and tosses about his or her so-called rights is oftentimes the same.

Defend that child's right not to ride the bus. Help him (or her) through it, praise his independence while he is escorted off the bus and to the school office.

We struggle when we ought to be truly loving our work, and working together to confront the uncivil.

For what reason would anyone want to force a child to wear a seat belt, force to stay out of the aisle, force to sit a certain way, force to use a certain level of voice sound level, and so on. We are not hostage takers.

These days apparently children have a right to act out any way they want, according to some, so why fight that? Why struggle? The stress involved can hurt your health, can put you in an early grave.

Go Green! Simply focus on protecting the bus environment from the unruly, and protect the uncivil child's right not to ride the bus.

To calm a school bus environment requires that both civil kids and civil adults together must accept the responsibility for the current ‘dangerous condition’ on their school buses, steal back charge of the bus environment from the uncivil, and keep that charge within the domain of the civil.

An option that can help calm a school bus is to retrain some of the monitors, retired bus drivers, teachers, and/or volunteers to be trained as school bus safely ombudsman. When an unruly bunch overwhelm the bus driver's authority the safety ombudsman is sent to ride that bus.

The duties of the school bus safety ombudsman include helping the bus driver recondition the bus environment. This can involve:
  • School officials Informing parents and the press concerning the duties of the school bus safety ombudsman.
  • Doing some research concerning the affected bus. Examine previous bus citations and remedies applied. Note feedback from the school, management, the driver, kids and parents (if any).
  • Situating an affected bus so other buses can go around, or in a alternative safe boarding/departing area out of the path of the other buses boarding and departing area.
  • Studying the bus environment and bus stop conditions and events.
  • Identifying and/or confirming the riders with the bus driver that demonstrate defiance and other hostile conduct on the bus and/or at the bus stop.
  • Backing up the bus driver’s authority to have escorted from the bus any rider refusing to follow his or her directions.
  • Maintaining daily documentation and producing weekly reports to transportation management and to the school.

This written policy from an actual public school may help support the issues any school is attempting to remedy on the school buses. Excerpt from policy:

Behaviors that May Result in Suspension or Expulsion

Any actions that clearly have a serious negative impact upon the learning environment of the school and/or are forbidden by state law will be considered serious issues on the behavior ladder. All of the following behaviors are forbidden by state law and/or district policy. Students are sent to one of the principals immediately with a discipline referral form who:
  • Blatantly or continually exhibit disruptive behavior despite warnings and/or SR/detention referrals.
  • Openly defy any school adult’s authority/direction or are otherwise willfully disobedient.
  • Use profane or obscene language or gestures.
  • Threaten, intimidate, or take any action, which could result in the bodily harm of another or self. This includes fighting on school grounds, off school grounds at any school activity, function or event.

Immediate change in environment for an offending student is a quality response that protects the bus environment form becoming a hostile place for both civil children and civil adult staff.

The school bus ombudsman completes daily reports, which are copied to the relevant officials as determined by written policy. The reports often can include all sorts of details, including sound-level reports, previous numbers of written citations, what students are now committing what violations, other misactivities such as disrespect, dissing, and bullying happening on the bus, the daily number and names of students immediately escorted from the bus, new bus citations to what individual riders, change in policy recommendations, and reports on any other issues disrupting a safer, calmer bus environment to and from school.

So often it is reported in the press that whatever the issue both the bus driver and monitor performed the same action, or inaction. A properly trained school bus safety ombudsman can bring faster and better results than a bus monitor trained to mimic the bus driver’s trained actions.

A safer, calmer bus environment can evolve quickly once the civil kids and civil adults have decided to help their bus driver take back charge of the bus. Reconditioning a school bus environment can take a few days, to three weeks or so. The variable involved is related to well everyone involved quickly implements these actual safe practices when confronting the uncivil. Any bottleneck in the intervention process or the lacking to give due attention to details can delay the effectiveness of any program.

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 When a driver makes a request, this is usually when transportation management or the administration may send the ombudsman. The ombudsman may be a retired school bus driver no longer driving, or can be a teacher earning some extra income, or a volunteer trained in the district's school bus safety ombudsman program. And a mix of both paid and volunteer ombudsman.

In the later part of the year and when the uncivil have taken control of the bus, a typical out-of-control middle school bus environment can take longer to recondition, toward the three-weeks number.

The ombudsman does not tell the bus driver what to do, does not take over the driver’s work for him or her, but demonstrates the practices for the driver to notice and to decide what practices fit his or her needs.

The civil children riding the bus are encouraged to take back charge of the bus environment. The basic national safety standards are enforced:

___Assigned seats or escort to assign seats for the day and rearrange as needed. Where seat belts are installed, use is enforced -- period.
___Out of aisle (rearrange when needed).
___Sitting forward. Backpacks and other obstacles in lap, under seat, with permission placed in an empty seat, or not transported.
___Soft voices in conversations within immediate area. Instruct to text friends farther from soft conversation range or to find something calm to do right now and make contact after the ride.
___Insure riders act out respectfully toward fellows, the bus driver, property, passerby’s, and self -  (Siblings included.)

The ombudsman does not think for the kids. The ombudsman gives directions that the students are to practice following. Again, the ombudsman rarely thinks for the kids. The ombudsman studies the issues on the bus and demonstrates remedies that may work on that specific bus route. The bus driver observes and decides what remedies he or she prefers to use.

Some schools include the bus driver calling the offending child's designated parent. When doing this avoid telling the parent that this first call is just a warning call. The first call to the parent is not a warning. It is an alert concerning a child's misbehavior reported to the designated parent, and at that time the parent is in charge of what happens next.

Respect is a practice, not an advertisement

A first call involving an alert to the parent and also involving a first citation, can demonstrate respect when the action involved is placed in full charge of the designated parent involved. When the misbehavior involved is considered a somewhat minor offense from the more serious misbehavior seldom is there a good reason from a practical viewpoint not to give the parent the opportunity to resolve the child's misbehavior privately at home.

A second call involving an alert to the parent and involving a second citation can demonstrate respect when the action involved is placed in the charge of the bus driver involved. Written policy ought to provide the available options, most specifically up to how many days the driver can remove the child from riding his or her bus. The action taken could apply to all bus riding privileges, including activity and field trips, and acted on immediately.

When not immediate, that change ought to be necessarily credited to the bus driver's kindness toward the parent. A principal, or other staff taking credit puts the bus driver in a bad light. Staff that credits the bus driver for the generosity put both the driver and staff in a better light. But beware, deviating can backfire, most often with the uncivil taking advantage.

A third call and citation is managed by the transportation authority designated by the school district administration and/or board with due process and for the purpose of defending the bus environment from uncivil influence, disruptions, hostilities and distractions that place schoolchildren and staff at unnecessary risk of injury or worse.

Obviously Guns, illegal drugs, assaults, sexual anomalies, and such ends much use of this process. Unlawful events require quick involvement from law enforcement authorities and other appropriate authorities.

Students questions to the ombudsman are referred to the appropriate person - advised to ask that question from the bus driver while at the school, or to ask that question in the school office when at school. A bus safety brochure FAQ's can be provided the office, although I have not produced one at this time (on my project list). Sometimes fellow students may be able to provide the correct answer.

When the ombudsman first boards an affected bus expect that some of the worst behaved may immediately begin their refusal strategies. A few may be confident and in your face. Some of the worst behaved may begin with quietly analyzing the ombudsman's weak areas that might eventually be perceived vulnerable to manipulation.

Most of the unruly may simply assume that the same weak areas that they found in policy or from the bus driver's activities remain useful to their mischief. These present nothing more than a duplication of the original strategies that was used to take control of the bus environment from the bus driver.

One of the main strategies from these sorts begins with asking questions. In this situation, the one asking the questions is in the one charge of the discussion.

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 The initial duties of the ombudsman is to analyze until understanding the unruly children’s routines, collect these routines for confirmation with the bus driver, take charge of the bus environment away from the uncivil, and report activities to the officials involved.

It is essential that school staff immediately respond to driver requests to remove from the bus any rider refusing to follow directions for at least the remainder of that day. It is disrespectful and improper to question the bus driver's decision in the presence of the students, but is proper to ask the reason the child is to be escorted off the bus.

All route schedules need buffers to manage the unexpected. Claims of so-called efficient routing/schedules are false when no time is buffered in the routes so as to allow the bus driver to effectively manage his or her riders.  When the schedule is a factor, it is proper to request a referral completed after completing the route.

When a misbehavior happens while the bus is on school grounds, the school staff member might use the school's referral form to note the bus number, driver's name, what happened, and other information that may not require input from the driver.

Taking a minute when asked for information is worth the time. Refusing to follow the bus driver's directions is a good answer, however be prepared to explain a detail or two. Use the third person approach to assist in quick transfer of information:

The child refused the assigned seat that day; or the child called another child (or the bus driver) a "bitch"; or the child hit another child; or the child tried to bully another child, that sort of thing.

Although this is usually not considered part of this process, it may be proper to discuss away from the riders and parents disagreement concerning the reasons a student was removed from the bus, as long as the reasoning and alternative decision agreed on keeps the bus driver's authority intact. There is risk here of again compromising the bus driver's authority on the bus when deviating from the process.

There can be two right answers to the same problem.

When a child my father gave me specific instructions. He said to me to fight back, and when the principal condemns you for it say nothing. And when wronged again, then again fight back, and continue to fight back until no longer condemned for it.

Because the child's parent is angry does not support good cause to deviate from a safe practice. A special interest motive may not be good cause to deviate from protecting or otherwise maintaining a safe school bus environment.

Some risk is involved for things to go very badly when giving the uncivil too many second chances. Uncivil kids can't help but perceive that multiple second chances is a weakness. Even civil parents may see a weakness and begin to question the school's and bus driver's competence to manage their their children's safety.

When an unruly child persists acting out with continued defiance on the school bus, these may promptly be removed from riding the buses for up to the remainder of the school year. It is the responsibility of school officials to insure this safe practice can be enforced without flaws. Know before a problem what ducks need be placed in a row and keep them there.

Stop reacting. Get ahead of what may be perceived as incompetence some officials can display.

When the bus driver and the civil students consistently demonstrate that they are in charge of the bus environment this is when the ombudsman’s tasks on that bus conclude and a final report is made to transportation management, the school, and/or the district administration.

The ombudsman then moves to the next bus requesting assistance.

This method makes better use of district personnel. The basic keys to unlocking this process are first to:
  • Develop the plan in to a policy approved by the board.
  • Inform parents and the press concerning the policy and the duties of the school bus safety ombudsman.
  • Steal back or otherwise remove the authority of ruling over the bus environment the uncivil have stolen, return that authority to the bus driver and to the civil kids.
  • The civil restored are then expected to maintain their authority to be in charge of the school bus environment.

When things are not going well using this endgame program, try to be aware of the potential spoilers and compensate for these risks. First, look at what in the program is not on task.

One of the biggest mistakes so many bus drivers and bus aids make is attempting to control loud behavior before correcting the environmental issues that can themselves encourage loud discussions.  Silent runs can become redundant and soon rejected. Bluffing, threatening and attempts to induce fear only brings resentment and more rejection, and can be a weakness that the worst behaved take advantage of.

First obtain bodies and limbs out of aisle, riders sitting forward, then deal with the loud students that ignore warnings.

A simple -- matter of fact -- neutral voice works best with some of the less civil.

One of the biggest mistakes school officials can make concerning this endgame approach is the failure to support their bus drivers authority to immediately have escorted from the bus defiant and otherwise unruly riders.

These spoilers persistently give defiant riders and hostile parents an edge.

Hostile parents acting out can distract from the remedies, and mismanaging the remedies is oftentimes what delays restoring a school bus environment to a safer, calmer schoolplace for children, and a safer, less distracting, and hostile-free workplace for the bus driver.

I can not answer for what reason some schools would neglect what civil children need for a safe ride, nor why some seem indifferent toward their bus drivers subjected to a hostile workplace by allowing unruly kids to escalate on their buses. To then simply blame the bus driver?  Nor why bus drivers treated that way have so much difficulty addressing their mistreatment. What sort of results when doing these things is actually achieved?

I have to guess at possible reasons, based on subjective experiences, and rely on people like Gary Namie (Workplace Bullying Institute) to help me understand.

The School Bus Safety Ombudsman does not oversee any system or person. The ombudsman is not an overseer, he or she is a facilitator.

It it is not the ombudsman's purpose to fix kids or adults, and ought not be the school bus driver’s purpose. Have we all not enough to do trying to fix ourselves?

Fixing a child is the responsibility of the child's designated parent/s, doctors, therapists, or law enforcement in some cases. The ombudsman's effort is to work within a system looking for what helps the civil take back charge of the bus environment. Where the system might be flawed, makes recommendations.

Understand the needs of the civil, which in the practical sense includes understanding the necessity for the civil to be in charge of the bus environment.

Reconsider this saying a myth, ‘To give respect gets respect,’ except with the civil. The civil see this kindness as a strength they can appreciate, a talent they want to experience from adults, and a behavior civil children want to better develop within themselves.

The uncivil often see kindness from adults as a weakness, and an adult that can be easy to manipulate. To get much respect from most of the uncivil these must be able to trust the adults involved mean what they say every time. Support must be top-notch, including the bus driver's authority to kindly (and perhaps sometimes not so kindly) have escorted off the bus that day any child refusing to follow directions. Where that authority is missing – Why Is It Missing?

The reality is the school bus driver is charged with protecting precious lives. The laws in most states post in their statutes, and in the state's posted bus regulations on the school buses that the bus driver is the authority on the school bus. When thinking in those terms and looking at the laws and regs that support those terms within civil discussions, and when considering the risks involved when not thinking in those terms the remedies become rather obvious.

From my experienced perspective, I found repeatedly that most properly hired and trained school bus drivers are fully capable of managing a busload of kids without me telling them what to do. Also found repeatedly that unruly children oftentimes know the bus rules, and that these sorts chose to exploit any perceived weakness these can find within the bus rules, policies, and expectations. Some children seem compelled to engage whatever weakness perceived from the adults involved.

I clearly recall when a child visiting my grandmother and grandfather. My grandparents had interesting trinkets on display throughout their home. I recall a direction from grandmother to look but do not touch.

My sister and my other brother obeyed that direction, I chose not to.

When my grandmother's wooden spoon whacked the back of my hand, the sudden shock (and pain) from that happening surprised me. She gave no explanation for her action, simply went back to whatever she was doing.

I went and sat on my grandfather's lap. He was not much help. He mentioned that when he ignores her that he risks the same thing happening.

I missed my grandfather's message and was forced to reason through what might have been grandmother's reasoning. My immature mind reasoned that she was mean, but I listened to her directions from that event forward.

Had I continued not to obey my grandmother’s direction, fully expect would have experienced the event again or worse. Might well have then concluded that she was mean and was now picking on me.

Maturity and years of discovering brought about a different reasoning for my grandmother's Old World actions.

Were a grandmother or a parent these days to whack a child with a wooden spoon, or a teacher to whack a an unruly child's hand with a ruler, which on rare occasion happened to me in class when young, the risk is ever increasing that these adults could end up in court.

None among the civil support beating a child half to death, nor to death. That is usually the malbehavior of the the out of control, and from the tormentors, serial killers, rapists, a frustrated out of control parent, or a sick parent. Not the usual behavior from the civil to beat a child to death.

The uncivil have exaggerated nearly every event to a one size fits all that can eventually be twisted to apply to every event involving a child, overreaching and demanding rights and protections from the civil that exceed the rights of the civil to be protected from the uncivil. The civil are abused and otherwise tormented while the uncivil's so-called rights allow the uncivil to escape. Frustration percolating within the civil can eventually bring sudden unexpected violence.

Beware, were the civil in society together to understand this level of abuse toward the civil, the anger let loose after awakened and after discovering what the uncivil have been up to while the civil slept. Such an event could shake a nation from it's roots.

History dictates that the civil can temporarily exceed the destruction that the uncivil have previously wrought.  The dispute that brought on the Civil War was not settled in a board meeting, the actual remedy exceeding the violence that the uncivil had freely acted out over time toward truly and certain human rights violations infecting society in those days.

Some of the civil allowed it, for sure, and some resisted the uncivil by providing decent treatment to every human under their authority, including adequate housing, medical treatment, providing for an education, and to some the owner gave papers to freedom.

For so many these days, what Martian Luther King Jr. said in his days is relevant to many issues in and outside our industry. His words ought to be framed and placed on the wall of every employee workplace breakroom in America...

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even kindergartners oftentimes know basic safety expectations, but some may require redundant direction and escorted supervision to follow those directions. Older kids already know the answers to ninety-nine percent of their questions concerning safety expectations on the school buses and at the bus stops. Some choose to play ignorant, or offer excuses and expect the adult will treat them like a kindergartner. These sorts expect many second chances, simply because they have been trained to think that way, or have been protected from thinking.

A WIFR article titled, "Dealing with Bullying," stated, "Bullying is an issue that happens almost every day in schools and it's a problem that can't be solved, although school districts are trying."

Bullying probably can be solved with help from civil children, and it requires a change in mindset from the adults involved, then containment by immediately changing the bully's environment. Too many schools are unwilling to suffer the attacks from bully protectors claiming isolation of bullies until fully resolved is an unfair remedy, and on and on. When special self-interests invade an issue, which has happened with this issue, in this case, it is the civil children and the targets of bullying that can end up isolated and punished.

To end this game, end the excuses. Refuse to play and the worst behaved come out from hiding and in your face. What ought you to now do when that happens?

Stop blaming the kids. Most have one or more legitimate excuses for their disrespectful behavior. Adults not meaning what they advertise to say. Who can trust such adults? It is too obvious that some kids do not waste there time listening to adults they can not trust.

Most any adult supervised program can work when the adult participants stay on task. This program has presented one possibility concerning what to do next when all the previous school bus safety programs failed, often years of failures, and sometimes because they were not effective remedies in the first place, or the remedies were not adequately maintained on task and for that reason did not work.

The energy involved to maintain chaos can become enormous, stealing away more and more time and resources at all levels intended for use providing genuine educational services and benefits.
The best stay on task, while the rest simply experience the same vicious circle repeatedly and blame that result on each other or another program claimed does not work.

Have no part of such things. First investigate, then acknowledge whatever the failure. Stop the blame games, excuse making, and begin playing the sane games the effective civil play. Make the plans, stay on task, and practice the attitudes that help promote genuine success.

Before going zealous to stop violence on the school buses please read this article...

Where gangs and drug dealing is included in the school bus violence mix, do not change activities without first acquiring help from law enforcement and any other professional agencies in your area specializing in interventions at this level of rider defiance. The risk of violence escalating is at too great a risk to child reporters and to the bus driver without this level of support.

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St. Paul schools: Anti-bullying campaign aboard buses, too - "It's good because it helps us have a peaceful ride," said Brenden Lankford-Johnson, a fifth-grader at Hancock-Hamline in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood. "And I like riding the bus because I get to see my friends." Students can be written up or suspended by their bus drivers for talking loudly or fighting on the bus, according to Brenden. But since the school started using the Peaceful School Bus program last year, the number of students being written up or suspended from the bus are down. ~ Photo - Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi, (
OKC elementary students attacked on school bus -- One victim said the bullies don’t like her nice clothes or her good grades. “I tried to fight back but I couldn’t because they were pulling my hair and socking me in my face,” she said Thursday. The fifth grader said these same kids also threaten her at F.D. Moon Elementary with gang activity. “They say, ‘I’m beating you up after school’ and they said they’re going to shoot my momma’s house up,” she said. Gardner said the school told her they banned the attackers from riding the bus for a few days but did not suspend them.
Mother recounts alleged case of extreme bullying on school bus -- County investigators said school administrators failed to report the incident. A parent ignoring this horrific malconduct in their home is considered child abuse. Virtually every detail is available to the press. A school administration ignoring the same crime on a school bus and hiding it is to be accepted as policy?

NOTE: One of my favorite transporting conditions when driving school bus was transporting a busload of children to a daily after-school activity. This can be one of the easiest environments to obtain a safer, calmer ride when all the ducks are in a row -- out of the aisle, sitting forward, using soft voices, and respectful, these safety basics accomplished before starting the bus engine and before leaving the school.
Here again, it was not about the behavior of the kids riding the bus, but about the support behavior available from other involved adults toward helping the bus driver keep kids safe...

Elementary Route (k-6), three different public schools -- same results. The stars indicate the level of compliance/cooperation.

Middle school, high school, and mixed routes: Similar results to above but more intense interactions in some cases. One middle school bus addressed in the Spring took about one week to recondition the bus environment. One middle school route near end of school year took three weeks to recondition that bus environment.

  • What was the level of support from these schools? The best. (****) 
  • Where was school staff and destination staff when boarding/departing students?  Nearby and ready to help. (****)
  • Was overcapacity permitted?  No. (****)
  • Were the riders expected to know the bus rules before boarding a school bus? Yes. (**)
  • Were the riders seated as they boarded and rearranged as needed?  Yes. No cattle-drive loading at these schools.  (****)
  • Did riders stay out of aisle?  Yes. (****)
  • Did riders sit forward in their seats?  Yes (as though wearing a seat belt). (***)
  • Did riders keep conversations within their area and use soft voices?  Yes (****)
  • Did riders respect others and property?  Yes. (***)
  • Were the students removed that day that refused to follow directions or were otherwise disruptive?  Yes. (****)
  • Were seat belts installed and use required?  (n/a, not state or parents mandated.)

NOTE (Touchy ground here): Be careful about asking bus riders certain questions that may not be a part of a bus driver's duties. "What's wrong?" or "What happened to you?" (or a peace of clothing), and similar questions may be appropriate, but be careful about attempting to delve too deep into asking about medical and mental issues, and things not as easily defined that could be perceived as an attempt to establish an inappropriate relationship with the child.

I know it is tempting for the loving and nurturing civil to hug and such, and it ought to be the norm, yet an adult alone with the kids can bring filthy responses from some onlookers. Giving hugs ought to be avoided when possible. I let kids hug me, but avoided initiating a hug.

Some children can react with unusual intensity to a direction, some have genuine difficulty with touch, and some can not function in a loud environment. It is not usually appropriate for the bus driver or ombudsman to start asking the child deep questions concerning a reaction that may be so deeply rooted or hidden that the child may not know the answer. It is usually considered appropriate for the child to volunteer information. It may be appropriate to ask a general question - "Where did you learn it was okay to act like that on a school bus?"

It is proper and usually expected that the bus driver communicate to the school any child displaying unusual intense reactions to directions and any information the child may have volunteered. In some cases this may be a requirement backed by a law.

Bus drivers and monitors are staff often considered part of the personnel working direct with schoolchildren. According to what I have researched, relevant basic confidential information ought to be provided all personnel that have direct contact with certain students, but the relevancy outside of a risk issue concerning the school bus environment is oftentimes for the purpose of workplace safety, ought not to be used in attempts to instruct the driver to perform activities best left to a child's relevant medical professional's skills, in my opinion.

Go Green! Again, the process presented here promotes that the bus driver's duty is primarily to protect the bus environment, not to perform therapy on other parents children.

NOTE: Avoid Internet chat room conversations with your riders, or at least obtain permission from management, or the parent beforehand. It may be appropriate where you want to establish a school bus safety FAQ's chat room, but their may be some issues involved that you have not considered. Some schools (mostly private schools and Internet learning centers) provide staff a secure password protected area on site where teachers and other staff can send parents information, and parents can communicate their questions.

No such thing as a bad kid? - It is an illusion, neglectful and sometimes dangerous to chant that all kids are good. It is a myth that the practical among the civil think it so. Many of the civil simply do not know how to present the truth of the matter until cornered and frustrated with a few that may be rotten at the core.  There is no need to panic over the reality that so-called good kids can do bad things. Know your environment and escape strategies when discovering what thought a good child suddenly reveals him or herself.

NOTE: A Facebook comment from a school bus driver"Yesterday my supervisor rode with me almost the whole day. She drove in the morning and I drove in the afternoon. She said "I just want you to know that we want you, and we need you, and we are willing to get you whatever training you need." Music to my ears! She gave me lots of pointers on how to do my job better. It was all a great experience and I no longer feel that my neck is next in line for the chopping block." 

We can all understand the feeling of support the driver mentions, yet some concerns remain.

The bus driver in this comment is intelligent, and seems fully capable of driving a school bus. She was comfortable with the supervisor on the bus, even with her supervisor driving the bus, typical of drivers wanting to learn as much as possible to help keep kids safe.

Regardless, for what reason did the assistance drive the bus? Had the driver been making driving errors?
When I am requested to ride a bus it is not my place to drive that bus, or to direct the bus driver to do anything. Nor is it my place to answer kids questions on the bus during the route.

Do facilitate a safer, calmer bus environment, demonstrating the process, but even that activity is not outside the bus driver's authority to enforce bus behavior that he or she decides to engage at any point. The bus driver is the Captain of his or her bus.

My primary purpose is to help identify the unruly and confirm my findings with the bus driver, including facilitating immediate removal from the bus that day any child refusing to follow the bus driver's or my directions.

I remain until the civil kids are back in charge of the bus environment and following the bus drivers directions. When following directions becomes the norm on that bus, and the bus driver is back in charge there is no need for me to remain.

How would that level of support feel to most school bus drivers, and to civil kids and their parents'?

NOTE: Years ago my wife and I moved to a neighborhood where the kids on the buses were unruly, outright defiant, and otherwise out of control, yet when at home and usually outdoors were well behaved in their neighborhood. There were a couple of exceptions, both exceptions pointed to poor parent supervision in this case, the single parent not home enough to actually train their child to be respectful of others and their property.

Although it may be true that parents training and supervising their children to behave respectfully seemed to promote better behaved children at home and in their neighborhood, it was also noticeable that poor parenting did not necessarily bring the level of issues on the buses that some claim.

Poor supervision at school and on the buses seemed just a likely to escalate issues on the bus, as well as infect the environment at home, even some civil homes, and into the community with uncivil, disrespectful conduct, which could eventually include violence.

It seems what the adults in charge of a child's conduct within specific environments, their area of responsibility, seems to have the most impact on children in that environment, be that at home, at school, or on the buses.

NOTE: I forgot...

NOTE: Civil treatment towards the help and good support has a direct positive impact on the school bus environment, not necessarily on an uncivil child's behavior. There are plenty that are disruptive anyplace not intervened in, and some can remain disruptive even when intervened in. The school bus can be a perfect environment for these to act out.

A district administration concept, and bus and school management change in direction began treating their drivers like educators, backed them up with great support, and the driver's started following through. The result was safer, calmer school bus environments.

School bus drivers that get little or no respect from their own schools and from parents may not be equipped to obtain respect from their riders. An administration that has not acquired respect usually can not pass it forward to their help. Where this is the case, then the school can hardly be considered a sanctuary among chaos.

I wish for our compromised school bus drivers, civil parents, and children, that the best in every respect somehow finds a way to help keep kids safe, and even if you have to instigate that happening. Best for you all this school year.

Hoping great training and support comes to any that need it. The rest happens from the civil treating each other well every time, all the time, which includes reporting and otherwise helping their school bus driver keep kids safe.

NOTE: Go Nazi? "I'll ask the quesshuns!" I don't really mean to go Nazi, or homeland enforcement agent, I do mean to learn the mystery of my grandmother's teaching technique, but do not hit kids with a wooden spoon like my grandmother could, or with a ruler like my bus driver could when I was a child riding the school bus, or with a willow switch like what my 1st grade teacher could, or with a paddle like what my 4th grade principal could. Although Mother Nature may believe pain helps support a natural warning, an artificial warning may not necessitate pain. Surprise may be just as effective, or nearly so, as would pain. The sudden escort off the bus, refusal to transport in the afternoon for a morning ride disruption quietly arranged with the parent when workable can provide that sudden surprise, especially when the child has calculated he or she has gotten away with the misbehavior, believes that the adults involved are stupid, or distracted, or easily sidetracked, and that nothing will happen if he or she continues to misbehave on the bus.

Note - What might an actual want ad for school bus drivers contain?

Classified Want Ad:

Immediate Openings
School Bus Drivers needed
Minimum 2 years collage or medical school accredited education in family and child therapy, psychology or psychiatry. At least 1 year law enforcement experience with police officer drug enforcement and violence prevention certification. Applicants must have Paramedic training and certification, or a Certified Nurses Assistant certificate and one year experience caring for others in a licensed care facility. State certified childcare experience helpful. Applicants must be able to demonstrate extensive legal knowledge of state and federal school bus transportation laws and regulations. A law degree from a recognized law school is essential for this position. Demonstrable prognosticating (soothsayer) experience another plus. Clean driving record and clear criminal history a must. Approximately a three-hour workday or more available depending on bus driving position desired. Wonderful opportunity for multi-educated independently wealthy individual seeking part-time employment. Starting pay from $8.00 to $14.19/hour. If you meet these qualifications contact us immediately. Free CDL training provided.
(Employer Name, Address, and Contact Phone Number here.)
Equal Opportunity Employer.


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